The Next Ice Age marked its 25th Anniversary on Friday, April 11th and Saturday, April 12th in Maryland. As I look back on the event which was two years in the making, I could not be more pleased.
Our newly elected President, Eric Price, served as the Event Chair overseeing the entire weekend and working closely with co-cairs Amy McPartland, who ran the Friday night reception, and Donna Timlen, who directed our volunteer staff at the rink on Saturday. Most heartwarming was the high level of cooperation everyone involved exhibited for the entire two year period. Company Manager, Lynn Hampton, truly set a tone of calm leading up to the big weekend and we are grateful to her for her ability to both lead and listen.
At the elegant Hotel Monaco in downtown Baltimore, guests were greeted by the current Resident Skating Company all dressed in smart Next Ice Age jackets and tasteful black skirts. As the patrons moved toward the the registration table they were welcomed by Karen and Brian Alstadt. Karen and Brian not only are responsible for our website and our contact, but also NIA New England!
After registering, attendees walked down the grand hall for refreshments as they viewed a video loop of performances and rehearsals from the past quarter century. Meanwhile a pre-reception for VIPs, Sponsors, and the Board of Directors was taking place. Personal interviews and private photo opportunities were a hit. At 7:00 pm the doors opened and the glamorous Paris Ballroom filled to capacity.
Special Guests Tenley Albright, Brian Boitano, Kimmie Meissner, JoJo Starbuck, Michael Weiss, and Paul Wylie mingled with present and former Company Members while enjoying delicious passed hors d’oeuvres including one from What Would Brian Boitano Make? – crab and avocado crostini.
Emcee Michael Weiss spoke about taking Skating Class as a young boy from Tim and what that meant to him.Then Brian Boitano took the mic and expounded on how fortunate the young Resident Company has NIA as an additional outlet to a conventional skating education. After Brian, Keynote Speaker JoJo Starbuck recapped her history with us dating back to the 70’s when she skated in Boston with Ice Chips, into the 80’s when we all were in John Curry’s Company, and of course into the 90’s with NIA to the present day. Then Tim and I presented gifts to our Honorees Michael James from the Carousel in Ocean City, MD, long time Officers Linda and Bob Brenegan, and accepting for Lisa Webster, Paul Wylie, for Lisa’s generous and immeasurable support.
No one can light up a room like Tenley Albright! As children growing up at the Skating Club of Boston we got to skate with her and by doing so learned so much about navigating through a crowded ice rink. What an honor it was some 40 years later to have her grace our celebration by her presence.
The evening concluded when her daughter (and our good friend) Elin presented us with a surprise…flowers for us sent from my Aunt and Uncle, Julia and Ray Normand! Tim and I were able to share them as parting momentos to each of the beautiful ladies as they left the reception.
Photos courtesy Kim Zaruba
On Saturday, a shuttle departed the hotel bound for the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, MD. Patrons were directed upstairs to a scrumptious light fare buffet and to view our Costume Exhibit in the Dance Studio, expertly displayed by Alicia Jackson and Shawn Herne. Each of the designers we have worked with over the years was beautifully represented.
Meanwhile the skaters participating in Class were shown to their dressing rooms and then to their seating area where they were joined by the patrons from upstairs. As the audience assembled, JoJo prepared her opening words of welcome, reenacting her debut role from our 1988 Premiere Performance as guest announcer. The moment was perfect to introduce the original cast, Pamela Gregory, Martha Muth, Tim, and myself , as we skated the first movement of the first dance we ever performed from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and kicking off the afternoon.
Next a demonstration of our Class Curriculum, “The Next Ice Edge,” was presented as I spoke to the audience about the technique of the exercises they were watching. This was followed by “A Class Piece,” set to Glazunov’s, “The Seasons,” which paid homage to John Curry. After this octet, Tim previewed his new trio, “Short Ride on a Fast Machine,” set to music by John Adams. Explosive and exciting, it served as the ideal counterpoint to the adagio that had proceeded it.
We hold the same high standard with our young resident company as we have with all of the professional skaters we have been privileged to work with for over 3 decades. Most gratifying was hearing comments made by former company members about the polish of our up and coming performers. It is these compliments made by pros like Jared Hoadly, Shellane Mellor Pasquale, Scott O’Neal, Jeff Merica, Andrew Naylor,Julie Patterson, Patrick Brault, Scott Driscoll, and many others, all who travelled from far and wide to be there, which were the most meaningful!
After the performance and while the ice was being resurfaced, close to 150 skaters lined the hallway leading to the Zamboni gate. The largest Skating Class in history ensued as groups of 4 took the ice to execute prescribed exercises from our website (see them here). At the end of the rink each group exited, got back in line, walked down the hallway, and regenerated from the entrance gate. Dance Critic, George Jackson, writes glowingly about this Grande Defile in his April 14, 2014 Dance View Times review.
Seeing former students skating with current students, Professionals with Amateurs, moved Tim and I to tears 30 seconds into the Class. We had never directed that many at once and on the fly like that. At that moment I couldn’t help but think back to the Summer of 1988 when we envisioned The Next Ice Age. These 25 years have been better than our original dream!