It was figure skating’s time in the spotlight.
AdventHealth Center Ice — known widely for its hockey teams and tournaments — hosted an entirely different kind of event, when more than 500 performers laced up their skates for the U.S. Figure Skating 2022 National Showcase.
The competition ran from Aug. 1 to Aug. 6.
The performers donned impressive costumes and used various props to perform to memorable songs, to demonstrate their impressive skills.
“We do have a lot of hockey events, so it was really nice for figure skating to take over the rink for a whole week,” said Jenna Dispenza, who, with her husband, Vinny, are the skating directors at Center Ice. “Hockey is great — Go Lightning! — but it’s nice for figure skating to get its turn here to shine.
“And it’s pretty incredible,” she added. “(The showcase) is the biggest national-type of competition U.S. Figure Skating hosts. Plus, the elite level of the theatrical side is just a huge bonus, because it’s comparable to Broadway (shows).
“Once the showcases get going, it’s really ‘Lights, camera, action!’”
Skaters flooded the common areas and halls of Center Ice, wearing elaborate costumes and makeup. They worked with props to come up with theatrical performance showcases, fusing figure skating with artistic creativity.
Showcase events were open to single skaters, duets, small ensembles and production numbers.
Skaters performed in the categories such as Emotional Performance, Choreographic Artistry, Lyrical Pop, Character Performance, Comedic Impressions and Interpretive.
“The incredible entertainment this event, its skaters are bringing is so different in our sport where it’s not just the technical part,” Dispenza said. “It’s not just jumps and spins — it’s the costumes, the props, the music, the theatrical side of skating, some of which you don’t typically see.”
Dispenza said the community came out in large numbers, not just to see the showcases, but also to volunteer.
“A lot of people really wanted to see a different side of skating,” Dispenza added.
“And they weren’t disappointed. They saw some incredible showcases.”
The Dispenzas also coach Champion’s Edge, the figure skating club at Center Ice. The club was well represented in the National Showcase, with the skaters performing their own showcases, as well as a team performance.
The team — featuring eight girls, ages 11 to 16 — offered their take on Florida by transforming themselves into “The Beach Girls” for the performance on Aug. 6.
“It’s incredible to get a big group of skaters like that working toward one big showcase,” Dispenza said. “We have local skaters who want to get out there and just take complete advantage of this opportunity to put on a showcase here.”
Jessica Romonosky, a 14-year-old Land O’ Lakes resident with Champion’s Edge, was proud of the way Center Ice hosted the event.
“This is the biggest thing to ever happen (to figure skating) at the rink,” Romonosky said. “It’s really great to see how our rink is being fully represented with such a huge event. It’s so awesome to be a part of this entire showcase.”
Fellow Land O’ Lakes resident Mackenzie Toews, 11, said she wasn’t used to so many additional figure skaters beyond her Champion’s Edge club.
“But it was so cool and awesome to see everyone’s different routine and what they ended up doing for a performance,” she added.
That was the whole point: figure skaters had a whole week to spotlight their talents.
Just like Olivia Bosley, a 13-year-old Dade City resident, who performed her showcase to ‘When I Am Older,’ a song sung by Olaf (Josh Gad) in ‘Frozen 2.’
“I’m really proud of my work, considering it’s at a national showcase,” Bosley said. The event, she said, “is pretty exciting because you get to see what everyone else comes up with and puts together in different categories. I think we’re all excited to perform, but we’re also very excited to watch other performances, too.”
Published August 10, 2022
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