Art on Ice 2010 - Access All Areas


By Nadin Vernon
Photos © Silvia Ulenberg

We’ll soon have some coverage of the actual show on the site, but in the meantime I thought I’d share some of my impressions from Zürich. Please don’t take this as a full review of the show - it’s not, it’s just a collection of random things that either really impressed me or made me laugh.

I got to Zürich on Thursday morning and after dropping off my bags at the Swissôtel, I went straight to training where an open session was taking place before the full run-through of the show. While the atmosphere was pretty laid back, many skaters were going through their programs and finishing off bits of choreography to their routines.

I first noticed Fleur Maxwell as she was practicing her unbelievable spirals and spins - that girl really has perfected the Biellmann spin! While I was starting to wonder whether or not she actually has a spine, she started running through her Nothing Else Matters program, later to be accompanied by David Garrett. The choreography to this is just beautiful and I was wondering who had put the program together. Fleur later confirmed: “I came up with the choreography myself”, and it was actually one of my favourites of the whole show.

Next, Ingo Steuer caught my eye. I always love to watch his teams train because Ingo is a very hands-on coach. He doesn’t just stand at the boards, he switches between watching and skating with Aljona and Robin, for example to show them exactly what he’s got in mind when it comes to certain moves. I think Team Steuer had a clothes swap going on during Art on Ice. Aljona was wearing red leggings with ‘Suisse’ on them which may be why David Garrett got confused and introduced her and Robin as a Swiss team during Friday night’s show. And Anaïs was wearing Aljona’s ‘Lost in Space’ SP costume for her performance...

Anaïs Morand and Antoine Dorsaz were also at practice, first doing their lifts off-ice and then running through their routine with Ingo. They had a fun program to Live and let Die, together with their training mates Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov. It was a bit along the lines of last year’s Stronger and I really enjoyed it. Meanwhile Emanuelle Balmori was practicing her routine with a suspended hoop. She is amazing! I really love all the acrobatic stuff and I’m so glad that Art on Ice is mixing things up with these artists. This performance by Emanuelle is seriously mind-blowing, there is no safety rope at all and some of the positions she gets herself into simply defy belief. When she was done, Stanislav looked like he was going to have a go, but then only put his head through the hoop, had a look around, and changed his mind!

Kurt Browning was very much in a jokey mood, but then again he always seems to be. He can’t stand still either; he’s got more energy than a toddler – seriously! Sasha Cohen was practicing her spirals and at one point covered the whole rink diagonally with a beautiful Ina Bauer, when Kurt skated past her with his fingers going for her waist to tickle her.

During the run-through, Emanuelle got into her starting pose in the dark, where she hangs over the hoop with her waist and has her legs dangling down. We were all waiting for the music to start... and waiting some more…and some more. She must have been hanging there for about a minute when Kurt shouted from the other end of the arena: “Hang in there!” Laughs all around.

Another favourite of mine were The Kourbanovs. I can’t even begin to try and describe what they do, but the picture may give you a hint. If you ever get the chance to check them out, please do.

When Anastacia arrived in Zürich, she spontaneously decided to have a go on the ice which went down a storm with Oliver Höner: “This was completely unexpected and a really nice surprise for the whole team. We would have never even thought about asking her ourselves!” It was going to be a surprise for the audience too. During the performance that night, Anastacia sang her last song Left Outside Alone on stage. She then quickly put her skates on while the band carried on playing and the skaters ran through their finale, to come out in time to take a bow with everybody on the ice. Anastacia sang a final song while being twirled around the ice by Stéphane Lambiel.

However, during the run-through, the first half of this plan didn’t quite work out. Anastacia took a little longer putting on her skates and left a bemused bunch of skaters waiting for her on the ice, to the effect that at one point, somebody sang out in full voice ‘We’re left on the ice alone’. When Anastacia finally came on the ice she really enjoyed the interaction with the skaters. She said she must remember that there’s an audience there in the evening, and try not to get too involved with what the performers are doing as she would otherwise very easily change her lyrics to something like ‘Come on, grab her hand...catch her...’ She was really at ease with the whole set-up and rocked it later that night, Anastacia was great!

During the Friday night show Anastacia wrote history: she must be the first woman ever to walk across the ice in a pair of Louboutins, and not fall over. She clearly found it harder to keep her balance later on when Stéphane interpreted her song In your Eyes. She was visibly touched by the artistry and outburst of emotion that was unfolding in front of her very eyes and it was magical to watch the connection between the two. Stéphane: “This was one of the best moments in my life.” During the premiere on Thursday night, Anastacia had tears in her eyes and said “There are really no words for something like that”, and indeed: Stéphane was flying across the ice, it was simply beautiful. Later that evening, Stéphane was flying again – this time across the dance floor as he and Shae-Lynn Bourne put on an impromptu performance to Purple Rain. Priceless!

There was a late Friday morning training session which many skaters did not attend, but Ingo once again showed his amazing work ethics. Even though this was ‘just’ gala training, he was there with his skaters, no matter how late they had partied the night before.

Viviane Käser was having a proper training session too and later Kurt and Stéphane came on the ice. They were messing about quite a bit. Stéphane was coughing a little during practice which Kurt picked up on, so every time he passed Stéphane on the ice, he tried to out-cough him, and they just carried on playing this game, I was in stitches.

Kurt was having trouble with his triple Salchow and started cursing the ice, then Stéphane couldn’t land one at the exact spot. So they started taking turns, and once the spell was broken Stéphane did a triple-triple combo and also a quad which was great.

This year’s show once again proved that Art on Ice really is incredible. “It’s the best figure skating show in the world…the best”, as Evgeni Plushenko rightly summed it up.

And while many people arrived for the shows on Saturday, unfortunately I was already on my way back to London: flying away - back home…back home…

See you next year guys, awesome show!


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