Belbin and Agosto Create a New Free Dance to "Amelie"

by Laura Fawcett
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto in their "That's Entertainment" free dance
Photo by Guang Niu, Getty Images Sport

(1/17/07) - Three-time U.S. champions Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto announced Wednesday that they have scrapped their free dance to “That's Entertainment” and will debut a new free dance at the 2007 State Farm U.S. Championships to the soundtrack from “Amelie.” The team made the announcement during a pre-championships media teleconference.

After an exhausting Olympic season and summer touring schedule, Belbin and Agosto were looking for a free dance that was fun and light-hearted – something that could represent their love of performing.

“We are looking for something that we connect with and enjoy skating to,” Belbin said before they debuted the free dance at Cup of China. “Obviously that will be the music that we grew up with, that we hear on the radio, that we like to move to.”

However, the program didn't resonate with fans and judges. At Cup of China, Belbin and Agosto lost to Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, who were only seventh at the 2006 World Championships. They beat Domnina and Shabalin at Cup of Russia but still finished second in the free dance.

Both Belbin and Agosto quickly realized a change was in order.

“We had trouble with our free dance to the music of ‘That's Entertainment,'” Belbin said Wednesday. “We really felt in the beginning that it was a great concept and that we really could do something new and different with it. For the first time ever in our careers it didn't work out the way that we thought it would, or hoped it would. Oftentimes we find a key to our programs and direction that we want to take it, and this time we just couldn't find the key to making this program work. Ben and I decided that if we didn't feel emotionally invested in this program or proud of it that we needed to step it up and do something better.”

They started from scratch to create the new “Amelie” program. The music, composed by Yann Tiersen, is from the 2001 French movie of the same name about a young woman who finds ingenious ways to help other people.

“It's much more lyrical,” Belbin said. “It's an entirely different style from what Ben and I typically skate to. It's much more dramatic and emotional. We've created all new lifts and elements and footwork, and we haven't repeated a single element from any of our past programs … Hopefully it will be better received than the last one on the international scene.”

The team withdrew from the Grand Prix Final due to a back injury to Agosto, which kept him from doing any lifts for about a week. He's healed now, and the time off between recovery and the U.S. Championships gave them ample time to create a new program. After the debut in Spokane, Belbin said they plan to get the new program in front of international judges at the 2007 Four Continents Championships, Feb. 7-10, in Colorado Springs, Colo.