You knew they had it in them: the talent, the potential, the technical proficiency. But we only noticed the spark with this season’s set of programs: Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin chose blues and hip hop as their short dance, but it’s their tango that set them apart in their first event of the season. You can even say the Russians, World Junior Champions in 2013, were the highlight of the ice dancing event at Finlandia Trophy – the highlight and a wonderful surprise. And to many, their tango, choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev, is already on a list of favorite free dances this season.
by Florentina Tone
Alexandra and Ivan got off to a flying start in their first competition of the season, performing their energetic short dance in Espoo – to “Bills” and “At Last” – and comfortably installing themselves on the first place at the end of this particular segment of the event. Later on, in an interview for Inside Skating, they’d tell the story of the short dance in a heartbeat, finishing each other sentences:
“Alexandra: In the short dance we are a sort of rock bikers.
Ivan: Yes, in the beginning, and then we have this story, almost fantastic… At the start of the program we are such rockers, somehow out of control, not quite sober, two people that like to party hard, and then we appear at a ball. The blues kicks off…
Alexandra: Not a ball exactly… We become, maybe, a bit older and arrive in a group where such defiant attitude is not exactly appropriate, and we start dancing to a classic blues, but then anyway…
Ivan: It slips towards hip hop.
Alexandra: And we let our hair down in the end. Because that’s what we’d always wanted to do”
A day later, they’ll be even more convincing, dancing their tango choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev; and described by Alexandra in the same interview: “We are a pair made of a very jealous man and a woman who likes to flirt. And he is expressing his jealousy the entire program: he can’t understand why I am behaving like this — and I become upset with him too. You know, I am with you, but I just like male attention. In the end, he wins over me, he tames me, so to speak, and we stay together”.
The free dance is set to music by Astor Piazzolla – “Libertango”, “Verano Porteño”, “Primavera Porteña” – and, skated with power and sophistication, brought them the gold in Finlandia Trophy, and a lot of admirers. No wonder: their tango is a gem, and, for the first time in Seniors, the figure skating world has its eyes set on Alexandra and Ivan. Their overall score in Espoo: 172.83 points.
Winners of the silver medal in Espoo were America’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue – they too have an impressive set of programs this season, highlighting their qualities and bringing forward Madison’s excellent theatrical skills. In their short dance, Madison and Zachary are skating to a mix tape of hits. Just look at these names and their corresponding songs – and be sure the Americans did justice to each and every one of them: Nina Simone – “Feeling Good”, MC Hammer – “Can’t Touch This”, Salt-N-Pepa – “Push It”, Vanilla Ice – “Ice, Ice Baby”, Sir Mix-a-Lot – “Baby Got Back”, Sugarhill Gang – “Apache (Jump On It)”, DJ Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down for What”.
A day later, they took us all in their journey of love. Skating, again, to a medley of songs (“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” performed by Bootstraps, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” performed by Ingrid Michaelson, and “Earned It” by Bootstraps), the Americans earned 100.45 points for their free dance, and 165.76 overall, and ended the event on the second place.
Third in Finlandia Trophy were Russia’s Tiffany Zahorski and Jonathan Guerreiro. The two skate a sensual, eye-catching short dance this season, to “Nasty Naughty Boy” by Christina Aguilera and “All Night Long” by Parov Stelar.
…while their free dance is to “Nocturne” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, as last season, a program highlighting their long, beautiful lines. Their overall score in Espoo was 153.00 points.
4th in Espoo, with 149.69 points, were Denmark’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen. Their short dance this season is set to blues (“You’re the Boss”, performed by Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret) and swing (“A Little Less Conversation”, performed by the same Elvis Presley).
But it’s the free dance that really touches the viewers’ hearts – Laurence and Nikolaj have chosen to skate to the emotional “Hymne à l’amour”, performed by Patricia Kaas, and their commitment to the dance is really palpable; they do wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriev are a wonderful team to look at – and watch for the following years. They show great potential, and we expect to see them in the final groups at Europeans sooner rather than later. For now, they were 5th in Finlandia Trophy, performing to blues (“Back to the Dirty Town” by Blues Mystery) and hip hop (“Sax” by Fleur East) in the short dance…
…while their free is set to music from the movie “Dirty Dancing” – and what a joy it is to see them skate on such popular songs, wearing appropriate costumes, and coiffures. You don’t have to take our word for it – just look at the photos. Their overall score in Espoo: 147.46 points.
This is Olivia Smart and Adria Diaz’s first season together – and they truly are a well-matched couple. They were 6th in Finlandia, with 142.12 points, but there seems to be plenty of potential in them and their programs. Their short dance is set to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary”…
…while the free dance is to Ludovico Einaudi’s “Experience” – and that’s exactly what they need to gain the following seasons. They do have a good foundation to build upon, and their skating is really pleasing to the eyes.
FURTHER READING – 2016 Finlandia Trophy