Performing Arts: Dance
May 9, 2022
The air was crisp and chilly as the audience arrayed themselves of the bleachers of Sky Rink at the Chealsea Piers to watch Ice Theater of New York’s Home Season program. A family event through and through, the atmosphere of the rink was jovial, and the show—running a tight 50 minutes—left the audience sated but certain to attend again. This is in no small part due to the immense talent of the performers who collectively hold a considerable number of ice dance and figure skating titles and awards.

The audience certainly appreciated the technical skills on display erupting in applause as impressive lifts, turns, and jumps were landed with ease. Equally compelling was the choreography, as in Mauro Bruni’s Body Parts, which stood out as a glowing example of modern dance on ice. The five performers wore bright monochromatic outfits, and moved with the flowing grace of waves crashing on a shore, shifting seamlessly between gentle lyricism and roiling bedlam.

Often, the dancers arrived to moments of stillness with knees, hand, and sides pressed against the ice to great dramatic effect. Between each dance the sound of skates on ice was titillating, the gentle scraping of dancers setting themselves kept the audience leaning in for the appearance of the skater in the spotlight.

Such a moment was the opening of Emanuel Sandhu’s performance to Madonna’s Vogue, where he snapped along to the song’s rhythmic start. Then, oozing with charisma, he deftly executed the choreography by Joanne McLeod and Cesar Valentino -- full of smart footwork and dynamic gestures that brought the music to life. In a particularly delightful moment, he threw off his black suit jacket and dynamically spun on the ice, revealing the glittering back of his crisp dress shirt. But as fun to watch as Vogue was, it’s sparkling queerness put many of the other dances into an odd perspective, reminding the audience that (much like classical ballet) ice dance easily falls into heteronoramtive pairings, where men and women perform very specific gender roles dictated by the form.

But by the end of the show, such worries were far from mind, instead one might marvel at the map that spread itself across the vast plane of ice, a myriad of rivulets cut into the rink by skates, tracing how the performance unfolded in gentle arcs, tight spirals, and delicate piles of ice shavings.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

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