New Program Debuts from Dreams on Ice

Mai Mihara and Marin Honda among Japanese skaters who perform a competitive program in front of the audience for the first time in Shinyokohama.

Last weekend Team Japan held their annual Dreams on Ice show in Shinyokohama, in which a number of skaters debuted what will be their competitive programs next season, mixed in with show numbers both old and new, and from both Japanese and foreign skaters. Afterward someone posted a list of all the new programs, and someone else translated it. All together audiences were treated to three short programs and five longs, although one of the former was Shoma Uno’s, which he debuted at Fantasy on Ice a month ago.

Then Japanese TV aired the show, and the footage hit the internet. Not all the performances were televised, and the long program of young junior Mitsuki Sumoto wasn’t. But the other six new competitive programs all were:

Mai Mihara, SP

“Libertango” Astor Piazzolla

Mihara needs more sophistication than she quite had last season to pull this off, but from this first performance, it looks like that’s on its way. The music cut is weird at the beginning and end, but the choreography corresponds well to it. Since Marin Honda did her free skate instead, we can’t compare those two tango programs yet.

Keiji Tanaka, SP

“The Prophet,” Gary Moore

This is clearly designed to make him look much older than he did last season. And to a great extent it succeeds; he’s ready for it stylewise. But even putting aside the two bad jumping passes here, he doesn’t always keep that up during the spins either. He’ll need to work on that.

Marin Honda, LP

“Violin Fantasy on Puccin’s Turandot” Vanessa Mae/”Nessum Dorma” Sarah Brightman

(Copyblocked on YouTube, available on Dailymotion)

A lot of fans are finding this to be very reminiscent to when Yu-Na Kim skated a show program to Turandot in 2014. That’s a dangerous person for Honda to let herself be compared to; she’s not at *that* level of divine just yet. On the other hand,  she is on a level where she can sell this program and make you enjoy it anyway.

Kaori Sakamoto, LP

“Le Fableux destin d’Amerlie Poulain” Yann Tiersen

The wave at the audience is a highlight, especially because she sold it a lot more than the rest of the program’s cheeky bits. Someone needs to tell her that comic programs require a little comic skating, not just skating solemnly and gracefully while making comic gestures.

Sumire Suto & Francois Boudreau-Audet, LP

Beatles medley

Programs with Beatles songs, original or other versions, are always nice to have, and this one has a couple of good choreographic moments. But I feel like this program and especially this music medley needs the skaters to have more in them to fill it than Sumire & Boudreau-Audet are projecting so far.

Kazuki Tomono, LP

“West Side Story” Leonard Bernstein

In the right hands, this program could really get a crowd going. Here, Tomono was good enough to kind of get the crowd going in the first half. Though reigning Junior National champion, he’s not the strongest Japanese man ever, but he’s not without some showman skills that he could definitely develop further.

This wasn’t the first Japanese ice show where we see new program debuts, and probably won’t be the last. Japan has a lot of ice shows.

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