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Ice-skating: III

Dear friends and readers,

It was but my third year going to The Stars on Ice (supported by Smuckers Jam) (see Year 2), which tours the US, but I this year felt again what I did the first:  exhilaration at the emotions roused, intense vicarious pleasure, and the allure of a music, light and casually dramatic show.   Izzy has written a blog which far surpasses what follows:  she conveys the experiences precisely while evaluating them.  I'm just adding a few scattered disconnected thoughts to commemorate the experience and spread the word to people who've not yet gone.

Again I loved John Zimmerman and his partner:


Zimmerman alone -- in another year, thinner than this year.

Zimmerman is the strongest of the males: a kind of American Gerard Depardieu -- he threw his partner about and there was awe at it. Probably I ought not to have enjoyed this the way I did.  Again Todd Eldridge.  I'm now aware of the power (he's a strong athlete) and facility of Michael Weiss:



Also his genuine desire to entertain and have new and different numbers: this time in a farmer's overalls.

The woman try for grace and lyricism, even Sasha Cohen:



The group dancing is a kind of controlled wildness in joyous patterns.


Group scene from another year.

The second part of the program (or second hour) was much more exhilarating and well-chosen, with fascinating contrasts.  They seem to have held off their rivetingly intriguing dances until then and the dances were beautifully segued into one another.  A gothic scene of the woman dancer in white frills and the man in black, making gestures reminiscent of Catholic praying, the man as dominant animus (Tanith and Bed) moved into a man and women in gay reds skate-dancing to 1920s style music.  We had a sequence of two men as touching bums; Sasha Cohen in German 1920s cabaret style dress dancing to Peggy Lee's Fever. Group sequences were 1920s honky-tonk around a piano



I went this morning to see if during the long 18th century there had been any new or good developments in ice-skating in Europe.  It seems it was during our long era that people began to have contests and as it were play on ice skates. A once famous understudied comic view of a minister on ice:


Henry Raeburn? Minister on Ice

Many mother-daughter pairs of all ages in the seats. Izzy and I fit right in.

I'll bet there is beautiful poetry of skating in the Georgian poems of the year, perhaps in Thomson's Seasons. It's so sad that in the later 18th and most of the 19th century middle class women in the UK who skated were frowned upon (as potentially promiscuous !).  But women began to do it: the BBC adaptation of H. E. Bates's Love for Lydia has a stunningly beautiful sequence in moonlight.)

It was hard for women to become competitors and it was in 1904 the first women dared, then there was an attempt to exclude by calling the professional teams all-male but that did fail. I wonder if women were the major audience in the first part of the 20th century too. At one time it was thought men skaters would not draw crowds and men were discouraged; the sport is tainted for them by prejudice against men doing anything connected to the feminine and ice-skating is also a form of ballet.  So nowadays if a male skater is homosexual, he may well try to keep his sexual orientation a secret or hidden.

Ellen

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