After a three-year hiatus, the Stars on ice The tour is back in Canada, and no one could be happier than show choreographer Jeffrey Buttle, who hadn’t performed in front of an audience since December 2019.
But, having worked on the show since 2010, Buttle had a vast repertoire of experience to draw from, which proved to be an invaluable asset he could rely on after the long hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. .
“We’ve all been craving live audiences for so long, and I think audiences are craving live performances as well,” Buttle said. “You have this feeling of relief that things are happening again and everyone is enjoying being able to play and people are enjoying being back in the stands. A lot of skaters had competed without an audience so everyone was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Buttle started its 2022 Stars on ice “Journey” – which is the theme of this year’s shows – to Japan. He and his assistant choreographer, Tyler Myles, a former Canadian ice dancer and now a coach, spent two weeks working on pre-production in Calgary, then traveled to Japan to set up the show. The Japanese leg of the tour saw three performances in Osaka and three in Tokyo.
They then traveled to Fort Myers, Florida to set up the US leg. “It’s been a busy month but everything has gone well and I’m really happy,” said Buttle, the 2008 world champion. “Tyler is a childhood friend who also trained in Mariposa, so working together on the series was a pleasure. We spent half the time laughing.
The US tour is currently taking place in 24 cities, while 12 shows will take place in Canada.
This year, there are six new cast members on the Canadian tour: Elladj Baldé, Keegan Messing, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, Satoko Miyahara and Alissa Czisny. “Almost half of the cast are rookies, rookies, so it’s great to have this new energy,” Buttle said, adding that Messing had arrived in Halifax for rehearsals but his skates still had a times been delayed.
“The first day in Halifax was one of excitement. For so many over the past two years it was “the tour is on” and then “no, it’s cancelled”. I think we all got used to things being canceled or postponed, so for all of us to be there in person and realize this was actually happening was such a relief. The group was so excited to be back on the ice.
“Opening night in Halifax was my first show in a long, long time. It was great; just a joy is how i would describe it. I was a little nervous, you know, skating under the lights…but it all came back on repeat. It’s something I’ve missed a lot in my life. »
Buttle said the concept of “Journey” is a way to share each skater’s individual experiences and to thank everyone who has helped them along the way. “I really wanted him to speak on behalf of the skaters on their personal journey through the Olympics, the pandemic; the journey through their lives and to share with the public those who have shaped the personal journeys of the skaters.
“An Olympic year makes you look back and think of all the people who have helped you along the way, and I think this journey can draw parallels for everyone in their life. It’s not just Olympians, it’s not just athletes – everyone can relate to that. You really need a village. So on behalf of all skaters, it’s just great to pay tribute to the people who helped them get here.
“Everyone was invited to submit photos of their trip. It’s so fun to see pictures like those of Satoko when she was 3 years old scroll across the screen. You get a little glimpse into each other’s lives – little glimpses you might not have known. It’s a bit of a retrospective for everyone.
Buttle had the opportunity to see the “I Lived” program that Jason Brown had chosen before the start of the American tour. He said he was totally enthralled by the routine. “I was at the Cricket Club and Tracy (Wilson) asked me if I wanted to see it. I was like ‘sure!’ It’s an endearing piece that he brings his personality to. It brings a tear to the eye just looking at it because it’s very heartfelt – it’s just perfect for the show and perfect for the message. And, well sure, it’s just amazing.
The three-time Canadian champion is full of praise for newcomers to the Canadian tour. “Elladj brings this new energy. He does a hip hop number in the first act that looks like him. It’s hard to imagine anyone else succeeding at what they do. In the second act, he skates a tribute to his Guinean heritage. It’s a more traditional look and it’s so stunning. He just has this really nice energy.
“Mike and Kirsten came up with brand new pieces which I believe were choreographed by Mark Pillay. They are so much fun. They took to traveling like a fish to water and were a wonderful addition to the tour. As it’s their first time on tour, it can be a daunting thing with rehearsals and learning to skate with a band, getting into formation and stuff like that, but they’ve been such pros. Before the shows, Mike is in the dressing room to study the videos before going out every night.
“And, oh my God! They have one of the best headbangers I have ever seen. The opening number is ACDC, which really rocks and has a lot of energy. So I asked them, ‘Do you do a headbanger?’ They said yes, but you don’t know what that means if you haven’t seen it in person. Anyway, the first one they did my jaw dropped. It was so dynamic.
“With Satoko, it’s so refreshing to have an international touch in the cast. She has this wonderful routine in the second half to Giovanni Pergolesi’s ‘Stabat Mater Dolorosa’ which was choreographed by Kenta Kojiri, a contemporary Japanese dancer. And she’s wearing this beautiful white dress that’s the length of an ice dancer’s costume. It’s just breathtaking.
Buttle also has a new show schedule set to a version of the Beatles classic “In My Life” that he and his longtime choreographer David Wilson collaborated on. “These are images of people who have shaped my life in and out of skating. It’s hard for me not to be overwhelmed with emotion when I’m skating and watching the screen – seeing my mum and dad, my sister David and my coach Lee (Barkell). It’s a tribute to all the people who really made me who I am,” Buttle explained.
Wilson, who choreographed Buttle’s programs throughout his competitive career, was happy to return to work with one of his favorite students. “Jeff actually found Diana Krall’s version and it only took us three days to design the program. After working together for so many years, that was all the time we needed,” he said. -he declares.
When asked about his favorite part of the show, Buttle cited the finale, which is “an 11-minute marathon on a bunch of Elton John hits. If we did all of his hits, it would be a four hour number, but it’s so much fun to play.
“It’s such a fun show. I can tell the skaters really love doing it and it’s exactly the kind of energy the fans will appreciate after a three-year break.
SKATES ORDER/MUSIC LIST – CANADIAN TOUR
SKATE ORDER/MUSIC LIST – US TOUR
JASON BROWN LOVING LIFE ON STARS ON ICE