Friday, June 9, 2017

Ice Theatre of New York - UNLPLUGGED featuring Adam Rippon

Ensemble Director Elisa Angeli and the ITNY company
New Yorkers like myself who are figure skating fans are lucky that we are treated to occasional free ice skating shows at venues like Bryant Park or the Rink at Brookfield Place during the winter. There are also a few non-profit organizations in the area trying to reach out the next generation of skaters through education, community outreach, and training programs. One of these organizations is Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY), whose mission is “to celebrate and advance dance on ice as a performance art.”

ITNY is known for their free lunchtime performances at Rockefeller Center’s rink featuring their talented troupe of performers who are lead by Elisa Angeli, their Ensemble Director who once skated as a competitive ice dancer for Italy.  Since its inception over 30 years ago, ITNY has created over 80 pieces of repertory choreographed by ballet, modern dance, skating and contemporary choreographers. US Olympic medalists Evan Lysacek, Sasha Cohen and Sarah Hughes (who was in the audience supporting her niece who skated in the show) have also supported ITNY.

On June 8th, ITNY held their annual fundraiser and performance at Chelsea Piers, honoring 2016 US men’s champion, Adam Rippon, with the Will Sears Award. (Sears was a pairs skater whose life was tragically cut short at the age of 20. Sears trained at Chelsea Piers with his partner, Katie Boxwell.) According to ITNY, this award is given to a young skater who has shown exceptional daring and persistence in pursuit of his passion.
Adam Rippon after his performance
Rippon certainly embodies this award.  He is one of the few openly gay competitive figure skaters and a veteran at the age of 27 (many singles skaters are retired by age 25). He recently recovered from an injury which kept him out the second half of the past season.  Although Rippon is based in the LA area where he trains under famed coach Rafael Arutunian, he is affiliated with the Skating Club of New York which shares its Chelsea Piers address with ITNY.

Having never been to Olympics, Rippon hopes to be one of the three American men who will be on the team headed to Pyeongchang next February.  Known as an artistic skater, he gave a captivating performance to the song “Diamonds” by Josef Salvat, highlighting his beautiful spins and lines.

The rest of the performances had something for everyone.  Child skaters participated in the show, including Hughes' niece Charlotte who skated to Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York."  Although she fell a few times, the crowd cheered her on.  A group of teen girls called the Sky Rink All Stars performed an energetic program to "The Battle of Yorktown" from "Hamilton" complete with Revolutionary era costumes and muskets.

The Sky Rink All Stars' "Hamilton" program
One of the more emotional programs was a pairs program performed by two men (Joel Dear and Christian Erwin) to Adele's "When We Were Young."  Although it’s not allowed in competitive figure skating, it was refreshing to see two men skate to a program with romantic choreography.
Christian Erwin and Joel Dear
ITNY’s UNPLUGGED was an inspirational evening of dancing on ice which reminded me that skating is not all about big jumps but great choreography, a passion for art and seeing performers who truly love what they do on the ice.  ITNY will be holding performances for its' 2017-18 season starting in October and recommend that skating fans check out their website and social media for updates.

Andrea Goldstein is a digital marketing
professional with a passion for pop culture.
@nydigitalmarket on Twitter

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