hawayek baker together

If American ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker know their stylistic strengths, they know even better how they aim to expand them — beginning with a season’s debut at this week’s Finlandia Trophy. Their new short dance, featuring “Waltz of the Flowers” and “Dance of the Parents” from The Nutcracker, came together through collaboration between the team and coach Anjelika Krylova as a vehicle to convey pure skating skills in a more classical manner.

“It’s definitely a little harder because we’re very flowy skaters — we still have that flow within our music and in our skating, but rather than blending movements [in a contemporary way] as we have in the past, especially with our free dances, we have to really hit and finish our lines as you would in a ballet,” said Baker, who also highlighted the importance of performance quality to the program’s success.

“Ballets are so intricate with their choreography, but sometimes they can get boring as it’s hard to see the expression and whatnot,” he continued. “So we’re trying to draw out different expressions throughout the program as well.”

Krylova brought an experienced eye to the creative proceedings.

“Anjelika is born and raised in Russia, trained in Russia, and she’s got that classical ballet training, so when we were starting our short dance, she really had a good foundation to start with compared to us,” said Hawayek. “So I think she had an understanding of what needed to be incorporated in the program and then from there we kind of made it our own.”

And the coach’s high expectations led to a program that, Baker noted, utilizes nearly every beat or nuance of music—a tall order.

“When she finished choreographing it and we did a walk-through of it, she didn’t realize how fast she was making our turns and steps. She was like ‘Yeah, just do it like this, on this beat!’” said Baker. “Once we did the walk-through afterwards, Anjelika went ‘Oooooh. That’s harder than I thought it was.’”….. read more here