Heating up the ice
As carefully conceived as an intricate ice sculpture, the annual Martha's Vineyard Figure Skating Club (MVFSC) Ice Show involves a considerable amount of planning and dedication for what will be a memorable, but short-lived spectacle. This weekend, for two performances only, the MVFSC presents a full-length program of routines featuring students of all ages and levels. This year's theme encompasses pop music of four decades, and involves tunes made famous by one-hit wonders.
The show's director, Jane Elizabeth Taylor, says that she wanted to pick a light, fun theme this year, and "One Hit Wonders" is sure to provide a trip down memory lane, whatever someone's age. Even the young skaters are enjoying the music and the splashy costumes.
Photos by M.C. Wallo
The show is filled with lively songs that exemplify different eras, even some popular gimmicky tunes such as: "Walk Like an Egyptian," "It's My Party," and Hanson's "MMMbop." The music lends itself to dance routines. "Play That Funky Music," and "Can't Touch This," will be both performed with a good dose of attitude, featuring funk moves and high-fives.
The kitschy costumes will add to the fun as the fashions cover the 50s to the 90s - everything from polka dotted circle skirts to bright orange baggy pants. The Tots will skate to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," wearing many costumes that were sown by Ms. Taylor's mother, Abby Taylor.
The club's two coaches, Ms. Taylor and Beth Blankenship-O'Connor, take turns each year directing the show, although the two always split much of the work, including the choreography. This year Ms. Taylor took the lead, choosing the theme and songs and producing the show. She says, "I started with the planning stage of this show over a year ago."
There are 14 young skaters involved in the bulk of the numbers, as well as a guest star and the two coaches themselves, who will skate to a medley of Oldies. The younger Tots and Learn to Skate groups will also take a turn on the ice. Olivia Ogden, Taylor Nelson, and Annie Flaherty will perform solos.
Ms. Ogden has appeared in the show for the last seven years. The talented 11-year-old's practice schedule would be grueling for anyone, but is especially remarkable for a sixth grader. She says that she sometimes starts at six in the morning, other times she skates from 8 pm on. "There are a lot of people who are determined to do this," she says, "but it's worth it in the end."
Ms. Taylor describes the children's dedication: "They skate four to five days a week during the winter. When the rink closes in April, we travel off-Island one day a week to skate."
Soloists prepare all season to take tests with United States Figure Skating Association in order to qualify for show solos. In preparation for the annual show, the skaters first learn the choreography off the ice. Once they take to the ice, the rehearsals become very focused, as the youngsters work to achieve a perfectly synchronized flow.
Guest skater Gretchen Donlan will be participating in the MVFSC show for the third year. The 15-year-old professional, who is just one level from being an Elite Skater, will bring her own music and routine. According to Ms. Taylor, "Gretchen is a crowd pleaser. She has a real star quality about her. She executes a lot of show-stopping moves that are beautiful to watch."
Ms. Ogden, noting that the show is the culmination of a year's worth of preparation, says, "Everyone's so excited." She refers to the backstage commotion, and says, "But once we're on the ice it's all great. Once the music gets going, there's no going back."
Annual Ice Show, "One Hit Wonders," Saturday, March 21, 7 pm, and Sunday, March 22, 2 pm, Martha's Vineyard Ice Arena. $8; $5 child, senior, student; $25 family.
Gwyn McAllister is a regular contributor to The Martha's Vineyard Times.