John Curry Skating Co.: drama on (and off) the ice; Thompson Twins
There are two stories to the visit of the John Curry Skating Company here last week. The first is the heroic behind-the-scenes effort that went into getting the show up after the opening-night power blackout threatened to turn the Wang Center into a seven-ton lake.
The unsung heroes in this story are Walter Pierce and Kathy Rochefort of the Wang Celebrity Series, the stagehands, and various other friends in the city.
The power outage (from a manhole fire) struck at 3:30 p.m., and the power company could not predict when it would return. Faced with the prospect of no opening night and a sea of water, Mr. Pierce arranged for a 500-kilowatt generator from the Rent-a-Tool Company in Revere. The owner of the generator wanted the electricians to come up and see how it operated, so they set off by car only to return 45 minutes later, stymied by traffic. It was 5:30 p.m.
Kathy Roche-fort got on the phone: WBZ-TV, Channel 4, one of the show's sponsors, offered to fly the electricians to Revere by helicopter; the Tufts Medical Center OK'ed use of its helipad; the WCVB (Channel 5) news truck volunteered to drive the electricians to the helipad. At Rent-a-Tool, the electricians spent 15 minutes learning how to run the generator and returned by helicopter.
State policemen escorted the generator to the Tobin Bridge, where Boston police took it the rest of the way. By 7:20, the generator was hooked up and the ice hardening. (Meanwhile, the skaters were putting on their makeup downstairs by the light of kerosene lanterns and flashlights.)
By 9, the stagehands (who had been up around the clock with only meal breaks since Monday morning and would remain up until after Friday night's performance) were sweeping up puddles of water left on the 8,000-square-foot rink.
At 9:40, the show, which had threatened not to go on at all, went up. That it did so is a remarkable testimony to the cooperation and hard work of many friends.
The second story is the show itself.
With this company, Curry is trying to establish what amounts to a new art form: skating for purely aesthetic purposes.
He is succeeding. The performances - here, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington - have not only proved a spectacular success, but also opened a whole new realm of artistic endeavor to skaters, dance choreographers, and theater technicians.
From the very start of Friday evening's program, one was struck by the long, clean lines of dance on skates - and of its infinite possibilities.
To the trumpet flourishes of Handel's ''Royal Fireworks Music,'' the skaters came on, one by one, making broad, arcing sweeps across the ice, clad in white body suits splattered with graffiti-bright pinks, blues, and oranges. During each of the fanfares, they would loft - in pairs and trios - into effortless and dramatic triple spins, landing with emphatic ''swishes'' as skates scratched ice. The flurry of white spray created by the landings and quick stops added a unique touch to the evening. Throw in the marvelous spread of lights by renowned designer Jennifer Tipton and the effect is a moving masterpiece - colors and skaters flowing in and out of sight, leaping, twirling, and whirling - all with a fluidity that is unattainable in ordinary dance.
Likewise, there is a diversity in types and styles of movement that's beyond the ordinary - from the eerie lyricism of Curry's solo ''Moon Skate'' and the farcical romance of the duet ''Tango-Tango'' to the typical overdramatic story ballet ''La Valse'' (the Ravel score). The choreographers themselves range from modern's Twyla Tharp and Lar Lubovitch to ballet's Eliot Feld and Peter Martins.
Another remarkable thing about the performance was its capacity for simplicity. Unlike a dancer, a skater can entertain by just gliding across the stage holding a certain position, an arabesque, say. This was amply demonstrated in ''Trio,'' as Patricia Dodd skated gently forward, suspended in a dovelike position. You could feel the audience hold its breath.
By the time the skaters reached the final number, ''William Tell,'' audience members were on the edge of their seats. What they got - a thrilling series of dashing leaps, flying sit-spins, and interlaced ensemble work, finishing with the entire 17-member company spinning like tops - put them on their feet for a long, and well-deserved, standing ovation. (Full-length articles on the John Curry Skating Company and icemaking techniques will appear in the Arts & Leisure section in coming weeks.)
- Catherine Foster and David Wilck
It seemed a quaint gesture.
Some of the people at the Concerts on the Common brought bouquets to the edge of the stage for Berlin, the powerhouse opening band for the Thompson Twins. What with all the musical debris and mayhem falling all over Berlin's spook-house show, it was a bit like wearing a sun bonnet to a gang war.
But the gesture was an omen of things to come.
Because the Thompson Twins (who are not twins, by the way, but three very unidentical performers - one black, one white with flaming red hair, and one female) represent nothing so much as the marriage of power drives and the full flower of fashion rock. From the moment the lead singer made his entrance through a trap door that belched yellow smoke until the final blaze of laser lights and superamplified sound waves, this concert looked like a riot catered by Saks Fifth Avenue and Tech Hi-Fi.
Which is not to put the Twins down completely. Their music energizes everyone and everything in sight.
But at one point I found myself muttering under all the megadecibels, ''Is this disco, or what?'' - if only because the ever-flowing sound energy, figured upon ornate rhythms, seemed as manufactured and smooth as the creamiest Velveeta cheese.
- Christopher Swan