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Shining Starz: New Adult Theatre on Ice Team Wins Silver in Hyannis
by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz, special to U.S. Figure Skating

The Houston Starz Theatre on Ice Adult Team is proud of the silver medal they won at the Theatre on Ice National Competition in June. They received rave reviews and high scores for their elegant "art gallery on ice," a pretty exciting accomplishment for this nine member team that's only been together since September 2014.

"I had thought about it for a few years," said team co-captain Shannon Keeler. "Our club had been very successful with our junior team and I have always loved the costumes and concepts associated with theatrical skating. I have won interpretive events at [the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships] and felt very strongly about my ability to transfer that over to a team. I talked with Tammy Janoschak who is the coach of our junior team and she gave me the encouragement to pursue it."

The team began with just six members and had three more join in March, just before the deadline. The team went to work to put together two programs for national competition, a CE or choreographic exercise and the free skate.

According to Keeler, the CE was collaboration with teammate Valentina Salge, who is also the team's co-captain.

"The free skate idea of paintings coming to life just came to me one day. I never stopped thinking about it until the competition was over. We lost a lot of sleep but in an exciting way. It really took development once the paintings were chosen, the costumes were designed and the music was selected. Everything pretty much happened starting in April when I got a full commitment of nine skaters. So from April to June, I didn't sleep much."

Team members were ecstatic with their second place finish, and each credited dedication and camaraderie as part of their success in Hyannis.

"I love being on this team because I love the people on our team," said Kristy Felker. "The people are fabulous and have great energy. We're a bunch of optimists."

Team member Jeannie Foland enjoyed all of the special friends she has made.

"Each member of our team has different strengths and talents that fit together beautifully," Foland said. "Our co-captain Shannon Keeler did an amazing job developing our theme and yet was open to each of our ideas. Together we were able to bring Shannon's concept to life and embellish it with each member's ideas and strengths. To me, theater on ice is a great opportunity to share our love for skating with each other and other adult skaters from around the country."

Keeler credits coach Tammy Janoschak for attending all their practices in Hyannis and putting the team on the ice. She is also grateful for their great club support. Amazingly, the first time the team performed their free skate with props, scenery and costumes was at official practice just two hours before their competition time.

"The practice was not so great," Keeler said. "We all skated well but we had some costume snafus and some prop issues."

Vinyl panels of the artwork were sagging due to the torrential rains and humidity caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill that had blown through Hyannis the morning of th event.

Seeing all the props begin to fall and not stick to the heavy duty Velcro was disheartening. The team tried adding more Velcro but nothing would stick to the buildup.

"But with a lot of prayers and duct tape and finding a solution to the costumes, it all came off without a hitch," Keeler said.

"I enjoyed the chance to be part of a production again," said team member Paula Moore. "Having always loved theater and performance, our program gave me a chance to mesh that with my love of skating. I could participate in a way that is unique and different. The performance was about the combined energies and passion of our team. That is a special feeling." 

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