Hey all. I was invited this past weekend to see the Ice Dreams who in Bensenville, IL, starring Johnny Weir, Brandon Mroz, Agnes Zawadski, Ashley Wagner and some terrific local talent including Jordan Moeller and a pair team (who sadly the names I can't remember, sorry!). This show is organized by TaraModlin/Fireworks Sports Marketing.
There was a silent auction (all proceeds going to Red Cross of Japan) and a short fashion show before the ice show started showing off Johnny's new dress line selling on edressme.com.
I didn't take specific notes, but wanted to give my overall impressions of the show. And I can't make this super-thorough since I have a ton of work to do today! I was able to sit with the folks at Rainbo Sports and sit in one of their comfy chairs (huge thanks to them for that!) since the arena bleachers are crazy hard on a pregnant woman!
I went to this show last year and I think it's a great show, mainly because (a) the talent is very high, and (b) the way that arena is laid out means there truly is not a bad seat in the house. Plus parking and access are very easy. I am not a fan of exhibition skating for the most part, but if it's easy and accessible, I'm happy to attend.
All the main skaters mentioned above got to skate two numbers, one before each intermission. I've seen all of them live before in competition and exhibitions, but I thought they all really improved their exhibition skating.
1) Agnes is a rock-solid skater. I predict (and told her as much) that she'll be on the top of the podium someday. Don't know when, but I truly think she'll get there. She has the whole package. Her two numbers she barely missed a beat, and didn't hold back on content either. I got to interview her a bit afterwards. As a local skater, I've been seeing her skate since she was a peanut, so it's nice to see her evolving as she is.
2) Same with Ashley Wagner. Several triples, 2axel, and I must say her flow and grace seem way improved just since US Nationals. How is that possible? Perhaps she's just a tight competitive skater and/or the rigors of IJS just don't allow her to show that side of her skating off. But I was more impressed with her here than in competition. Really lovely.
3) Brandon's first number was nice, but his second exhibition to Greased Lightening was AMAZING. I am a person who normally really doesn't go nuts over exhibition skating, but I was most impressed by his number. He also went for the content, doing 3axel (hand-down) and triples, but it was more that his charisma was so overwhelming. I wish we could get more of this from his competitive skates! Plus he's adorable: I interviewed him afterwards and he couldn't be any cuter, really.
4) Jordan Moeller has been living a bit in the shadow of his training mate Jason Brown (they have the same coach, Kori Ade, who was the Ice Dreams choreographer). But he is no less an up-and-comer. Great flow, edging, solid jumps and spins. It was a nice outlet for him to be able to show off his skills.
5) Johnny's first number was a compilation of remarks/spoken word comments made about johnny (positive and negative) then went into a song. Nice skate, not much jump content but fantastic edging and signature moves (sliding on knees, etc). His second number was Bad Romance. I got to interview him too before the show, and he was nothing but gracious with me.
6) There were also performances by local syncho/dance teams, and one number with what seemed like every girl from the state under the age of 12 who can stand up on skates! It's shocking they can get all those kids on the ice and not have some major accidents. They did the same last year.
7) The dresses worn by the principals were, according to Agnes, provided by edressme. They were some of the nicest skating dresses I've seen. So cute.
8) I got to see some of Johnny's edressme collection up close. They are really cute and well-made. So kudos to him for that.
9) since I know a lot of skating people in the Chicago area, it was nice to bump into a lot of skating friends.
10) got to catch up with Kori Ade, who is a rock-star and one of my favorite people in local Chicago skating. She's a smart cookie, and I just really respect her. And I got to meet her husband who is a cutie (despite accidentally spitting on me while talking , the poor guy was mortified!)
Here are my criticisms:
1) this show has a facebook page but no website, which I think would have been helpful. I think the arena would have been more full with more promotion, but that's an endemic problem with ALL skating shows anyway. And yet there was some great press: Johnny was on a very popular local radio station Friday morning and some smaller local papers covered it. But it seemed more crowded last year.
2) for several reasons, the cynic in me who is very familiar with branding and PR thought the entire show was really a set-up for the next season of Johnny's Sundance show. Reason A) The camera crew from Sundance was following him around. There were not huge crowds of fans swarming him (though of course there were some fans swarming) but I wonder how it will look on-camera, if it seems like he was swarmed. Reason B) he had a small fashion show for the edressme line, but again there wasn't any major press there, so it just seemed contrived and invented for the Sundance crew to cover it. Reason C) there was a "VIP" party afterwards. Held in a tiny room upstairs, catered with a DJ. You needed a wristband to get in, and again the size of the room and Johnny talking with VIP fans will probably make it look like a huge deal on-camera. BUt there were only a few fans outside the room hoping to get to speak with Johnny, and as someone who's been to some VIP events in her life, it wasn't that big a deal. Still, it was a nice way to thank the volunteers and people involved for their help. Reason D) The main characters of the BGJW show (Johnny, Tara, and I'm sure Agnes/Brandon/Ashley will be featured) were dressed to the nines, full professional makeup, etc, as if stylists were lurking behind the shadows. I know Weir and Modlin don't go anywhere without their Loubertins, and yet . . . all that for a teeny tiny show in the middle of Illinois? Hmm.
3) Agnes said they weren't going to be able to keep their cute edressme dresses. Bummer! They looked adorable in them.
4) I've heard before that Tara and Johnny speak to each other in russian so nobody else can understand them. But when I'm standing right in front of them about to do an interview and they decide they want to speak to each other in sekret-club-code, it comes across as rude and bad manners. It would have been more polite if they had just pulled each other aside for a moment to talk, and I would have been more than accommodating. But it left me with a bad taste in my mouth to have two native english speakers just launch into russian just for the purposes so that I couldn't understand them. Pretentious.
I'm always glad to see opportunities for skaters to get visibility, so overall my impression was a very positive one, and the crowd loved it. But I will be very curious to see how it comes across on the next season of BGJW, and if they try to make it seem like a bigger deal than it was. If so, they certainly aren't fooling me. But again, I'm a real cynic about branding and PR. I don't think the audience noticed a thing.
Overall it's a show I would highly recommend if it happens on an annual basis, since the skating quality is terrific, the venue is awesome and easy to dive to, the price is right, and the show inner-workings are well done. Tara Modlin/Fireworks do know how to run a good, quality show.