by Gina Capellazzi / Photos by Daphne Backman
A rhythm dance to the song “Bye, Bye, Bye” sung by the early 2000’s boy band NSYNC.
A mid-program costume change in their Hunger Games free dance.
So how are Eva Pate and Logan Bye planning to top their 2021-2022 season programs that were among their favorite programs and that were well-received by fans?
“That’s a good question,” Bye told Ice-Dance.com. “How do you get better every year? How do you do what you did last year and keep it still exciting, especially with a new quad.”
But exciting and fun is exactly what the 22-year-old and 24-year-old, who train under Igor Shpilband in Novi, Michigan, are aiming for this season with their programs.
“I think we are really trying to push our limits,” Pate said about their programs this season. “We don’t really do anything super easy. We’re really trying to push our limits, push the creativity, push the technical elements, everything.”
For their free dance this season, the team is skating to “Reel Around the Sun” from the 25th anniversary of Riverdance. Pate said they were just thinking of different ideas on what to do for their free dance and that one just stuck with them so they took it to their choreographer, Pasquale Camerlengo.
“He was like, ‘Let’s try it. It’s so fun and happy,” Pate said of Camerlengo’s reaction.
Yet, not everyone had the same reaction to the music selection. Pate and Bye said Shpilband wasn’t sold on them skating to Riverdance.
“He was on the fence (about it),” Bye remarked.
However, while Shpilband was at the Olympics in Beijing, Camerlengo went ahead and choreographed the program. When Shiplband came home and saw the program, his opinion changed.
He was like, ‘Wait, I really like this for you guys,’ Pate said.
“It worked out well,” Bye added.
Pate and Bye both have Irish heritage, which Pate noted in her social media post announcing their free dance. The post included a 1914 wedding photo of her great-great grandfather, John Craven. The team also told Ice-Dance.com that one of their choreographers, Renee Petkvoski, traveled with Celtic Thunder, an Irish stage show, for six to eight months. Along with having Petkvoski’s knowledge of the Irish dance world, the team also watched previous Riverdance programs for inspiration. Riverdance programs, like Canada’s Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz’s 1997-1998 free dance and Jason Brown’s free skate from 2014.
“We are not trying to top anybody or anything,” Pate explained. “We are just trying to make it our own version of what we believe Riverdance is.”
“After watching those two programs, it is really nice to see the crowd and everyone engaging in the programs, and I think that’s something we are hoping to pull from,” Bye added.
Pate and Bye, who finished eighth at the 2021 U.S. Championships, debuted work-in-progress free dance costumes at Lake Placid. Pate is wearing a green dress that’s modeled off the dress that the lead female dancer wears in the show. The costumes are being designed by Jane Pastor.
While Pate and Bye got an early start on their free dance, they had to wait a little longer to start working on their rhythm dance. That’s because the International Skating Union (ISU) did not release the technical requirements for the rhythm dance until mid-April, which was three months after the end of Pate and Bye’s season.
“It was kind of stressful,” Pate admitted about waiting for the requirements.
“We weren’t sure if we were doing any compulsory dance within the rhythm dance itself. We knew it was going to be Latin, but we weren’t sure what rhythms it was going to be, whether it was going to be bossa nova or meringue. We had no idea,” Bye explained. “So we were kind of just experimenting with compulsory (dances). Then we had heard a rumor that there wasn’t going to be one, so we weren’t too concerned with it. Really, it was coming up with the music itself, trying to figure out what Latin music to work with.”
Pate and Bye will be skating to the “Beautiful Creatures”, “Fly Love” and “Real in Rio” from the 2011 movie “Rio”. Pate told Ice-Dance.com that she had previously used that soundtrack when she competed in solo dance in 2018.
“I really liked it and the crowd really liked it so I was like ‘let’s look into it,’” Pate explained.
“It’s really cool, it has really neat drum beats,” she added. “Our whole rhythm dance is definitely carnival and fun.”
The team admits it’s weird not having a pattern in their rhythm dance this year. Both say they miss the technical element that has been the essence of the rhythm dance.
“I love patterns. I just think they are so classic,” Pate shared. “I really miss patterns because I liked to work on them.
“I definitely miss having it,” Bye echoed Pate’s sentiments. “It’s a bit of tradition and knowing that this is where ice dance came from on top of the fact that because you’re doing the same steps, it’s easier to tell exactly who’s the better skater and who’s not because you all have the same steps, even though the partnering and the holds can be different, as we did have last year in the blues.”
In May, Pate and Bye had the opportunity to work with Olympic bronze medalist and three-time U.S. Champion Zachary Donohue.
“He’s an amazing lifter,” Bye spoke of Donohue. “On the last day (of working with him), we were able to touch a little bit on the free dance. At that point, it was still a bit fresh so we were kind of working through some of the kinks, but he helped a lot.”
“He’s very detail oriented,” Pate added. “He wants to make sure everything looks good. He has a good sense of humor too and is fun to work with.”
Pate and Bye debuted their programs at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International in July, where they won the silver medal, their first international medal together. This season, Pate and Bye will make their Grand Prix debut at Grand Prix de France in November
’“My mom called me and she was like ‘You’re going to France!’ and I’m like ‘that’s crazy!’ I was so excited,” Pate said of her reaction.
The team did compete at Skate America in 2020 when the series was held as domestic events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this will be their first international Grand Prix. Grand Prix de France will be only the second competition out of the United States for Pate and Bye. Their first was last season at Warsaw Cup in Poland. Also, it will only be Pate’s second time out of the country.
Because the team was assigned to a Grand Prix event, they will get the opportunity to participate in their first Champs Camp, which is a performance-based camp for Grand Prix athletes.
While Pate and Bye are excited about their first Grand Prix experience, they are focused on their goals, which is to just improve with each competition.
“For this season, I think it (our goal) is just to skate and do what we can to actually show our stuff,” Bye said.
Like many of their fellow competitors – they do have their sights set on making an Olympic team.
“Our goal is the Olympics and our plan is to compete for the next four years,” Pate said. “Then we’ll re-evaluate and see where life takes us.”