The original dance event featured a plethora of rhythms with couples taking full advantage of the broadness of the “folk/country” theme and the opportunity to use props, which is allowed this season. From “Hava Nagila” to “Zorba the Greek” and African folk to an Appalachian hoedown, the audience was treated to a wide range of music choices and performances. And costumes. Definitely costumes.
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the U.S. extended their lead to 3.76 points after the original dance phase with an entertaining Appalachian hoedown. Their fantastic expression matched their high technical content showcasing their fast, powerful skating. With most of their programs, I’ve found that Belbin and Agosto put forth 110% into the presentation, and this performance continued that trend.
At 2006 Skate America, I really enjoyed the performances of the French duo, Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, especially their tango OD. This season, they chose a fiery flamenco for their original dance, and they continue to improve in both the technical and presentation areas. Bourzat was on one foot with his legs apart in a V during the fast-spinning rotational lift. It was both striking and well-executed. Their prop of choice was a fan, tucked into the neckline of Pechalat’s costume when she needed both hands free.
Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali presented an Italian folk dance and were third in the OD and overall. Though the program has potential, it was somewhat sloppy here. There were several cool elements including a move where she kind of flips him around. Their lift is stunning, with Faiella holding onto Scali’s foot and her legs in the air like a sail.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S., competing in their first Skate America, pulled up to fourth with their “Kalinka” OD. Wearing bright red and blue costumes and a black cap on White’s blond hair, put out an entertaining–if a bit unpolished–routine with some of the highest technical scores of the afternoon.
Azerbaijan’s Kristin Fraser and Igor Lukanin, fifth in the OD and overall, skated a Russian Gypsy program, Shadritsa, best known to skating fans as the music that Belbin and Agosto used to capture the silver medal at the World Championships in Moscow. Fraser and Lukanin looked strong here, with Lukanin especially getting into the performance.
Americans Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre used wild costumes and makeup to help bring life to their fun African folk program. One of the highlights was their first set of twizzles. Instead of the usual leg position, they both kept their free leg extended out from the hip. A California blond dancing to African music may sound somewhat odd, but the energy and enthusiasm Navarro (and Bommentre) put out there made the audience cheer.