Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fantasy on Ice 2015

Fantasy on Ice 2015 is over, full of wonderful memories... and I would like to share my very special experience here.
------------------------------------------------On Saturday afternoon's show, we had a problem with the ice rink (they found a couple of holes on the ice), right before my first number with Akiko Suzuki and they had to repair the rink. As it didn't seem to be finished soon, Akiko and I drew backstage. Then I told the stage manager that I could maybe play something solo. And they accepted it.
So I went on the stage and played "Chopin's Ballade No.1". I chose this piece because Yuzuru Hanyu, the Gold medalist of Sochi Olympic games, skated to it in the last season. As I announced the piece, the whole audience got excited. The staff told me that the repairing work would take more than 5 minutes, but in fact they finished it in 4 minutes, so I thought I should cut the piece... It was an unusual experience to think about how I could shorten the piece while I was playing!! Anyway, I managed to make it like within 6 minutes in total. And they gave me a standing ovation as soon as I played the last note. I heard afterwards that Yuzuru was watching my performance and dancing to it at the rinkside. It was already a huge honor for me.
But the story went on, even more exciting. At the dinner on that day, Yuzuru came to me and said, "Could you play the Ballade no.1 once again at the end of the tomorrow's show (the last show) and collaborate with me?" You can't imagine how I was overjoyed and enthusiastic about his request!
However, it seemed a huge challenge because the music he used was already edited at several spots and it was in different tempi from mine. (You can find it on youtube by searching for "Yuzuru Hanyu Ballade") So, in order to study his interpretation I spent about an hour watching his skating on youtube (it's actually from a recording of Zimmerman).
The next day, I had only 20 minutes for my rehearsal and Yuzuru and I rehearsed about 10 minutes. Then we did the show...
It was an unforgettable moment and a very unusual situation to play and collaborate at the end of the finale with all the skaters and all the other artists (Tomotaka Okamoto, Sarah Alainn, Edvin Marton) watching our collaboration at the rinkside! I still can't believe this happened in such a way...
I would like to thank Yuzuru and all the people involved, including the audience. I am really impressed by Yuzuru, who had very hard programs at each show, yet taking care of so many things, motivating his fellow skaters, treating the artists with courtesy and doing his best to arouse the audience to enthusiasm. And believe it or not, he is still 20 years old!
Now I'm off to Europe having a tight schedule (playing in Lodève, Dresden and Paris in 4 days and going back to Japan immediately!), but I'm fully encouraged by all the wonderful figure-skaters and artists in the Fantasy on Ice, feeling strong enough to try 3 jump-combo! ;)

The photo shows Yuzuru with the audience at the end of the show.
(photo taken and provided by Miki Ando)