The Improv-Ice live show taping is quickly approaching, and we thought it only made sense to find out from Creative Director and Choreographer, Lea Ann Miller, her thoughts on this unique and fun show that features the band Styx. The live show is set for Thursday, December 15, 2011, at 7:30 p.m., at the BI-LO Center in Greenville, SC, and tickets are still on sale. NBC will broadcast the show nationally as part of the Pandora NBC Skating Series on Sunday, January 15, 2012.
1) Since the skaters receive their music the day of the show, how do you prepare for a show as spontaneous as this?
The fun is seeing how each skater is able to take their repertoire and adjust to the music. They all panic at first and then do so much better than they thought they could do. I love seeing the skaters that say, “Oh, I can’t choreograph,” come up with such great programs. Focus has to be there. If a skater panics and stops listening to the music, they can lose it pretty fast. The best advice I can give the skaters is to keep a good sense of humor about the concept and smile…it helps you to relax!
2) How do you choose the music for each skater?
I told the cast that their first number will be from iTunes Top 50. The second number will be a Styx song. The skaters know all of the song titles, just not which one I will pick for them!
3) Do you have time to choreograph the opening and closing numbers of the show?
The opening of the show is a “competition-style” warm-up. Styx will play as the skaters warm-up their jumps like a real competition! I will help to choreograph the finale but with so little time, it is all about being organized and giving each skater what I call a “step-out.”
4) Does the music act (Styx for Improv-Ice) choose the music?
I worked with Styx to choose the best songs for skating and the cast of the Improv-Ice show. We needed songs that suited men and women, as well as a nice pace of both fast and slow songs.
5) Lighting must be a challenge with this show no matter what since the numbers are improvised. I know you are handling the lighting with Mike Hall in the absence of David Finley. Any special plans for lighting the Improv-Ice show?
What is going to be amazing about Improv-Ice is that the Lighting Director of Styx used to work on skating shows, such as touring with Stars on Ice and years ago even worked on some of Disson Skating’s shows! Libby Gray will light the band on stage and will work closely with Mike Hall, who will light the ice! Just another tribute to David with his friends all coming together to make the shows have his touch even though he is not with us. It has been an emotional season, for sure.
6) Why do a show with improv?
You would think as a choreographer that I would not like the idea of skaters improvising instead of doing set choreography, but I look at this show as a confirmation of what I have taught the skaters over the years…and just maybe they will appreciate me more after having to do it themselves!