It’s easy to think of a skating show as “just another skating show.”
Don’t get me wrong — I love skating shows! But, more often than not these days, they’re fairly predictable.
Good. Enjoyable. Entertaining. Beautiful. Fun. But predictable.
Maybe “standard” is a better descriptor.
It’s tough, really, in a world as creatively driven as figure skating is, to come up with something that hasn’t been done or seen.
It’s even harder when you jump out of the exclusive figure skating world to do so.
But that’s exactly what long-time Team USA skater Parker Pennington has done with his show, Skate Dance Dream.
“I first came up with the idea when I brought in two of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” finalists (Sara Von Gillern and Gev Manoukian) to a benefit show I produced called “Skate For Life”. Both of these dancers had a background in figure skating and I thought it would be cool to incorporate them into one of my shows,” Parker explained via email last week. “We also had local dancers perform in that show with them. This setting first sparked my vision to blend figure skating and dance into one show.”
And that’s exactly what he and the Skate Dance Dream team did, starting with the first event on August 6, 2011 in Wooster, OH.
The unique blend of skating and dance — involving current national stars from both worlds — was such a success, the show moved on to its second and third performances in Mentor and Gilmour, Ohio earlier this year. And, the response in Ohio was such that Pennington and team are geared up to take this program to the next level — that being New York, of course! — on December 8.
“It is fascinating to me how similar the two art forms are,”Pennington said. “I also love the challenge of doing something different like this. The biggest challenge to make it all come together was finding a way to seamlessly intertwine the two art forms in some of our group numbers.”
In addition to blending the art forms in the show, though, the Skate Dance Dream team opens the door to young local talent, too, providing an entire weekend of dreams come true.
“Each show involves a weekend of activities for them to participate in skating seminars and dance workshops, meet and greets, rehearsals, and at the end of it all, perform in the show with the Stars,” Parker explained. “What is really cool about our production is that all youth skaters and dancers (under the age of 25) are guaranteed to be in our cast. They perform in the spotlights alongside their heroes — the opportunity of a lifetime.”
See, it’s not a show that’s just about showing off the best of the best in the skating and dance worlds. It’s a show — an experience, really — with the goal of inspiring today’s youth to dream bigger and believe in the power of those dreams. Parker knows first hand how much a few kind words from your childhood hero can influence a young mind.
“I had the chance to perform with my hero, Scott Hamilton, in his show years ago,” Pennington shared. “With his words of encouragement, he inspired me to chase after my dreams with my own skating. It was one of my most memorable experiences within skating, one that I will always cherish and remember. Now, with our Skate Dance Dream shows, our Stars have that platform to inspire skaters and dancers in the same way Scott inspired me.”
The show, which includes mentors like U.S. National Medalists, Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti Schmitt, World Team members, Richard Dornbush & Ross Miner, National competitor Sean Rabbitt and Fox’s hit TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” Finalists, takes young dreamers right onto the performance ice (or stage, as it may be) with athletes and performers who are living proof that dreams really do come true.
“I want all of the kids to know they can be anyone they want to be,” Pennington said. “With this experience, I wanted to remove the boundaries of the television screen, so the children could see the Stars up close, getting to know them and hear how they got to be where they are today. The opportunity also gives many of these kids in a small town a chance that otherwise may not come their way. And with the proper guidance, encouragement and support from our Stars, these kids then have the opportunity to spin their dance or skating into any direction they dream of.”
Plus, it makes for a unique, family-friendly, and inspiring show on the day of the performance.
“One of our audience members summed up our experience best by saying that when watching our show, they forgot about all of life’s problems,” Parker told me. “With Skate Dance Dream, we aim to create a universal place of love for the performance arts, for both children, family and fans alike. It is a show experience that is meant to inspire all, with the show theme centered around the kids truly dreaming big.”
On December 8 at 7:00 p.m., the lucky residents in the Clinton, NY area can see it all for themselves. Check on SkateDanceDream.com for tickets and even more info. And after the show, come right back here and let me know how fabulous it was! Deal?