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Secret's out: Virtue, Moir disclose program music

Olympic champions to jazz it up in short, go classical route in free

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are gunning for a second straight Olympic title.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are gunning for a second straight Olympic title. (Klaus-Reinhold Kany)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany and Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(08/05/2013) - Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are getting an early start this season.

Canada's Olympic champions will compete their short dance, set to quickstep and foxtrot rhythms, at the Quebec Summer Championships in Boisbriand, just north of Montreal, on Aug. 10.

"We want to show we are ready and to get the judges' first reaction," said Marina Zoueva, who coaches the team in Canton, Mich.

Unveiling their short dance before judging and technical panels in August gives the couple plenty of time to review the levels assigned to their elements, particularly this season's pattern dance, the Finnstep. To achieve the best results, skaters must hit several key points in each section of the dance.

The program features selections from Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, kicking off with "Dream a Little Dream."

"The second part is 'Muskrat Ramble,' which has a jazzy sound," Moir said. "The third piece is the well-known 'Dancing Cheek to Cheek.' We worked with (French-Canadian ballroom dance champion) Jean-Marc Généreux, who we first met 10 years ago."

Zoueva's concept is ballroom but wth a twist.

"Tessa and Scott are taking a more jazzy [approach] to the quickstep and foxtrot," she said. "They are born dancers. This style of music is good for the way they play off of each other and use their bodies."

Choreography and music for Virtue and Moir -- and that of their training partners and rivals, U.S. world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White -- has been kept top secret. In Canton's Arctic Edge Arena, curtains were installed in front of the rink's windows, so onlookers in the lobby could not watch practices. At times, skaters wore Bluetooth wireless headphones.

"Meryl and Charlie's short dance will be quick, designed to show flow and speed," Zoueva said. "The difference is day and night. The couples are super different."

Zoueva prefers to keep Davis and White's music selections private until after U.S. Figure Skating Champs Camp, Aug. 19-25 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Virtue and Moir will perform their free dance to selections from two turn-of-the-20th-century Russian composers, Alexander Glazunov and Alexander Scriabin.

"The free dance was a longer process [than the short dance] because the music was specially arranged for us," Moir said. "We're using music from Glazunov's ballet Seasons and Scriabin's 'Piano Concerto in F-sharp minor.'"

Dancer Sergei Volodin helped create new lifts, and Ontario dance instructor and choreographer Jennifer Swan assisted with movement. Zoueva picked the music and oversaw the work.

"The program is about the man-woman relationship and how it changes throughout the seasons of life," Zoueva said. "The music is not unusual, but I cannot remember ever seeing it used for a free dance, although it is dance music including a waltz.

"I ran through different music in my brain for a long time before I finally recognized these two pieces would be best for them," she continued. "I knew from my studies at university that these composers go together well."

Virtue and Moir began work on the program soon after the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships, and then took a vacation in May before heading back to the rink in June.

"From a couple like us, the skating world expects something new each season," Virtue said. "It took a lot of work and time, but we have five new lifts and other new elements in our programs."

Virtue -- who had operations in 2008 and 2010 to correct compartmental exertion syndrome in her legs -- emphasized that full-time training has not been a problem for her.

"I know when I have to take a break and relax for an hour or so," she said. "It's not a problem at all, and it fits perfectly in our training schedule."

Although it is generally thought that Virtue and Moir, who have won two world titles in addition to Olympic gold, will retire after this season, Virtue refused to say anything definite.

"We do not know yet what we will do for the season after the Olympics," she said. "We take it year by year.

"Our main goal is certainly the Olympics," Virtue continued. "It's our second Games now, and we know what to expect. But we certainly feel more pressure because we are the defending champions."

Zoueva said Virtue and Moir's first international competition will likely be Finlandia Trophy in early October, followed by Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard.