Expect a cutting-edge and evocative free skate program from Nexxice on Saturday
It’s challenging in skating skills, bold in theme, collaborative in design and emotional in impact.
When Nexxice looks for another podium finish at the World Synchronized Skating Championships at the FirstOntario Center this weekend, the Burlington-Hamilton team’s primary vehicle will be Saturday’s free skate, in which they perform the tribute Jeremy Dutcher’s musical to the Wolostoq speakers of his Tobique First Nation.
As the world’s long-time synchronized rhythm pioneer, Nexxice has a reputation for delivering state-of-the-art free skates that elicit passion and emotion in audiences. And “Mehcinut” is definitely evocative, with the 16-member crew depicting a group of four spiritual “sisters” skating through life’s road signs and ending in what may or may not be the main character’s death. This is left to the imagination and to the heart of the beholder.
“We look at history through this family,” says Brian Solomon, Nexxice’s free show lead choreographer who also choreographed Dutcher’s much-loved Mehcinut music video. “We don’t know if she dies, or if it’s maybe a dream, much like in life. She doesn’t necessarily die in the end, she can just fall asleep or wake up.
“But the feeling of music and skating should be to see a full life go by.”
Solomon, raised in the remote Shebahonaning region of northern Ontario, is Anishinaabe on his father’s side, Irish-Canadian on his mother’s side. A multi-genre artist, dancer, actor and choreographer, he and his work have toured nationally and internationally and he has won several major theater and dance awards.
This is his first time working with skaters and the Mehcinut will see on Saturday is the result of a collaborative creative effort by Solomon, Nexxice choreographer Anne Schelter and coaches Shelley Simonton Barnett and Jennifer Beauchamp. The 16 members of the team, as well as the reserves, also have the right to express themselves.
“Nexxice has such a wealth of knowledge, and they are encouraged to be thinkers,” Solomon says. “Choreographing them is a real treat and it’s exciting. I learned a lot from them. »
It’s a two-way street, according to the Nexxice head coach.
“It’s been a rewarding journey with Brian,” says Simonton Barnett, who coached Nexxice to two world titles, three second-place finishes, three bronze medals and a record 11 national championships. “He knows the world of dance so well that we learned a lot from him. We learned a lot about performance and the difficulties that indigenous peoples faced in colonialism and cultural appropriation.
Solomon explains that in the music video and the skating program, he tried to follow where the music is coming from, “which is Jeremy’s people”. Dutcher’s small group of Wolastogiyik is down to about a hundred speakers of their original language and Dutcher managed to find a wax recording of Mehcinut, which he digitized and took to his elders for an explanation. content before interpreting it.
“And it’s a death song,” Solomon said. “These are people who sing to prepare to die… which is not a sad thing. It’s like we’re all working to live a good life and be proud to die. This is the difference between Western civilization and other civilizations.
The four-minute skating program uses dramatic lifts, full lines of all 16 skaters, creative groups of four, and a demanding combination of pirouettes, intersections, and small jumps to illustrate a vision of what can be a time valid on earth.
“So there are people working together, there is hunting, traveling. You see them in boats, there are dances that look like classical dance. You see the laughter and the sorrow. I don’t think you need to get all of these or even any of these things. It’s an abstract work: whatever feeling you get when looking at it, as long as you feel something, it’s the right thing.
Although this is his first venture into synchronized skating, Solomon doesn’t think it will be his last. He loves the medium, the flow of edges and sees in it a wealth of untapped possibilities.
“The real potential of these forms is the groups,” he says, “solos and duets are very exciting but where dance comes from all over the planet is group dancing. Social dancing is dance history and that’s what happens in sync. You really To feel something when 16 people do everything together.
World Synchronized Skating Championships
Or whenFirstOntario Centre, Friday (short program) 6 p.m. Saturday (free program) 1 p.m.
TicketsFriday $50 and $100, obstructed view $70; Saturday $60 and $120, clogged $80. At Ticketmaster.ca
BroadcastLive broadcast on CBC Sports and the ISU Skating YouTube channel
Top TeamsFive-time world champion Marigold Ice Unity of Finland, Helsinki Rockettes, third in 2019, two-time world champion and 11-time Canadian champion Nexxice of Hamilton-Burlington, reigning Canadian titlists Les Suprêmes, The Haydenettes of the United States and Team Inspire of Sweden .
Other countries representedAustralia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.
FactoidReigning world champions Team Paradise and current third team Crystal Ice are banned from this competition due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But this invasion also ensured that these Worlds would take place in Hamilton. Just a few weeks ago, the International Skating Union decided to move the event due to Canada’s vaccination requirements at the time, but the war in Ukraine meant that a new venue could not be found quickly enough.