Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao: Pure Artistry on Ice

Some of the world’s top skating stars took to the stage for the 2012 “Artistry on Ice” tour that played out in Taiwan and three cities in China in June.

Headliners Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao were joined by Shizuka Arakawa, Evgeni Plushenko, Joannie Rochette, Johnny Weir, Jeffrey Buttle, guest star Yuna Kim, and other international stars.

“We are very grateful for the companies who support this show such as Artistry and BMW. The very close collaboration helps us to fulfill our dreams,” Zhao said.

“We also want to provide opportunities for young athletes in China. In Taipei we invited Lin Lixue, and here in China we had Ma Xiaoqing, Nan Song and Wenjing Sui and Han Cong. We want the young athletes to feel inspired by us. We started from nothing but it turns out that Chinese skaters can also make it at the international level.

“The Beijing show was in the Capital Stadium, which is like our second home. We have been there training since 1992. There were so many memories.”

Shen and Zhao performed a number “20 Years” which was a compilation of sections of many of their competitive programs. “So many memories from competitions came back to us,” added Zhao who serenaded his wife during the shows.

It was the second time Shizuka Arakawa had performed in the show. "I wanted to show my passion and energy performing this number from a Japanese perspective,” she said of her flamenco program.

Joannie Rochette was happy to be touring in China again. “The Chinese fans are so enthusiastic. The theme this year was ‘Red Temptation’ and to me red is the color of love, the color of passion, so I tried to show this on the ice,” she explained. “My first number was a French song about an English woman who met a French man and they fell in love.”

Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko was in a competitive mood, performing both of his new programs at the show. “My short is ‘Storm’ and the long is a Tango. Both are performed to music from my best friend Edvin Marton,” Plushenko said. “I look forward to skating these programs for everyone. I always skate for everyone, not just for myself.”

Performing to “Moulin Rouge” was one of Johnny Weir’s favorite moments. “I love that movie. When I heard the opening was “Moulin Rouge” I was very happy, because I knew all of us were going to have fun. We were all dressed very gentlemanly,” he said.

“My costumes were actually quite simple for me. For one of my programs I collaborated with Edvin, who as you know always makes great music. I really wanted the music to speak for itself so I did not need to dress like a Christmas tree for it.”

Kurt Browning loves performing his popular routine “I’m Yours” because of the interaction he has with the audience. Getting into the spirit of the event he wore a shirt with Chinese characters (我是你的).

When asked if he was performing in all four cities this year as a way of making up for his one performance in Beijing last year Jeffrey Buttle blushed. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to do to the entire tour last year. It’s lovely to perform for new people, new audiences and of course my very dedicated Chinese fans."

Buttle admitted he would welcome the opportunity to choreograph the show sometime in the future. “Absolutely I’d love to do it," he said.

The tour was the final performance for Shen and Zhao. “After this we will be working with the Chinese Junior National team. For the details of what we will be doing, there’s still a lot left for discussions,” Zhao said.

Editor's Note: Click on the photo to scroll through the gallery.