Siobhan Karam & Kevin O’Keefe – “Notre Dame de Paris”
In a dramatic program to music from the French musical, “Notre Dame de Paris,” Siobhan and Kevin showcased their capacity for a high level of performance. Although the program is still new and the performance is not as dramatic as I would like to see, I think it will develop in that direction over the next few months. An unfortunate mistake on their first lift – an exaggerated hesitation between the two positions – cost them some points, and they struggled a bit with the footwork and twizzles. However, I thought that they looked comfortable together already, after only a few short months, and I look forward to seeing them again later in the season.

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir – “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg”
One true sign of a wonderful dance team is an ability to give a dynamic performance to soft music, and Tessa and Scott did just that with the debut of their free dance. They set a beautiful mood in the arena, and the four minutes just flew by. They had terrific speed and flow, and were clearly in a class of their own. Obviously working hard this summer, they have some great new lifts – acrobatic and impressive, but done very smoothly. If I’m being picky and trying to offer constructive criticism, I would like to see more storytelling from Tessa – her facial expressions remained a bit static throughout the piece, and I’d also like to see more of the angsty side of the love story from both of them. Overall, though, I don’t think they could have had a better debut of this free dance. Much of the crowd stood for them when they finished, and rightfully so.

Lauren Senft & Augie Hill – “Chicago”
This was a fun program, and Lauren certainly has all the personality needed for it, but it was obvious that this is a new partnership. They both made significant errors, including a fall from Augie while they were going into one of their lifts. They also had some unison problems on some of the twizzles. While I enjoyed this performance, especially given the stage of the partnership, I was baffled by the marks. I definitely did not think that it was ten points better than Siobhan & Kevin’s free dance, especially given the mistakes. It felt awkward overall, more so than Siobhan & Kevin’s did to me. However, Lauren is fantastic for this part, and Augie is keeping up with her. I look forward to seeing this program again in a few months at Nationals.

Rebecca Fowler & Michael Olson – “Canon in D” + something else
The thing that stuck with me most about this program, unfortunately, was an extremely abrupt music cut from “Canon in D” to something else. When this sticks with me above all of the skating, it might be time to examine that cut! Besides the music cut, they were very hesitant about this performance, especially in the footwork. They moved across the ice slowly and while everything appeared to be well-rehearsed, I thought that this was not as ready for competition as their original dance was. They do have a good commitment to their interpretation and choreography, though.

Claire Tannett & Wendell McGrath – “The Mission”
After such an entertaining original dance, I felt bad that they had a disappointing free dance. They really seemed to struggle with it, and I wonder if they’ve spent as much time on it as they have spent on their original dance. Even the lifts seemed new and unsure, and it was on a completely different level from the OD. On top of a difficult performance for them, they had two combination lifts, so their last lift did not count at all. I wish they had skated this better, but it did have some nice moments and good lyrical choreography. I think that the program will work well for them once they get another chance with it.