All That Skate Lights up LA

The Staples Center in Los Angeles came alive in early October when Korean superstar Yu-Na Kim brought her rock show on ice to the U.S. for the first time.

From the opening number, “Get the Party Started,” to the rocking finalé the show sizzled. Spectacular graphics on a giant screen at the end of the arena, pyrotechnics and a lighting production that rivaled a rock concert put this world-class event in a league of its own.


It was a moment in time. Kim and American skating icon Michelle Kwan performing on the same ice on U.S. soil.

It was the first time in four years Kwan had skated before a home crowd and the very first time Kim had ever performed on U.S. ice outside of competition.

Artistic director David Wilson wove his magic with the all-star cast that boasted a combined total of 10 Olympic medals and 14 World titles.

Kim and Kwan were joined by Stéphane Lambiel, Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Johnny Weir, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Patrick Chan and Ashley Wagner.

Guest stars included the B-Boys and Korean singing sensation Younha, who performed the theme song of the show, Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”


Breaking with tradition, fans with VIP tickets were permitted to attend the final dress rehearsal. “Normally no one attends dress rehearsals, so that was very cool,” said Wilson, who was joined by Kim and Kwan for a light-hearted question and answer session with those in attendance.

The show aired nationally on SBS television in Korea on Oct. 3 and a week later premiered on NBC in North America.

Kwan laughed as she spoke about her strong connection to the Staples Center. “For the last four years I have been going to the Lakers games, concerts, the Grammys – every time I have been there it was for something other than skating. It was always for someone else’s show, so it was kind of surreal that I was there for my own show for a change,” she said.

“When I stepped on to the ice for the opening number, I was so excited. I could not believe it had been four years since my last performance in America. I was like, ‘Hi L.A., hi everyone.’ It was so great,” Kwan recalled.

“Skating in my hometown with so many of my family and friends in the audience was very special.” One of her special guests was her brother, Ron, who flew in from Denmark for the show.

Performing in the U.S. with Kwan was a unique experience, Kim said. “It was my third show with Michelle but the first time doing it in her country. We were both very excited. Michelle and I get along so well.

“Everyone told us that our ‘Hero’ routine was very touching,” Kim said in reference to the duet she and Kwan performed.

“I was very happy that we did the show in the U.S. We knew there would be a lot of Korean fans, but the fact that so many people from all over North America attended the shows is a good sign for skating. Maybe there will be more shows in the U.S. in the future,” Kim added.

Lambiel, a veteran cast member of the show who knows how enthusiastic Asian audiences are about skating, was pleasantly surprised by the crowd response to the shows in LA.

“We are used to the Korean people, but we were not expecting too much from the American crowds,” he said. “We had a talk with David about this before the first show. We did not want to be sad because we expected too much from the audiences and it did not happen.

“But when everyone skated so awesome in the first show… I could see in Michelle’s eyes that there was a lot of emotion, but it was not just for her; it was for all of us.

“No one expected the reaction from the crowds that we got. It was amazing. It felt like we were back in Korea. It was totally unexpected and so fabulous.”

Wagner was thrilled when the invitation to join the show was presented to her. “I was looking at the list and counting the number of Olympians in the cast. I was a little guppy among the big wigs,” she said with a laugh.

“It was incredible. I was really lucky that they asked me to be in it. I had so much fun. The special effects, the lighting and the fireworks ... It was a really cool, amazing show.”

Originally published in December 2010