Author Nualan O’Brien
Review of Art on Ice in Zurich 3-5 February,2017
This is the only show in Zurich I have seen three times. It is where figure ice-skating meets a pop concert. The skaters skate – at times fluid – at times robotic. And the musicians perform – sometimes on the stage at the top of the ice rink, sometimes on a small mobile stage on the ice. Creative visuals light up the concert hall. A contortionist can appear from a rope in the ceiling, climbing like an acrobatic cat to the floor. Sinewy dancers clamber to get out of a smoky cage, and a male skater can merrily leapfrog over another crouched male skater.
At times, the singers move on the ice, at other times, the skaters appear to take to the stage. (Or else new dancers emerge from the wings). Either way, it makes it a show to remember. But before I tell you the other reasons I like the show, let me explain…
…What is Art on Ice?
Art on Ice is a Swiss Ice Skating Show that tours Zurich, Lausanne and Davos. Each year, current and former Olympic and World champion perform spins, twists and throws – supported by globally-recognised musicians. While the skaters can have performed in the show before, the musicians are always different.
This year’s musicians were:
Chaka Chan, the Chicago-born 10-time Grammy award-winner who was made famous with massive hits like: “I’m Every Woman, ”I feel for you.” The popular 63-year-old soul singer has worked with music legends Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Prince and David Bowie.
The über-cool British singer-songwriter James Morrison. The 31-year-old, guitar-player has enjoyed success with songs including: “You Give me Something”, “You Make it Real”, and “Wonderful World”. By coincidence he has also collaborated with former Art on Ice performers, the Canadian Nelly Furtado (with “Broken Strings”). And the British Jessie J (with “Up”). Watch him on Youtube:
The Zurich Chamber Orchestra. While the words “chamber orchestra“ do not necessarily conjure up images of funk and fun, this orchestra did an impressive job of creating both moving and memorable music that might just make a visit to the Zurich Chamber Orchestra on my To Do list for 2017. At times, Dany Lo, a red-headed solo violinist, appeared on the main stage.
Other reasons to like Art on Ice:
The element of danger. What you get to experience in a live show and cannot get to see on TV, is those moments when the skaters show a faint wobble on a turn, or a male skater seems to almost miss a catch of his female partner. And far from taking from a performance, this level of realness adds an edge to the performance, and has you clutching your seat.
The stadium is dark, the spotlight follows the skaters flawlessly, even when the skaters are travelling at high speed.
The skaters seem to have more fun on the ice than they do when competing. This is infectious for the audience.
Highlights of 2017
The outfits rocked. Gold star for the wardrobe co-ordinator this year. The skaters were wearing jeans and t-shirts, black and white (simple, but visually impressive, they did not look like waiters, but elegant dancers flowing on the ice). At one point the female dancers were wearing fun American–style colourful mini-dresses. (In fact one female skater had such a funky red mini dresses with denim jacket, I was wondering where they bought it!) During a Chaka Chan song, a troupe of female skaters all wore sexy vixen outfits (and the outfits managed to be sexy, not slutty). I was glad to see a move beyond the predictable skin-tight spangled tops for the men and the floaty skirts for the ladies.
The unexpected. This year the show began with a robot travelling on ice. In the background, a ball of fire like a grapefruit explodes on the stage at the top of the ice rink. All the while, an invisible narrator tells a story about discovering ourselves by looking in a mirror. Not a dancer to be seen. Clever.
Chaka Khan singing “Gold Finger,” accompanied by a suited James Bond male solo skater. She has the kind of golden voice that fills a stadium with ease.
More about the Skaters
Figure skating pairs that appeared in the show included the current Olympic champions, the American Meryl Davis & Charlie White. Not only do these two make the skating look effortless – gliding like silk across the ice, they even manage to smile while doing incredibly challenging moves.
Other skating pairs were the Russian Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (they won silver at the 2014 Olympics – with Ksenia also winning gold in the team event). Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot also skated this year. (They won bronze in the 2016 World championships).
The cast included two accomplished Swiss skaters: both have appeared in Art on Ice before.
Stéphane Lambiel, who was born in Martigny. He is a two-time former World Champion (2005 and 2006). He also won a silver in the 2006 Olympics. He is known for his spins that seem to twirl him into infinity. He is now officially retired but also coaches. More on him on Wikipedia.
Sarah Meier, from Bülach in Canton Zürich. She is the female solo 2011 European Champion. She retired in 2015, but came back from retirement for this show.
Other solo female skaters included: the Moscow-born Anna Pogorilaya. She is only 18 and has already won bronze in the European championships in both 2015 and 2016. It seems she will have a long career ahead of her. The American Ashley Wagner, a silver medalist in the 2016 World Championships, also skated.
Other male solo skaters included the lively Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 World champion from Japan.
Other Facts about Art on Ice:
• In 2017, 80,000 people will have seen this show live.
• Previous year’s highlights can be seen on the SRF site here. The popular Viola Tami is the TV host for the show. The 2017 highlights are due to be on www.srf.ch shortly.
Official Site: www.artonice.com