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Thread: Preparing A Gala Routine

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    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Preparing A Gala Routine

    Over the years, I have often wondered about what goes into the preparation of a gala routine.

    Firstly, do the skaters or their teams have any input into the lighting that accompanies their routine?

    I have mentioned a few times on here that I was in my school’s production of “Annie” in 1999 and “Hello Dolly” in 2002. Like all the productions before it, “Annie” was held in the school assembly hall. But, then a theatre opened in my hometown in 2000. And in subsequent years, the school productions were held there.

    Anyway, through this move, I was able to see first hand the amount of work that goes into programming the lighting at a specialist venue compared to doing it manually in a school hall. And this was only for lights pointing at a small stage. Not a massive ice rink.

    With most galas, we just have 4 white spotlights (2 on either side of the rink) which are centred on the skater(s) and follow them around the rink. But other galas are able to put on much more complicated light shows. Some even gear the lighting to the routine, and have just the spotlights for the slow numbers, and all manner of coloured lighting for the more up-tempo numbers.

    But, who is it that designs these lighting routines (for want of a better word)? Do the skaters and their teams design it themselves, and give the programming files to the lighting people at the rink? Or, are the light shows created by the lighting people at the rink?

    The second thing I was wondering about is practicing gala routines. Of course, the competition routines are the most important, and rightly take priority. So, the gala routines probably aren’t practiced as much.

    However, a lot of skaters throw Adagio moves into their gala routines. These moves are riskier and, hence, they are not allowed to be done in competition routines. So, the skaters throw them into gala routines to show the audience just what they are capable of doing. For example, Elladj Baldé frequently puts backflips into his gala routines.

    But, surely this means the skaters would need to practice their gala routines more often, because they are not doing these Adagio moves regularly.

    Anyway, one thing I am curious to know is do the skaters ever practice their gala routines under gala conditions, i.e. in the dark with spotlights pointed at them? Or, do they just practice gala routines in normal lighting conditions?

    For that matter, do they ever do full dress rehearsals for gala routines, with their gala costumes as well as the gala lighting?

    The reason I have decided to bring this up now is because of a particular gala routine we saw this season. In it, the girl was wearing a dress that looked fine under the normal lighting, and fine in that sort-of twilight lighting you get when not directly under the spotlight. But, when she was directly under the spotlight, the dress went completely see-through. And to further compound matters, she wasn’t wearing a bra. Fortunately, she was wearing underwear lower down, so her modesty was at least protected there.

    This skater seemed totally oblivious to the fact that the lighting was having this effect on her dress. Which is what made me think that the gala routine mustn’t have been practiced under the spotlights. Because if it had, somebody from her team would have spotted the problem, and would have told her that she needed to wear something different. Or at least wear more under it.

    I was shocked to find that the second time that we saw this girl in a gala, she was wearing the exact same dress. But, this time, the spotlights were not as intense as they were at the first gala. And there were additional coloured lights pointing at the ice.

    And the result of this different lighting was that the dress was not anywhere near as revealing as it was the previous time we saw it. In fact, it wasn't revealing at all now.

    All of which suggests to me that one of two things had happened which accounted for this different light show:

    1. the team had an input into the lighting that was used during the routine this time around

      or

    2. the organisers had noticed the problem themselves and decided to act on their own accord to save her blushes.


    Either way, the fact that this competition was in the country she was representing was probably the reason for the difference.

    I should add that this skater is into her twenties, so it is not as if she is inexperienced at performing under gala conditions.

    So, can anybody shed some light into the preparations that go into a gala routine?

    (Sorry for that really bad pun. )

    CaroLiza_fan

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    Per aspera ad astra Mango's Avatar
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    I think skaters do practice their routines in gala conditions the day of the gala. Some wear costumes, some do not. I'm not sure about other days...likely they must. Because if you look at a gala program involving props or change of costume (like Muramoto/Reed last season) then those are things that need to be rehearsed ahead of time.

    For more elaborate galas (like NHK Trophy Special EX in Japan) they practice with the lights. Those lights are pretty awesome.

    ETA - Fixed the name and here's an example of the lighting: https://youtu.be/ugxeBjUTPqM

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    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mango View Post
    I think skaters do practice their routines in gala conditions the day of the gala. Some wear costumes, some do not. I'm not sure about other days...likely they must. Because if you look at a gala program involving props or change of costume (like Muramoto/Reed last season) then those are things that need to be rehearsed ahead of time.

    For more elaborate galas (like NHK Trophy Special EX in Japan) they practice with the lights. Those lights are pretty awesome.

    ETA - Fixed the name and here's an example of the lighting: https://youtu.be/ugxeBjUTPqM
    Very good point about programmes involving costume changes and/or props. The skaters would need to do full dress rehearsals regularly for these types of routine.

    And thank you for linking to that Mao Asada video. Boys, but that was a beautiful routine, and it was great to see it again.

    More to the point, that was the sort of less intense spotlight that I was talking about being used in the second performance of the routine I mentioned. Although, it had a totally different character because whereas Mao had additional white light later on, this other routine had additional coloured lights throughout.

    But, it still begs the question - who designed the lighting routine? Mao and her team, or the rink's lighting team.

    CaroLiza_fan

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    Per aspera ad astra Mango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLiza_fan View Post
    Very good point about programmes involving costume changes and/or props. The skaters would need to do full dress rehearsals regularly for these types of routine.

    And thank you for linking to that Mao Asada video. Boys, but that was a beautiful routine, and it was great to see it again.

    More to the point, that was the sort of less intense spotlight that I was talking about being used in the second performance of the routine I mentioned. Although, it had a totally different character because whereas Mao had additional white light later on, this other routine had additional coloured lights throughout.

    But, it still begs the question - who designed the lighting routine? Mao and her team, or the rink's lighting team.

    CaroLiza_fan
    This I can answer. If I remember correctly it was the lighting team. They came up with this concept based on the lone tree that survived the 2011 tsunami. Lori Nichol did the choreography and was on site for it.

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    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mango View Post
    This I can answer. If I remember correctly it was the lighting team. They came up with this concept based on the lone tree that survived the 2011 tsunami. Lori Nichol did the choreography and was on site for it.
    Aha! Thank you.

    So, it was the lighting team that did it for that programme. I have to say, they did a great job. You can tell that they really understood the meaning of the programme, because the lighting really added to the impact the routine had on you.

    But, of course, this was a special routine for this particular event. Would it be the same if it was a "normal" gala routine? Would those skaters get the same sort of attention and thought put in from the rink personnel?

    Sorry to be asking so many questions. I'm just fascinated by what goes into making a gala, and have been gathering them up waiting for an opportunity to ask them.

    CaroLiza_fan

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    Per aspera ad astra Mango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLiza_fan View Post
    Aha! Thank you.

    So, it was the lighting team that did it for that programme. I have to say, they did a great job. You can tell that they really understood the meaning of the programme, because the lighting really added to the impact the routine had on you.

    But, of course, this was a special routine for this particular event. Would it be the same if it was a "normal" gala routine? Would those skaters get the same sort of attention and thought put in from the rink personnel?

    Sorry to be asking so many questions. I'm just fascinated by what goes into making a gala, and have been gathering them up waiting for an opportunity to ask them.

    CaroLiza_fan
    This whole gala had special lighting. It was really something else. I guess lighting also depends on the limitations of the rink's system. Not every place has these fancy lights.

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    avatar credit: @miyan5605 ice coverage's Avatar
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    FWIW:

    Glimpses of rehearsal for the Euros gala are on the Instagram story of @isufigureskating at present.

    Lighting effects can be seen.

    And I recall that lighting effects have been seen in similar glimpses of rehearsals for galas for other comps.

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    Tripping on the Podium
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    I remember a practice for one CS gala where the organizer instructed participants to wear their gala costumes so lighting could be designed.

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    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearly View Post
    I remember a practice for one CS gala where the organizer instructed participants to wear their gala costumes so lighting could be designed.
    Now, that is very enlightening. So, the lighting is indeed designed on-site and is tailored for the routines.

    What about when the skaters are doing their normal training at their home rink, away from events? Do they ever get to practice under gala lighting?

    CaroLiza_fan

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    "Nemesis is...." Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    Most of the time, no. Skaters have their exhibition program and then theres show lighting. They may practice the day of the event under that light w/ or w/o dress rehearsal circumstances.

    Most of the time though, the lighting is designed separate and has little to nothing to do with the programs. Exception would be a big touring production like stars on ice or something like art on ice etc.

    Skaters practice their gala programs on the regular just like SP/LP. Not as much but it does get pretty regular practice run throughs.

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    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ic3Rabbit View Post
    Most of the time, no. Skaters have their exhibition program and then theres show lighting. They may practice the day of the event under that light w/ or w/o dress rehearsal circumstances.

    Most of the time though, the lighting is designed separate and has little to nothing to do with the programs. Exception would be a big touring production like stars on ice or something like art on ice etc.

    Skaters practice their gala programs on the regular just like SP/LP. Not as much but it does get pretty regular practice run throughs.
    Thank you so much Ic3Rabbit. You have pretty much answered everything!

    So, the skaters don't have an input into the lighting that goes with their gala routines. And they don't practice it under gala conditions when training.

    Well, that would certainly explain why the issue I mentioned in the original post happened during the first public performance of that routine.

    So, from what you are saying, it sounds like the lighting team in the country the skater represents were being kind to her for the second performance we saw.

    It'll be interesting to see what happens when we see it performed again in a foreign country. (I'll post an update later in the season).

    You know, it's good to have somebody like you on here who has been there and can talk from personal experience.

    Thank you again



    CaroLiza_fan

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    "Nemesis is...." Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLiza_fan View Post
    Thank you so much Ic3Rabbit. You have pretty much answered everything!

    So, the skaters don't have an input into the lighting that goes with their gala routines. And they don't practice it under gala conditions when training.

    Well, that would certainly explain why the issue I mentioned in the original post happened during the first public performance of that routine.

    So, from what you are saying, it sounds like the lighting team in the country the skater represents were being kind to her for the second performance we saw.

    It'll be interesting to see what happens when we see it performed again in a foreign country. (I'll post an update later in the season).

    You know, it's good to have somebody like you on here who has been there and can talk from personal experience.

    Thank you again



    CaroLiza_fan
    You're welcome. Thank you for saying that it's good to have me here, because most of the time I feel like posters feel the opposite.

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    Medalist Weathergal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ic3Rabbit View Post
    You're welcome. Thank you for saying that it's good to have me here, because most of the time I feel like posters feel the opposite.
    I don't - I enjoy your posts and find you very knowledgeable!

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    "Nemesis is...." Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weathergal View Post
    I don't - I enjoy your posts and find you very knowledgeable!
    Thank you!

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    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    OK, so I promised an update on the skater I was talking about in the Original Post come the end of the season. So here it is.

    First, time for a recap.

    At the first competition where this skater appeared in the gala, her dress was fine under normal or twilight lighting, but went completely see-through when under the spotlights.

    The second competition we saw her at was in the country she represented, and she wore the same dress for the gala. But because the spotlights were less intense and there were additional small coloured lights pointed at the rink, the dress didn't go see-through.

    Now for the update.

    The third competition we saw her at was also in the country she represented, and she again wore the same dress in the gala. As at the previous gala, the spotlights were less intense, and there were additional lights pointed at the rink. This time, though, the additional lights were white lights. But this made no difference – the dress didn't go see-through this time either.

    At the fourth and fifth competitions we saw this skater at, she did not appear in the gala. And this was despite there being multiple skaters that she beat taking part in these galas. (Admittedly, her finishing position at one of these competitions was borderline for being invited to the gala. But, at the other competition, she definitely finished high enough to be invited to the gala).

    I reckon this was a direct result of the Papadakis incident in Pyeongchang. The ISU didn't want to risk attracting any more unsavoury attention to the sport, so they decided that the safest thing would be to not invite this skater (or, more specifically, her dress) to the Gala at the Olympics and Worlds.

    Understandable, but not fair on the poor skater in question. I felt so sorry for her.

    Of course, for all we know she may actually have been invited to these galas, and opted to turn them down. But, considering these were the 2 biggest competitions of the season, and there were no known injuries, I doubt this was the case.

    Whatever happened, it meant that we didn't get to find out if the changes in lighting for the second and third appearances were just because these particular galas were being held in the country she represents.

    Oh well.

    CaroLiza_fan

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