I’m not sure if Elvis Presley ever been to Finland for a concert, but, ten days ago, a very convincing double of the singer rocked the ice in Espoo, and he had a gorgeous girl alongside. You, figure skating fans, know very well what I mean: for 2 minutes and 50 seconds, Andrew Poje impersonated Elvis (hats off to the one bringing up this marvelous idea) and Kaitlyn Weaver was the girl standing beside him, in a wonderful blue dress and wearing pearls around her neck. Together, they skated in Espoo, at this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy, a charming, flowing, playful short dance – and ran away with the gold.
One more thing: this dance is already a gem (with the nuances, the colors and Elvis’ signature moves), but it will grow into becoming, I already know that, one of the it dances of the season.
by Florentina Tone
Take two of Elvis’ famous songs, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Heartbreak Hotel”, add some Pasquale Camerlengo magic choreographic touches (he does have a wonderful feel for the music, Mr. Camerlengo) – and let Kaitlyn and Andrew do the trick. In the end, you’ll be amazed – as I was, watching them skate their short dance at 2015 edition of Finlandia Trophy. An addictive performance, that’s what this was, an embroidery of wonderful moves, and these photos do nothing but prove it.
Choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev and Shae-Lynn Bourne, the free dance is totally different from the playful short one, resembling, more or less, the free dance from last season. There is at least one point in common: Max Richter, the composer of one of the pieces Kaitlyn and Andrew chose to skate to – “On the Nature of Daylight”; the other two are “Walk” and “Run” by Ludovico Einaudi. I know it’s very early in the season and there’s huge room to grow the following months, both in the short and the free, but I just need to get this out of my system: as convinced I am by the Elvis short dance (let’s call it that), I can’t get past the idea that the free dance, this type of it anyway, is not a perfect match for Kaitlyn and Andrew.
To me, one of their fortes – and the one to be “exploited” in their dances – is the chemistry between them, their sense of relationship, togetherness. And, through the years, I found myself utterly swept into free dances like the one at 2012 Worlds (to Lara Fabian’s “Je Suis Malade”) or the one skated during the Olympic season, to “Maria de Buenos Aires”. Last year’s short dance, to “La Virgen de la Macarena”, was too a perfect fit – and Kaitlyn herself said in Barcelona, at the Grand Prix Final: “We relate to these Latin dances, we find themselves in them. Some of the best performances of our career have been to Latin music, we’re good in showing this music’s strengths and vulnerabilities”.
With that in mind, I am not (yet) a fan of Kaitlyn and Andrew’s free dance for this season. Yes, there’s beauty, there are nuances and wonderful poetry – there’s a gallery of well-thought and inspired moves, created to blend in with the music – but, instead of going for a generic type of dance, I would have chosen a more personal approach, I would have gone for a story. Of course, the rest of the season might prove me wrong – so I’m looking forward to rewatching this free dance two weeks from now, in Lethbridge, Alberta, at 2015 Skate Canada.
At their first appearance on the international stage as a team, Isabella Tobias and Ilia Tkachenko – representing Israel – seemed to have skated together for years; and not just for a couple of months. They are already one, and not two separate entities, so I’d say hats off to them and their team of coaches for making this transition so smoothly. In Espoo, Isabella and Ilia skated to “Cinderella” in the short dance and to Alexander Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances” in the free – and this particular choice of music, powerful, with a crescendo, embraces their energetic style of skating.
Last season was a break-through one for Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen. Coached by Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon in Montreal, Denmark’s national champions managed to enter Top 10 at the Europeans (they were 9th in Stockholm, after being 18th a year before – and that’s a first in the history of Danish figure skating) and, two months after, they placed 11th at the Worlds in Shanghai, again a great result for the two. In Espoo, Finland, Laurence and Nikolaj have already won the second international medal of the season: after taking silver at U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, they claimed the bronze at the first Fin Trophy of their career.
This season, they skate to “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS in the short dance and to Shawn Philips’ “Woman” in the free – and both programs (music, costumes, choreography) seem to suit them wonderfully. Not to mention they are a beautiful, elegant pair; and I love the fact they skate so close to one another, as if they were in a bubble.
Photos from the Medals Ceremony in the ice dancing event in Espoo
Now let’s turn again to competition – and to this particular confession of mine: I do have a soft spot for these two, America’s Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. They are the 2014 World Junior champions – and, last season, won the bronze at NHK Trophy, their first big medal as seniors.
In Espoo, Kaitlin and Jean-Luc were 4th – and the placement doesn’t really do justice to their difficult set of programs. Actually, it’s the technical content that led them to fail at this point of the season – both of them fell during the free dance – but it’s the exact technical content that might make them shine later on. The short dance, to Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”, is already a beauty, but, at the same time, energy-consuming; at the end of it, trying to impersonate as convincing as possible their characters, both Kaitlin and Jean-Luc were completely exhausted. Still, this short dance, choreographed by Anjelika Krylova together with Kaitlin and Jean-Luc, is worth the efforts and, a couple of weeks from now, these efforts will pay back, I’m sure.
The free dance is too a work on progress. To music from the movie “The Theory of Everything”, choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo, the program has great potential; not to mention it’s beautifully put together. Still, there’s tons of work to be done, as Kaitlin herself pointed out on twitter at the end of the competition: “We have lots to do to make these programs the way we want to perform them for you, and we promise we will work our very hardest”. As for the free dance in particular, “We truly love this FD and only hope we can do it justice in the future”.
Other glimpses from the ice dancing event at 2015 Finlandia Trophy