Every time Logan Learned has tried ice skating, he’s wound up on his tush. The last time Kate Honea laced up her ice skates, she was 9 years old and failed miserably, eventually landing in the same cheek-to-ice position.
It’s probably a good thing, then, that the two Sarasota Ballet dancers have stuck to ice skating only in their ballet shoes — sans ice, of course.
Learned and Honea last performed in 2008 as the Blue Boy and the Blue Girl in Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Les Patineurs.” They’ll take the stage again in the same roles during the Sarasota Ballet’s “Parks to Prairies” show Dec. 9 and Dec. 10, at the Sarasota Opera House.
“Making it look like we’re gliding is more different than you think,” Honea says. “We hop-slide, do a lot of jumps en pointe and make our body angle lean forward, so it looks like we’re pushing off. When we watched the DVD of last time and put it on fast forward, it really does look like we’re ice skating.”
According to Honea, Ashton choreographed the ballet in a way so that the dancers are leaning and using their bodies at all times. Although they appear to be skating when traveling across the stage, they are actually sliding and skidding across the floor, which is not the usual tacky marley flooring.
“With the floor cloth that is painted to look like an ice-skating rink, it’s a different texture we’re not used to,” Honea says. “With turns, we have to add more force, because it kind of catches you. Both Logan and I had holes in our shoes, and my pointe shoes were worn down to a layer I’d never seen.”
Set in the 1930s, the ballet features scenes commonly found in an ice rink during the holiday season — a romantic hand-in-hand couple skating; beginners clinging onto their surroundings to avoid falling; and the Blue Boy whizzing by in an Edwardian-trimmed fur ensemble while completing his dare-devilish spins.
“I’m a good faller-on-the-butt type of skater,” Learned says. “But ballet is the main form of skating I should do.”
Sarasota Ballet Assistant Artistic Director Margaret Barbieri on 'Les Patineurs'
“It is often performed at Christmas as a special Christmas treat. It's all about skating and snow and what people used to do — and still do — at Christmas-time. It's set in this Victorian Christmas party in the park, in the middle of London. Certainly in Florida, the ice-skating doesn't resonate. Nevertheless, in England, very much so. Even today in London, they put up this ice rink in the center of London, and everyone goes ice skating.”
Q&A with Logan Learned and Kate Honea
If you weren’t ice skating in this ballet, would it still be fun?
Honea: If there weren’t any skating, we’d just be thinking about the steps and how hard they are. I don’t think we’d enjoy it as much.
Learned: It’s almost as if we fool ourselves into thinking, “Oh, it’s not that hard, we’re just skating.” But it’d be a daunting amount of work — almost like DUN, DUN, DUN! — if there was no skating.
What makes this ballet fun for the audience?
Honea: Logan does things you would never normally see him do on stage. He goes upside down. Not many people can do that. It’s something the audience gets shocked by.
Learned: It’s something I get shocked by!
Honea: In a normal ballet, we would walk on stage and prepare. Whenever we walk on or off stage, you’ll always see us skating. Sometimes, we joke around and speed skate on the side. We try to be Apolo Anton Ohno.
How difficult is it to perform skating ballet movements?
Honea: Especially for the Blue Boy and the Blue Girl, it’s so technically hard, that as you’re doing it, you feel a sense of accomplishment.
Learned: You think, “Wow, I just performed a really tiring, taxing ballet,” but there’s a sense of happiness because you’re making it look easy. Knowing you’re doing something so difficult makes you enjoy it.
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- And Ian Webb announced at the end of the performance Friday that starting in January Logan has been promoted to a Principal Dancer Position. Congratulations to him. He's earned it.
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