Return To Me: Skating and Songs

lostpairs02RET10Besides food, the Accidental Locavore is also passionate about skating!  In the upcoming Musselman’s Apple Sauce Family Skating Tribute Show (airing November 23rd and again on December7th from 4-6 PM EST on ABC), Katia Gordeeva, her daughter Liza and husband Ilia Kulik, skate to a wonderful piece of music, Return to Me, by the group October ProjectThis year, for the first time, all Olympic-eligible skaters can now skate to music with lyrics, so doesn’t it make you curious as to how, among all the great songs, spanning centuries, this piece got chosen, and how skaters choose their music?

_Katia.Beauty.0246 1Let’s take a look, courtesy of some “insider information” I, as a skater and friend of the October Project, was fortunate to be a part of. It will tell you how Return to Me was chosen (but not why for this season of amateur competition, it seems like every Japanese competitor is skating to Phantom of the Opera…).

First, we need to start with a little of Katia Gordeeva’s back-story. She and her partner, Sergei Grinkov, known as Gordeeva and Grinkov, were possibly the most famous Russian pairs skaters (and there have been lots of them!).  Together they won two Olympic gold medals and a slew of World Championships. Tragically, he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 28 and she went on to have a career as a solo skater. She married Ilia Kulik (also an Olympic gold medalist) and they have a daughter, Liza.

October ProjectWorking with Katia & Ilia, Steve Disson, the executive producer of the Family Tribute Show, had an inspiration: what about Return to Me? Written by lyricist Julie Flanders and composer Emil Adler, who along with lead singer Marina Belica are October Project, it’s a song with a rich history of its own that also marked an important moment in Steve’s life. Eleven years ago he had asked long-time friend Marina to sing it at his wedding and, now, thought the mood and lyrics would be a great match for the style and story of these skaters.

But it’s not quite so easy as that. It’s one thing for the producer to suggest a piece of music. More importantly, the skaters have to agree (and that means they have to like it a lot, since they’ll be skating to it for weeks at a time), their coaches have to think it will play to their strengths as skaters, the choreographer has to make it work for them and the audience, there are costumes to think of, and oh yes, it has to be edited to fit the time constraints.

_Katia.Liza.In Motion.0245Somehow, with Return to Me, everything fell into place. Grab yourself a mug of hot chocolate, and a cozy seat and get ready to enjoy not only Katia, Liza and Ilia, but Amy Grant singing live to a cast that includes Kurt Browning (one of my personal favorites — watch his feet!), Todd Eldridge, Nancy Kerrigan, Paul Wylie and more—all with their families. It’s on ABC November 23rd and if you miss that (but set your DVR so you don’t) again on December 7th at 4:00 PM EST. Enjoy!


The painting, Lost Pairs I by Robert Wright was inspired by Gordeeva and Grinkov. ©Robert Wright 2014, used with permission of the artist. The skating photos are courtesy of Marina Belica and the photo of October Project is ©Steven Lowy 2014. If you’d like to download Return to Mejust click on the link.


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