Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Rachael Flatt performing at the 2010 Skating and Gymnastics Spactular.

Olympic medalists Bart Conner and his partner and wife Nadia Comaneci, of the perfect 10, continue to annually host, this year with Peggy Fleming, the fabulous Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular.  This year it was broadcast on January 9 on NBC from Allen, Texas.  The live band Lonestar performed much of the music.  If you missed it, the show will be rebroadcast on the Hallmark channel at on March 8, and at on March 14.
The show was live in Oklahoma City in 2008.
Breaking the rules is what makes the Spectacular such fun.  Seeing five top male gymnasts on the parallel bars at one time is great fun.  One at a time they mounted, and sequentially rose to handstands – all five at one time.
During solo performances, they used varying dismounts, including a one and a half somersault.
Gymnasts included Olympians Jonathan Horton, Raj Bhavsar and Kevin Tan.
Choreographing the men’s part of the show “was a nightmare,” said Paul Ziert, choreographer of the gymnastics portion of the show, and the Olympic medal winning OU team of which Bart Connors was a member.  Ziert’s been doing this on and off since 1989 or so.    “It was really fun to do.  Music adds to artistry.  The weird thing is to try to get the guys to listen to music.  They block out everything – that’s how they do it.”  The men don’t even use music in the floor exercise in competition, while it’s an integral part of the women’s floor ex.
Romanian-born Adriana Pop, who lives in Paris, France, and who designs the floor routines for the Bart Connor Gymnastics Academy in Norman, also choreographed much of the connecting women’s gymnastics pieces. “The ice skaters come with their own choreographers,” said Ziert. 
Skating to “The Party Heard Round the World,” the current U.S. pairs champions, Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, skated with a Texas two step touch.  In one lift, he picked her up on one hip with their interlocked hands off the ice, and she rolled over his back and forwards over his head to land on the ice again.

The high bar - Ivan Ivankov

Other highlights included a gymnastics pair in the floor exercises, with a man in a good tumbling run, and two women leaping facing each other on the parallel bars, their costumes daisy dukes and red checked shirts.
Courtney Kupets and Courtney McCool, choreographed by McCool, performed to urban hip hop music with good high leaps that resolved into tumbles.
Holly Vise performed a funny novelty piece on the parallel beam to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” sung by Marilyn Monroe. Vise was dressed as Monroe, with a number of the guys dressed in tuxes.  Piece by piece the pink satin floor length dress was removed to became more performable, but the over the elbow white gloves stayed.  It was incredible that she would mount the beam with gloves, and they came off just before she did.
She did a good backwards somersault and back dismount.
This piece was choreographed by Ziert.  “In skating we show them as women, and in gymnastics we’re trying to keep them as little girls.  I wanted Holly to do a routine that showed her as a woman.”
Rachael Flatt skated the sunny “I’m Walking on Sunshine,” clad in yellow, with an all out skating routine, performing good spins and providing good variety to her routine.
Skater Evan Lysacek used his long body in good leg raised over his head spins.
Gymnast Nastia Lukin did a nice tumbling run in a gorgeous leotard with a large silver sequined curlique pattern.
Finishing up the program were three performances: six men, one at a time, on the high bar – two performing one armed giant swings, one doing a somersault above the high bar, and one doing a reverse somersault catch of the high bar.  They saved the best for last.

The program was highly produced, even though, a few times, the camera seemed at a loss to find the skater, starting at the far end of the rink to focus on a speck.
To find out where the next Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular will be performed live, go to  Steve Disson has produced the skating shows seen on television for the last 30 years, according to Ziert.


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