Well, they’re definitely on my list of favorite ice dance couples, Sara and Adria. The Spaniards first draw my attention at 2013 Europeans in Zagreb, when they skated a beautiful, innovative free dance, to “Little Wing” and “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and I’ve been following them ever since: their Picasso performance from the Olympic season was a joy to the eyes (and food for the soul) and their set of programs for this season is equally brilliant and inspired: Sara and Adria’s short dance is breathing an air of Andalusia (they do have the feel for this music in their blood), whilst the free dance is simple, discrete, but so sophisticated, with a hopeful message to deliver: “Love is beautiful”.
In an interview for Inside Skating, Sara discusses both their programs – and her stories, as their skating, are colorful, vivid and full of emotions. A wonderful detail comes into the spotlight: Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz have been invited to skate in the gala of the Grand Prix Final next week. “We are really excited with this event being in Barcelona and having the chance to be a part of it in a way”.
by Florentina Tone
I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it once more: your short dance is a gem, as if you and Adria were truly the embodiment of flamenco. The musical cuts are wonderful, as your attitude on the ice… Could you, please, lead me into the story of this particular dance? From what I know, you’ve been working with Antonio Najarro, the director of Ballet Nacional de España…
Sara Hurtado: Thank you deeply for your kind words. I’m very happy that someone appreciates our skating as much as you do. It’s mainly why we skate how we skate, we want to make people feel, not just get points, that’s another battle to fight.
From the very first moment we knew that Paso Doble was the rhythm for this year’s SD we started the process to look for something we could really leave a mark of a sort in ice dance. We’ve always wanted to skate to Spanish music, so we already had a few songs in mind, like the one in the middle of the program, called “Almoraima”, but once we had to mix it with a Paso Doble we had to look for something else to bring up the story. And that’s when Antonio’s help was crucial.
We already knew him from before, but we never felt ready to skate one of his choreographies; they are always full of moves and musicality, so your skating skills have to be good enough for you to handle the choreography. He came up with this story about the bull and the torero: just like in a skating partnership, they need each other to exist and they “dance” with each other to create something beautiful. So it all clicked: Paso Doble, corrida de toros, bull, torero, relationship, Spain, us. And that’s what all the other two song are about: “Tercio de quites” is one part of the corrida when the torero tests the power of the bull with the capote [torero’s cap]. And the last part, “Alfileres de Colores”, is a song by Miguel Poveda dedicated to this dance between torero and toro – and it’s named after the colored pins they use to put on the bull’s back.
Would you like to tell me more about your gorgeous costumes for the short dance? I read somewhere they were made at the National Ballet of Spain, and Adria’s one is completely different than the rest…
I’m glad you ask about the costumes. They complement the story we want to tell with our program. I’m the bull with my forearms being the horns of the bull and my chest is the forehead of the bull – and Adri’s wearing the typical costume worn by the toreros when they go out in the fields with the toros, practice, hang around horses and take care of the animals. That’s why he wears the chaps in his legs, for the moments they’re on the horses, and also for the taps, the kicks, to sound louder. This is typically called rejoneo [rejoneo is a form of bullfighting in Portugal and Spain, rejoneador being the name given to a bullfighter who fights the bull on horseback – author’s note].
But what do you need in order to convincingly skate to Spanish music, what did you specifically do in order to prepare for this kind of dance? From what I know you were in Spain, with Antonio Najarro, but have you watched shows too, went to taverns with flamenco dancers?
Working with Antonio helped a lot, but we also went to a tablao – those taverns you talk about – to watch a live show and, also, our friends, Gabriella and Guillaume, went to see a corrida de toros. They got the full experience (laughing).
I’d say you need to feel the music with your moves, not forcing it or faking that you are angry and passionate; that would be too much… There’s also a lot of importance in the hands of the girls and that sensual-strength of their moves. Guys are much more sharp and it’s all about their body shapes and energy. It’s all a dancing world to discover, I hope we’ll have another chance to dance more flamenco, I’m loving it.
What about the free dance, what have you thought about when choosing the music, the costumes? What’s the story behind it?
With this free dance we are trying a new style for us: we have always chosen kind of dramatic pieces of music for our FD and this time we wanted a change. This free dance has a more hopeful message to deliver: Love is beautiful. Of course, the story is about love, more specifically about three different types of love that we think we can all relate to. The first love, innocent and naive, the dark love that is painful, but like an addiction you can’t let go, and the most powerful love of all, the unconditional love that we all find in our parents, family, the people close to us. For this, we use the poem of Zhumanity that meditates on love, plus the soundtrack of the movie “Atonement” – we thought they fitted our story very well.
About the costumes, the most important words are “typed” in Adri’s shirt and I’m in red, the color of passion and love – together we’re reacting to the words of the poem, as if the words of the narrator were coming to life with our moves… Again, it was a great creative process to go through with Marie, Patrice and David Wilson. They understand our personalities very well and, because of that, they can bring out the best of our abilities.
So far, we haven’t had the time to make the program as good as we would like to, but it’s definitely on its way and we hope all the people that enjoyed our past programs will enjoy this one too.
It must have been disappointing to finish your first GP event of the season, Skate Canada, on the eighth place – and you surely studied the scoring sheets with your coaches after everything was done… What went wrong in Kelowna?
Mainly, there were a lot of inaccuracies technically – and those made us lose many important levels on our elements. Prior to the Trophée Eric Bompard we already made the necessary changes necessary, hoping they would work in Bordeaux.
Well, to me, you and Adria were amazing in Bordeaux, managing to finish the event on the fourth place… How was this particular experience? And which are your most precious moments of this year’s edition of Trophée Eric Bompard?
Bombard was a much better result than Kelowna, but it was also another phase in our season. We started the season later than the rest because of my injury, so mainly in Kelowna the programs weren’t built as strong as in Bombard. Between these two GP events we had more time to make them grow – and the intention, the moves, the speed came along with this process. At this level, a strong program is not anymore all about the technique; it needs so much more apart from that, and this time we had the chance to work on that side of our skating.
The best moment has been sharing this experience with our teammates, Gabriella and Guillaume. They are very good friends of us and, since we all train together, watching them win in their own country with all their people was very special. Also, having Romain [Haguenauer] aside… He was the first coach that got us skating together and the one who said to our Federation that we could be good ice dancers. Some of our first programs were choreographed by him, so having Romain on the other side of the barrier next to Marie was a plus of confidence and support.
What are your hopes and expectations for this particular season? You must have secretly wished to be in Barcelona, for the Grand Prix Final…
Well, the good news is that we will be at the Grand Prix Final anyway! Because we were invited to do the show and help with the media and so on, so we will enjoy it very much!
As for our hopes and expectations… mainly, improve from last season and build up our place beside the top ice dance teams. We don’t have as clearer goals as placements because we understand this season is a transitional one; a lot of teams stopped or split up and it’s the start of a new generation looking for the next Olympic cycle. What we are really excited about is to have the second Spanish team at the Europeans. Hopefully we can open a second place for next year’s Worlds, that will be our biggest challenge.
Having been invited to skate in the gala of the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, have you thought about a particular program to do on that occasion?
We are really excited with this event being in Barcelona and having the chance to be part of it in a way. Of course, we are thinking on a few programs we could do there, maybe an adaptation of our FD from last year. It’s a very special piece for us and everyone seems to want to see it over and over again (smiling). This time we will use the costumes and all. We couldn’t use them in Bombard because we left them in Montreal… But first we will have to make a decision about what we will do…
In retrospect, how was this first participation in the Grand Prix circuit? A roller coaster?
Actually, we did already participate in Bombard two years ago. But this is the first year we had two Grand Prix, and it has been really exciting, all part of gaining experience in this sport. We would have liked to be much more prepared, but you can’t predict injuries…
If you look at your competitors’ short dances for this season, is it one that you like more than others in terms of interpretation, attitude? And I’m asking that from a double perspective: you’re their fellow competitor, but also a Spaniard with a particular feel for this music…
We really like the ones of our teammates, not just Gabriella and Guillaume, but also the Canadian team of Elisabeth Paradis and François-Xavier Ouellette and the Danish Laurence Fournier and Nikolaj Sorensen. They all learned how to move very well and they made a great effort to make sure it was right. It was actually funny because they would ask us: “Hey, am I moving my hands well?” or… “Is this too much?” Like we were pros… but the reality is that we are far from pros (laughing).
Overall, there are many kinds of programs, but, again, it’s really hard to play the big broad flamenco dancing in just 3 minutes with a bunch of rules and elements to do. Flamenco is really big and to master it you need a lot of practice and time, because you also have to feel it in order to make it look good, so let’s say that I thought it will be easier.
At the end of this particular interview, I’d like you to come back to something you said at the beginning: “It’s mainly why we skate how we skate, we want to make people feel, not just get points, that’s another battle to fight…” Would you like to elaborate on that? That’s probably one of the most beautiful (and interesting) things someone has told me when it comes to figure skating…
How can I explain it… In every piece of art, the main objective is to transmit something, a feeling an emotion. In every song, movie, painting etc., there is an emotion to give to the one watching or listening – and we see our skating like this. Of course, to get results there is so much more to do, but our main motivation is that. If not, we wouldn’t enjoy it as much; we would get bored by the middle of the season if we didn’t skate a program which we could tell a story. It’s the special part of this sport: it’s not just about scoring a goal or running faster than the others, you can touch people with your performances and create little pieces of art. I personally find this much more motivating than getting points, they are just numbers, memories are forever.