Authentic On-Ice Creation with Ice Cold Combos
He grabbed three friends and a camera. That was the beginning of Ice Cold Combos. Fresh, raw and authentic on-ice choreographed routines posted to social media that allow skating to be seen through a different lens. You thought "ice dancing" was lavish costumes, complicated patterns and palpable tension between partners? Think again. Adam Blake is Associate Choreographer for Disney On Ice, Choreographer for National, World and Olympic Competitors and Founder, Director and Choreographer for Ice Cold Combos. He has a different vision for the future of ice skating and is constantly searching for the next opportunity to satisfy his creative hunger. Adam certainly has no reservation to break the rules and pave his own way through the creative figure skating world that is bound by points & restrictions and plagued by subjectivism.
For aspiring choreographers, Adam notes the importance of embracing every unique experience. The value of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations to promote personal growth will show up ten-fold in your creative work. Ice Cold Combos seem like a couple of friends having fun on the ice with good music. It makes you want to tie up your skates and jump right in. Get some creative inspiration and check out what Adam has to say about his experience as a working creative in the skating world.
How did you come up with the concept for Ice Cold Combos?
Adam: In all honesty, it came as a solution to my creative hunger. I had just came off of the build for Disney On Ice Presents Frozen, and I was yearning for another opportunity to create. So I grabbed three friends (Adriana Krause, Taiki Masaki, Nick Donaldson) and a camera (Terry Lawton) and started making videos.
What vision do you have for the future of Ice Cold Combos?
Adam: I would love to produce more shows or have shows picked up by production companies. ICC is a very real and raw company that steps away from the glitz and glam of most ice shows and dives into the more grittier material. I would love to continue our outreach program that involves teaching at US Figure Skating events and seminars across the world.
How do you see the evolution of the sport of figure skating?
Adam: We need to change the way we film and present skating. With everyone owning a camera in their phone these days, people are more familiar with viewing things so incredibly up close. On Ice Perspectives has really tapped into this genre of video production and this truly is the future of the way skating needs to be viewed. Choreographically the sport is evolving so much. Nathan Chen's "Nemesis" choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne was pure genius. I feel that a true artist won't let rules stifle their work.
What has been your favorite choreography gig to date? How did you feel during the experience?
Adam: Producing Music Best Served Cold: The First Live Folk-Rock Ice Concert was the most amazing experience of my life. To have brought together 11 amazing skaters, an incredible band, The Northerners, and to have created an original work was beyond my wildest dreams. There was a moment during rehearsals when we first skated to the band's live music where the energy was so incredibly overwhelming. We all did the finale number in tears because at that moment we were part of something that was truly our own.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration? How do you stay inspired to choreograph original pieces?
Adam: I have been blessed to have had the best teachers: Simone Grigorescu, Cindy Stuart, Kevin Wilson, and Christopher Dean. I am always learning so much every day from these brilliant minds. But I also keep my mind going by constantly listening to new music and exposing myself to new media from plays to musicals to TV Shows to an avant garde performance in an alleyway.
What has been your favorite original piece you have choreographed to date? What was the story or inspiration behind it?
Adam: I recently choreographed a piece for my young Theatre on Ice Team, Encore of Boston. It is this piece about young orphans that escape to Where the Wild Things Are. This has to be one of my favorite pieces that I have to date.
What is your favorite Ice Cold Combo and why?
Adam: Rather Be was the beginning so it will always hold a special place in my heart. And also it was never taken down by the music companies, so thats nice.
(Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LlBpvFm4ic)
What would be your dream ice show production?
Adam: My shows have this gritty, "flannel", STOMP! sort of feel. I love developing languages at the beginning of a show that the audience ends up understanding and speaking towards the end of the show. I love performers playing themselves or versions of themselves to make the performance truly real.
What has been your favorite character/personality to skate and perform? Why?
Adam: Myself. ;) I love being able to relax into this confident alter-ego that just gets to jam out with his friends.
What are obstacles you face as a performer and choreographer?
Adam: The constant case of the "I suck"s. As a creative you deal with this on not only an everyday basis, but an every second basis. There are moments when you create something real that speaks to you and gives you that rush that you are doing something right, and those fleeting moments make every single torturous second worthwhile.
On social media, skating professionally can seem like a glamorous job from the costumes to the international destinations. What is your truth about life as a working artist?
Adam: It's a hustle. You are constantly selling yourself, plugging on social media, and staying current. But above-all you have to be producing good work. You can promote and be that beautiful face on instagram or twitter (I'm permanently banned from facebook), but it all comes down to producing good work.
What advice do you have for aspiring choreographers?
Adam: Embrace every learning experience that you can. Go to dance class, go to a concert, see that movie, try aggressive inline skating. Push yourself out of your comfort zone to where you are in a constant state of learning.
You can check out Ice Cold Combos at www.icecoldcombos.com. For more current, up-to-date activites, be sure to follow them on Instagram @icecoldcombos.