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Rio 2

by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I usually don’t write 2nd First Look articles about art that’s currently in the public eye and is already getting lots of hype (not that it’s a bad thing; I just figure that most of those things are already on your radar).  I’m also not a big fan of sequels, and will sometimes purposely avoid them (case in point--I refuse to even consider seeing The Neverending Story II or III, as I stubbornly guard my fond childhood memories of the first film). But this time around, I’m bucking those trends and featuring the in-theatres-now children’s movie, Rio 2.

For those who may not have seen the first movie, Rio told the story of a blue macaw (appropriately named Blu, and voiced by Jesse Eisenburg), who had been raised in Minnesota by a human named Linda (voice talent by Leslie Mann).  Their quiet life gets shaken up when a conservationist from Brazil named Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) seeks them out, hoping to take Blu to Rio to introduce him to a female blue macaw, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), and preserve the species, believing that they’re the only two of their kind left.  There’s danger and adventure along the way, with a fun cast of wacky humans and animals.

Since my son and I had seen Rio and both liked its beautiful visuals, comedy, and great characters, we decided to give Rio 2 a try.  I’ll admit that I didn’t have high hopes as we walked into the movie theatre.  My “sequels usually stink” attitude was making me biased, so as the lights went down, the best that I hoped for was that it would be at least partially as good as the first installment.  It turns out that I was about to be pleasantly surprised.

Rio 2 follows Jewel, Blu, and their three children as they venture into the Amazon.  To prevent any spoilers, I won’t reveal much more about the plot, but I will say that viewers are in for just as many--if not more--stunning visuals as the first film.  I remember being captivated by the exquisite animation and brilliant colors in Rio, especially during scenes of the birds in flight, and those showing the Carnaval parade.  There’s plenty of the same in the new movie, with lots of detail and keeps-your-eyes-glued-to-the-screen mesmerizing animation.

Speaking of color, most of the colorful characters from the first film are back too, and I daresay that what was already really good comedy gets kicked up a notch or two.  Bird best friends Rafael the toucan (George Lopez), Pedro (will.i.am), and Nico (Jamie Foxx) join the Blu/Jewel family in their Amazon adventures, as does Luiz the bulldog (Tracy Morgan), uncontrollable drool and all.

Luiz (Tracy Morgan), Rafael (George Lopez), Blu (Jesse Eisenburg), Pedro (will.i.am), and Nico (Jamie Fox)
New faces (and the voices behind them) are Jewel’s dad, and Blu’s intimidating father-in-law, Eduardo (Andy Garcia), and Jewel’s childhood friend, the suave Roberto, voiced by pop star Bruno Mars.  Even the legendary Rita Moreno lends her voice and comedic talent, as Jewel’s Aunt Mimi.

For me, who really shined and kept me laughing out loud though was the duo of cockatoo-gone-bad, Nigel (Jemaine Clement), and a new character, “poisonous” tree frog Gabi, voiced by Kristin Chenoweth.  I’m already a fan of Clement and his humor from his work with "Flight of the Conchords," and loved how he played Nigel in the first Rio movie.  Likewise, I always enjoyed Chenoweth as Olive Snook in the TV series "Pushing Daisies."  Whomever in the casting department decided to pair up her character in Rio 2 with Clement’s deserves a raise or a promotion; while both Gabi or Nigel can shine on their own, it’s the way that they play off of each other that takes it to another level.  More than once during scenes with both Gabi and Nigel onscreen, I found myself sheepishly wondering if my booming laughter was disturbing any of the other moviegoers.

Nigel (Jemaine Clement) and Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth)
Both Rio and Rio 2 are full of music, and Chenoweth’s impressive theatric and singing abilities are put to good use. Gabi the tree frog can go from belting out a tune to bringing it down to a beautifully controlled near-whisper in seconds, thanks to Chenoweth’s talent.  And fans of Clement will appreciate the “big” musical number that Nigel performs in the film.

Even the secondary characters are a lot of fun.  Any time that we visit our local zoo, one of my favorite stops is the exhibit that houses the Emperor Tamarins, little primates that have “moustaches” and remind me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book.  Much to my delight, an Emperor Tamarin shows up as a minor character in Rio 2, along with a slew of other animals that made me giggle (if you plan to see it, keep an eye/ear out for Amy Heidemann’s rapping sloth).

Like the original, Rio 2 offers up ecological and moral issues, challenging the audience to think about our impact on the environment and giving kids life lessons to ponder.  I did feel there were maybe a few too many subplots going on in the movie, and that it might've been better to concentrate on just a few.  But that said, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the film, and my son didn’t seem bothered by it either.

Rio 2 follows in the footsteps of recent children’s movies that aim to entertain parents or other adults too, by providing smart comedy that appeals to a wide age range.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but they won me over, and made me reconsider my almost universal boycott on movie sequels.  If Blue Sky Studios is hatching any plans for a Rio 3 (I wouldn‘t be surprised, considering the success of the previous two films), and asks moviegoers to “Let Me Take You To Rio” again, I might have to agree to it; I’ve had a great time on the other trips so far.


The Loved One

by Dave Gourdoux

(Note:  This article is about "The Loved One," the 1965 film directed by Tony Richardson, not to be confused with the 2009 film "The Loved Ones")

In other articles about older movies, I've written about the production code, the standard for censorship that governed all films shown in the United States for more than thirty five years, from 1930 to 1968, when it was replaced with the first version of the movie rating system (G, PG, R, etc.).  In the 60s, in the midst of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, the production code no longer represented American values. Intended to maintain decency and morality in the movies, it instead came to represent an innocence that we'd already lost.

Among the films that most directly challenged the production code were Elia Kazan's Baby Doll in 1956 and Stanley Kubrick's 1962 adaptation of the Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita.  Both of these films confronted sexual norms and stretched the boundaries of the code.  In 1966, Mike Nichols' adaptation of the Edward Albee play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf continued a pattern of challenging the code's restrictions on language that began with Kazan's 1951 adaptation of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Joseph Mankiewicz and Gore Vidal's 1956 adaptation of the Williams play Suddenly Last Summer.  The common thread between these films were the relatively open and frank discussion of sexually taboo topics (homosexuality and rape in A Streetcar Named Desire, homosexuality and sexual exploitation in Suddenly Last Summer, and impotence and adultery in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.)  These films talked about but didn't show any of their controversial acts, using dialogue that was designed to shock the audience.

The production code was designed to make audiences feel comfortable with what was presented on the screen. This goes against almost every instinct of any self respecting artist, and as film began to be accepted as a serious art form and not just a mechanism for mindless entertainment, audiences responded to those films that challenged the status quo.  It was a time of rampant revolution and rebellion.

One of the films that is often forgotten is 1965's The Loved One, yet no film as blatantly and deliberately thumbed its nose at the code.  Forget about making its audience comfortable; The Loved One sought to make viewers squirm.

In 1947, British author Evelyn Waugh went to Hollywood to meet with studio executives about censorship issues with his script adapting his novel, Brideshead Revisited. It must not have gone well, because after seven weeks he withdrew the book and went back home.  The seven weeks weren't a complete waste of time, though, as he visited the famous Hollywood cemetery Forrest Lawn, and from his observations wrote the essay "Death in Hollywood."  In 1948, he wrote the short satirical novel The Loved One, its protagonist a young English poet who finds work in a Hollywood cemetery for pets.

Soon, the film rights to The Loved One were purchased, but it would be almost twenty years until a film was actually made.  There were several attempts to create a screenplay that would fit the production code standards: one written by the famous Spanish director Luis Bunuel and one written by the great Elaine May, but the material was still too taboo for 1950s Hollywood.

Things had changed by the time the British duo of director Tony Richardson and screenwriter Christopher Isherwood got their hands on the property. It was the mid sixties, and while the production code was dying, American popular culture was exploding, with groundbreaking artists expanding the landscape of popular music, literature and art. It was inevitable that the production code would be a casualty of this cultural revolution. In fact, things had changed so much that Terry Southern, who had co-written the Kubrick masterpiece Dr. Strangelove, was brought in to spice up Isherwood's script.  So the movie was made, a broad and satirical yet dark, possibly the darkest, comedy.  It was promoted as the movie with "something to offend everybody," which is one of the truest tag lines in film advertising history.

It'd been probably thirty years since I'd last seen the film when I stumbled upon a recent airing on Turner Classic Movies.  I was interested in how it'd stand up to the test of time, given that movies, particularly comedies, have come so far in terms of bad taste and willingness to offend in return for a laugh.  The "American Pie" films and nearly any film directed by the Farrelly brothers (for example, There's Something About Mary or Stuck on You) immediately come to mind.  Surely a film made in 1965 couldn't compete with the hair gel scene in There's Something About Mary.

Yet The Loved One did not disappoint, even in it's own gross-out scenes, as the dinner scene with Mr. Joyboy's mother remains one of the grossest, most disturbing scenes ever put on film.  The film is just flat out funny, ingeniously so, yet you find yourself thinking "ewww" at the same time you're laughing.

Richardson was hot property at the time, having won the Best Director Academy Award for his 1963 comedy, Tom Jones.  He was one of a number of young and talented British directors that were known as the "British New Wave," which included names like Richard Lester (A Hard Day's Night and Help!), Jack Clayton (The Innocents), Bryan Forbes (Seance on a Wet Afternoon) and would later add Nicholas Roeg and Ken Russell to their ranks.  With Richardson on board to direct, an A-list of Hollywood and British  stars were eager to participate. The Loved One was no low-budget comedy, and it was no silly slapstick knock-off like the bloated all-star Stanley Kramer vehicle, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World.  The Loved One was skilled satire made by talented artists.

The protagonist, the young English poet who finds himself immersed in the Hollywood death industry, is played by Robert Morse, who viewers in 2014 know from his role as Bertram Cooper in AMC's Mad Men. Nearly fifty years ago, in the early and mid sixties, Morse was the actor Hollywood went to whenever they needed a slight and bumbling young English leading man, appearing in such comedies as How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,  A Guide to the Married Man, and Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?  The Loved One is, in my opinion, his best performance, as he holds his own against such heavyweights as Sir John Gielgud, Jonathan Winters, Rod Steiger, Liberace, and Milton Berle.

Wait - did I say Liberace?  Milton Berle?  Sir John Gielgud?

That's right, they're all in the film, and all are outstanding, as are Anjanette Comer, Roddy McDowell, Dana Andrews, Robert Morley and Lionel Stander.

I won't divulge much about the plot except that the reason Morse finds himself in Hollywood is to visit his uncle (Gielgud), who is fired (by McDowell) from his job of thirty plus years as a production assistant at a Hollywood studio, and subsequently hangs himself.  As his closest heir, Morse is convinced by others to spend most of Gielgud's estate on burial at the plush Whispering Glades cemetery, the in-place for dead Hollywood celebrities to spend eternity.  There, Morse meets and falls for the beautiful but hopelessly sincere cosmetologist Aimee Thanatoegenus (Comer).  Morse's competitor for Comer's affections is the chief embalmer (and Comer's boss), Mr. Joyboy, played by Rod Steiger.

Rod Steiger as Mr. JoyBoy and Anjanette Comer as Aimee Thanatogenus at work
Words cannot adequately describe Mr. Joyboy.  Suffice to say he is one of the most unique characters ever put on film. Steiger, who had already established himself as one of the great film actors of his time in films like On the WaterfrontThe Pawnbroker, and Doctor Zhivago, who would two years later win the Best Actor Academy Award for In the Heat of the Night, has never been better than in The Loved One.  It is, in my opinion, his greatest performance. In the hands of any other actor, Mr. Joyboy would be little more than the caricature the screenplay writes him as, a prissy fuss budget who takes his job embalming bodies a bit too seriously. Stieger breathes life into Joyboy, and makes us respect him, even as he contorts Gielgud's lifeless face into a variety of grins and smiles before settling on the "perfect " expression, even as he expresses his emotions for Comer in the faces of the cadavers he sends her way to apply make up to, and even as he brings Comer home to meet his mom (in the single most disturbing scene in a film full of disturbing scenes). Steiger's Joyboy may be creepy, but he commands respect.  Just watch the facial expressions and sighs that he gives in the in-between moments, when the camera is focused on somebody else, and you'll be watching real screen acting, an actor breathing life into a character and a film about death.  When Steiger is on screen in The Loved One, it's impossible to look at anyone else.

Just as Kubrick used Peter Sellers in duo roles in Dr. Strangelove, Richardson casts the American comic genius Jonathan Winters in two roles, as the phony Reverend Wilbur Glenworthy, creator of Whispering Glades, and his brother Henry, who has also recently been fired by the same Hollywood studio that fired Gielgud and has taken up heading a business of memorializing dead pets. Winters' wacky brand of comedy was never really captured in movies, but I think  The Loved One comes closest, particularly in the scene where Reverend Wilbur reveals who he really is.

The plot is merely an excuse to show us orgies in caskets filled with living prostitutes, a morbidly obese woman who reaches orgasm by eating everything in sight, drunken newspaper advice columnists, and space ships designed by a thirteen year old rocket scientist to send dead dogs and later a dead astronaut (at least everyone THINKS it's a dead astronaut) into eternal orbit.

Liberace shows up as a casket salesman: "All of our units are waterproof.  This one is moisture proof. This one is dampness proof."  He points out the differences in the material lining the inside of each casket, and that he prefers silk, as rayon tends to chaff; and the difference between the standard eternal flame and the perpetual burning eternal flame. It's a small but creepy role, but he is astonishingly good in it.

Richardson's direction is frenetic and fast, like Richard Lester's films with the Beatles'  A Hard Day's Night and Help!. It's paced so that you don't have much time to absorb the lunacy; it just keeps coming at you, wave after wave of it.  It's not visually striking (it's rather a mess), but such is often the case with the best comedies.

Comedies about death are few and far between. The Burt Reynolds directed vehicle The End (1978), Tim Burton's  Beetlejuice (1988),  Robert Zemeckis's Death Becomes Her (1992), Albert Brooks' Defending Your Life (1991) and the 1994 zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead quickly come to mind.  Those films all explore the comedic elements inherent in the awareness of our own mortality.  The Loved One is the only comedy I can think of that's about the process of dying and the industry of death.  It's a satire poking fun at what remains our most taboo and forbidden and sacred subject and about how, only in America, death becomes yet another capitalistic pursuit.

At the time, American movie audiences were growing more sophisticated and demanding, but they weren't ready yet for The Loved One. It flopped at the box office, and initial critical reaction was mixed, at best, with many of the leading critics of the time expressing shock and outrage.  The film has grown in critical stature since, but it's still difficult to find many people who've seen it.  Maybe people still aren't ready to laugh at the how we process the dead.  Maybe they never will be.


David McFadden's Great Lakes Suite

by John Bloner, Jr.

Three books that make up The Great Lakes Suite, written by David McFadden and published by Coach House Press
This article began on April 9, 2000 when I posted a review of the Canadian author/poet, David McFadden's collection, "Great Lakes Suite", on the Amazon website. 14 years later, it remains as the only review of this edition at that online location. This fact does not mean that McFadden has toiled in obscurity as a writer over the 50-plus years since his first poem was published in 1958. He most recently won the Griffin Poetry Prize, a significant honor. This prize is the world's largest monetary prize for a 1st edition, single collection of poetry in the English language. McFadden was honored for his book, "What's The Score?"

McFadden had already won my personal Nobel, Pulitzer and Pushcart Prizes many years ago for three slim stories of his van trips around three of the Great Lakes--Erie, Huron and Ontario.  On the first two trips, he was accompanied by his wife, two daughters, and dog, Bruce. On the final one, "A Trip Around Lake Ontario", by a film crew.

I came across McFadden's book, "A Trip Around Lake Erie", when a clerk at the now-defunct Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin told me about it. I had not heard of McFadden prior to that time, but that clerk must have either seen something in my gait, for I've walked McFadden since that day.

David McFadden and his partner, Merlin Homer (photo credit: Stuart Ross)
To walk McFadden means that his writing style resonates with me. If I were a store clerk, I'm not sure where I'd place his books in the shop. On the surface, they're travel books, so a lazy clerk might shelve them in the travel section. McFadden's style leans toward prose poetry, so someone could find these slim volumes in the poetry section. They might wind up under "essays" in a big box bookseller, although the books' Walter Mitty-esque elements might land them in the "humor" section. There's also some philosophizing in their pages; not enough to make your eyes glaze over and just enough to make you feel that you're getting smarter by reading them.

If I were a store clerk, I'd clear some shelves and make my own "McFadden" section. I'd pay it forward from the clerk at Harry W. Schwartz and lead select customers to David McFadden's many books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry by sensing something in their eye, their turn of phrase, or their gait that would let me know they'd cherish a trip to this special part of the store.

The late, great independent Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA
 (photo credit: http://milwaukeedailyphoto.com)
Toss/ a dart at the map of Canada/where it lands is/ where you'll find me -- David McFadden, "On The Road Again."

More precisely, toss a dart between the years of 1940 and 1978 onto a map of the Canadian province of Ontario, landing it on the steel-producing City of Hamilton, and you'd find David McFadden.

McFadden describes his hometown in the opening chapter to "A Trip Around Lake Erie":

"Hamilton, Ontario--on the road map a little blob of yellow at the western tip of Lake Ontario. It's a dirty, dreary, burnt-out industrial city, a place covered by a perpetual black cloud, and it's not a great place to live."

Hamilton, Ontario (photo credit: www.steeltownkids.com)
While it's often clear when McFadden is putting one on the reader, it's more fun to read each chapter as if he's telling it straight.

For example, in his second book of this series, "A Trip Around Lake Huron", McFadden describes a stop at Mackinac Island State Park. First, he describes the sailboats on the water, the beautiful day with its puffy clouds and autos streaming over the Mackinac Bridge, and comments on the Great Lakes system.

"We were located precisely at the centre of gravity of the entire Great Lakes system, the point of balance. We were at the centre of the watery universe. Any water anywhere in the entire universe had at one time passed through these straits and was akin to the water that was now passing through these straits, and into Lake Huron . . ." (from "A Trip Around Lake Huron" by David McFadden.)

Unless you've read other work by this author, you're not prepared for what is to follow.

A view of Mackinac Bridge from Straits State Park.  (Photo credit: pioneer-spirit.blogspot.com)
In the next paragraph, McFadden turns his lens from wide-angle ("We were at the centre of the watery universe") to closeup, as some figures (literally) capture his attention.

"There were dozens of pretty girls in bikinis lying on the beach. Above them fat gulls were soaring, content with not being human. Suddenly, the girls were naked, lying there without even their bikinis and the gulls were flying up there wearing little swimsuits and with lipstick on their beaks."

What is going on in McFadden's three books has been going on in his other work for many years.

McFadden is a poet, essayist, writer of fiction and nonfiction, but, above all, he is a trickster, as found in Native American storytelling. Author Barbara Babcock-Abrahams writes of this character, "His creative cleverness amazes us and keeps alive the possibility of transcending the social restrictions we regularly encounter."

(photo credit: www.strangedaysindeednews.blogspot.com)
In a short video that celebrates McFadden upon his receipt of the Griffin Poetry Prize, a narrator says of him, "While reading his beautiful, clear language, you sense that he is a trickster, but you cannot help believe in every stanza he writes."

He is able to mix the cosmic with comedy. He leavens longing with laughter.

(graphic by John Boyle)
Since he wrote the "A Trip Around ...." stories, McFadden has taken readers on tours of other countries in his books on Ireland, Scotland, Newfoundland and Cuba.

On the occasion of his 70th birthday, he received a festschrift with words from friends and family. In his blog, Serif of Nottingblog, Gary Barwin of McFadden's hometown of Hamilton, writes, "They should name a certain kind of bemused happy/sad wonder after him. A quirky curiosity."

Maybe it's because many of my favorite writers, musicians and comedians come from Canada, but I'd long felt that many Canadians must enjoy their turn on this road of life a bit more than the sad rest of us. Only a Canadian would  think of naming their one dollar coin, a "Loonie," their two-dollar coin, a "Toonie," and their ATM machine, a "Johnny Cash."

David McFadden's world through his writings compounds my belief. In the early 1990s, I didn't take my family on a trip around Lake Ontario, but I did drive them over 500 miles to the city of Hamilton to see if was the dirty, dreary wonder as McFadden had described it. I didn't find the author there--he had long ago moved to Toronto--but I did discover a used bookstore, where the shop owner with cataracts was selling cartons of loneliness at half-price, a cheap 1970's vintage radio on a back counter was playing "Stranger Song" by Leonard Cohen, and on a high shelf, selling for four bucks Canadian, was McFadden's well-worn novel, "Canadian Sunset," signed by the man himself.

1986 novel by David McFadden (Photo of author by Toronto Transit Commission)

To learn more about this author, read George Bowering's fabulous essay, "Proofing The World: The Poems of David McFadden," pick up a copy of his "A Trip Around..." books, or take the kids on a car trip around Superior or Lake Michigan and put it all down in a story, so I can write about you some day.

(Artwork by Jennifer Thermes)


The Beauty of Ice Dance

By Jess Fitzi

Alright, so the Winter Olympics are over until 2018. Let’s all have a moment to cry about that. If you’re anything like me, the Winter Olympics are a big deal to you, and you probably turn into a crazy person for a few weeks every four years. That’s okay though, because if we’re being honest here, what these people, particularly the Ice Dancers, can do with their bodies is pretty darn incredible. Not only do ice skaters need to tone and strengthen their bodies to withstand the pressure and intensity they put it through via sport, they also need to interpret the gracefulness and dedication to perfect the art of dance. The combination of art and sport in this activity is an amazing talent that deserves every ounce of respect that it receives. Two ice dance teams in particular deserve an honorable mention. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the Canadian Ice Dancing Team, who took home gold in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympics, truly are some of the most talented skaters out there and bring immense pride to Canada. This is without even mentioning their unbelievable chemistry and the fact that they are just oh-so-adorable. Tessa and Scott began skating together when Tessa was seven and Scott was nine-years-old. Scott has said that he feels bad for any other girl he skated with as a child, because he would go only a few minutes before requesting to skate with Tessa again. Even as a kid, Scott knew there was only one partner for him. (Seriously, so cute, right?) The two make the dance aspect of skating look easy; they have this light-on-their-skates feel to them that instantly captures your attention and makes you fall in love with them. 

Tessa & Scott, after their Olympic winning performance in 2010.
The other team high on my radar is the American Ice Dancing team, who just took home gold from Sochi 2014: Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Meryl and Charlie also started ice skating as a team as young children, but seem to have a strangely different relationship than their competitors. While Tessa and Scott describe their relationship as, “Not quite romantic, not quite brother-sister, and not quite best friends, but kind of all three,” Meryl and Charlie have said that they are definitely best friends. Particularly after their final Sochi performance, the one that ultimately won them gold for the first time in their careers, Charlie mouthed something to Meryl after they finished that he later disclosed to be “I love you.” When asked about his notion for saying this, he mentioned that he had never said it before and he just felt so emotional and thankful for the partner and friend he had by his side that it just felt like the right thing to say. Meryl and Charlie really capture the beauty of skating, with their exotic music choices, gorgeous costumes, and extensive skill and tenderness while dancing.

Meryl & Charlie, in one of their more beautiful costume choices.
If we’re being honest here, this kind of long term, close and trusting companionship, while also sharing a love and passion for the same art, is something we all crave. Not only do these four get that connection individually with each other, they get it as a group. The most peculiar thing about these two teams, who have gone back and forth winning gold and silver metals in every competition since they were children, is that they train in the same ice arena, with the same coach. It honestly seems like a train wreck to anyone who hears this bit of information, but somehow these four made it work. They have all said that they are great friends off the ice, and competitors on the ice. Something about this has always touched me, making their programs slightly more intriguing to watch. The immense level of respect and adoration I previously had for the two teams doubled when I discovered how close they all were, along with how respectful they are towards each other regarding the love of skating and dance they all share.

Meryl & Charlie's Olympic winning performance in Sochi 2014
The combination of dance, sport, and chemistry between each team is simply mesmerizing to witness. Scott has admitted that he and Tessa see themselves as actors or performers on the ice and that in most programs, and songs they skate to, they are playing the part of a man and a woman in love. This realization makes watching the pair perform a completely different experience. While they were always beautiful to watch, it was made even more interesting to connect ice skaters with actors. Weird, right? I thought so too, until I really took into consideration what they’re doing during a performance. Just like a theater performer, ice dancing couples need to really sell their performance. Having a connection with each other is vital, as the chemistry is a rather large part of the whole concept of partnership. Both teams show this chemistry, but Tessa and Scott particularly have this unbelievable connection that is obvious with every synchronized move they make, as well as how they look at each other. In the video below, it shows one of my personal favorite Tessa and Scott performances, where they dance to Rhianna’s “Stay”. The performance is just so intense and the looks they give each other, as well as the hand movements, are just incredible. Even though every step and move is practiced and perfected, they make it look so spontaneous and effortless. 

As a whole, ice dancing is hugely overlooked in the world of art. Most will pass it off as a sport, looking at only the technical judging and athletic movements involved. Others can see more into the dance aspect, and realize how musically dependent and theatrical the sport really is. The American and Canadian Ice Dance teams are the best in the world (going back to that judging and technicality) and the most beautiful. They have opened my eyes to how artistic and wonderful my favorite sport really is. 

Meryl, Charlie, Tessa & Scott, with their gold/silver metals after the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics