Since I started my little personal Virtue/Moir celebration with a top ten of Tessa and Scott’s outfits, now I’m going to look at programs. Really, I have enjoyed pretty much all of their programs, particularly the short (or original) dances. Frequently these have been my personal favourites, even if their free dances have often been the most memorable; what people think of when they hear “Virtue/Moir.” But whether original, short or free, their programs celebrate pure dance. They fully express the music, whatever the style. They embrace it and seem to exude the love and joy of music in their movement. So, here we go! Taking into consideration the music, choreography, execution and performance of their senior ice dance programs, and trying to keep a equal representation of short and free, in chronological order, here are my top ten:
Dark Eyes OD 2007-2008
This short dance where Scott gets to be his expressive best. I love his hand gestures in the final lift of the program. The program is fiery and intricate, really capturing the audience, and it builds to a really satisfying conclusion. I also like that their is a real feeling of underlying tension, simmering beneath the surface. This was just at their second World Championships! It’s quite ambitious – I think the curve lift is very cool – but there is also something about it that is very youthful and vivacious. You can feel they are young and hungry and daring. I just feel like it was a program perfectly suited to that point of their career.
Umbrellas of Cherbourg FD 2007-2008
Talk about about a program being perfectly suited to a young and fresh pair. This is (still) a breath of fresh air! They are completely immersed in the music and in the performance, in one another. They express the idea of love at first sight so well and their speed across the ice is wonderful, and the flow! The whole program just flows, everything is seamless. The movement is so open and free and quite lovely to watch; I especially love the first lift. I think this is maybe my favourite of their free programs. And in this particular performance I think they made some good choices, particularly Tessa with her hair down. This was the season they really arrived and established themselves at the top and I think their programs had a lot to do with it. This one certainly established their romantic image, but what I really love is the contrast between the original and the free, one dramatic and passionate, the other soft and romantic and how they are able to express both so well.
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon FD 2008-2009
This is such interesting program! I love the choreography that seems to be centered on spirals (as in the shape). I also love the dark, minimal costumes which really let the movement speak because this program is really about their bodies expressing music. On the whole, this program was quite a departure for them (which I’m sure was the point) and really showed that they were willing to challenge themselves and innovate. I think skating fans really came to expect this of them and later tended to be disappointed if they felt they hadn’t gone far enough. But as to the program itself, I think all lifts are gorgeous. The only thing I wish is that we didn’t get to see this program more; that we didn’t get to see it really build and evolve through a season. I sort of want to see them do it now. Do you think they would be up for it?
Farrucas OD 2009-10
This program is electric. And talk about a demanding! It is so intricate and explosive; it demands so much sharpness and precision. It took a little while for them to get it under control but we are back to the same kind of fieriness of Dark Eyes that was missing a bit from the previous year. Her body so expressive as the cape and they embody the style so well. I love how so passionate and intense they are, but always building, right up to thee no touch step sequence, which is really a show stopper. You can’t help but be drawn in. This was a program that they sort of struggled with early on but I really appreciate that they did not tame this program down but they stuck with it because in the end, and I think Pyeongchang bears this out, their fieriness is why they win.
Mahler FD 2009-10
When I was re-watching this three things struck me: (1) their speed and (2) Tessa and Scott are the only people who can ever skate to this music. We don’t even bother saying what the piece is anymore. We just say Mahler. It truly is a beautiful program and their is almost a simplicity to it. Is this maybe the most iconic of all their programs? Although, apparently the Olympic Committee doesn’t want me to show you their performance at 2010 Olympics but if you would like to watch it, you can find it here. And finally, (3) Marina and Igor together produced some great skating. Why did they ever break up? I think it was a mistake.
Rhumba SD #1 2011-12
I didn’t realize this program went through so many versions and alterations until I started to look back. There were some details and moments that I really like that got lost along they way but the performance they were looking for all came together here at Worlds. I think I admire them in this program more knowing that they struggled with it but completely mastered it in the end. This is a style they do so well; they both look so confident and like they are really enjoying it. And in historical context part of me is really happy that they got to continue with the style when their great Latin free dance only got one performance the previous season. I suspect if it had more time to develop over a season it may have made the list here.
Carmen FD 2012-13
This is truly my favourite Carmen; it may also be my favourite free dance. I really think it brings alive the emotion and passion and story of the opera, which also makes it incredibly demanding bring alive. And yet, they bring it alive they did, very successfully. Carmen is definitely a skating war horse, but I like that they took it on deliberately, intentionally re-interpreting what we’ve seen before. I think they have the advantage of being two people, able to show the interaction of the two main characters and the development of the story, but they are incredibly intense and committed. I love it. I think Nationals is my favourite version because it still included the the beautiful spin originally choreographed for the program but by this point the ending had changed to the better ending variation, instead of the lift they tried but that never seemed to work earlier in the season. I should say I never really like the straight line lift part of the combination. It always seem more of an arobatic choice than something that really fit the story or music but it’s in every version, so what can you do? Worlds is maybe the better performance overall (minus one visible bobble) but regardless of which competition you watch, this program is just so satisfying to watch.
Cheek-to-Cheek SD 2013-14
Oh, wow! I’m with you British Euro Sport. I could watch this program over and over for a very long time. It is so playful, flirtatious, sophisticated, musical and charming. Everything about it exudes class. They are so precise in their skating, yet all the while it feels free and easy. I don’t know it anything else really needs to be said. It speaks for itself. I think their performance at the Olympics is really their best outing (again, Olympic Committee), so if you have time, give it a gander.
Prince SD 2016-17
This short dance is just such a blast and they appear to be having a blast while they skate it. The energy is fabulous. It’s probably the closest thing you’ll get to an exhibition program in a really tight, difficult, competitive program. I think they could win anyone over. They are so sharp and close, and so confident. I even came around on Tessa’s jumpsuit. Actually, I think I enjoy it more and more each time I watch it. It builds to a terrific ending. And I think we need to mention Scott’s face! His eyebrows are amazing.
Journey FD 2016-17
I didn’t think this was one of my favourite programs until I re-watched it and realized that I like every single thing in the program, each lift, every step sequence, everything. (I think the straight line lift is brilliant and inspired and it’s maybe one of my absolute favourite lifts.) It’s a beautiful, innovative program overall and they look so good. They just fly across the ice and I love the details where they mirror one another. I also savour the melancholy and tenderness of it. It makes me wonder what Marie-France had in mind for them, what she would have done the following season if they hadn’t chosen Moulin Rouge. I always wanted them to do something sad that would just make everyone weep. They sort of chose that with Moulin but I feel like this was moving towards that.
I couldn’t decide which performance I like better, so I included both. I always think it’s interesting to compare the changes to a program from one outing to another, so that’s a little added fun. They did change a few things here and there along the way in this program.
I just have to mention a few programs which came close to making my list:
Moulin Rouge FD 2017-18
This is another dance that falls into the fiery category. I really do love the program and love that both Tessa and Scott committed to going through a whole gamut of emotions. I can understand wanting to dance to Tango Roxanne because no matter how many times I have heard it, I always find it dramatic and satisfying, despite it’s overuse in the skating world. (Maybe that will now come to an end?) The opening, from Tessa’s flying leap to the lift and twizzles and first step sequence, I could watch and re-watch. But really, this dance has two versions and neither left me 100% satisfied. (The Olympic performance was outstanding nonetheless, and these comments don’t really matter in light of it and this is all really just “in theory” anyway, but for what it’s worth….) There were elements in each of version that I wish were present in a final final version. It’s my dream version. There several moments in the second half got axed in the revised version but I really missed them, like when she twice reached forward and then fell into his arms just shortly before she died. I kept thinking of ways they could be brought back. However, I really loved the addition of the spiral where Tessa is supported by Scott supported an Ina Bauer. The change to the curve lift too, I thought, was a big improvement, really using and expressing the music well. Tessa and Scott have revised programs throughout their career but I’ve never so consciously missed something or longed for something a little more as with this program. But, in the end, I think they made the right decision to make the changes they did. The performance at the Olympics was just astounding and that is really the best thing – they did their best in the biggest moment.
Assassin’s Tango OD – 2006-07
As I have said before, I LOVE when Virtue and Moir tango. I think they encapsulate the style so well. But I guess you can’t just have tangos all the time but of Virtue and Moir’s softer style versus fiery style, I think I usually prefer the fiery. They took a very sleek, authentic approach to tango in this program. I love watching their intricate legs flips, where they quickly move their legs around one another (or whatever the correct terminology is). I think their maturity and poise in this dance, for their first year in seniors, is remarkable.
Tango/Golden Waltz SD 2010-11
Another tango, I know! I think if they had had a full season with this program, it may have made more of an impact in general, but still, it has a lot of nice details – like the entrance into the straight line lift – and a classy 1920s feel. It is a bit more of a romantic, languid feel than some of their other tangos (especially when it’s combined with the Golden Waltz – which they do superbly) but I can still see them in Argentina. It’s interesting to compare to the their Assassin’s Tango. You can see how they matured, polished and smoothed their skating, but at the same time, you can see all the ingredients were there to begin with.
Funny Face FD 2011-12
I went back and forth between Mahler and this free dance for the final list. It was petty hard to make my final decision. I love this music. I think it was an excellent, inspired choice, especially with the combination of styles, Broadway, big band and jazz. I sort of melt a bit when they get to “S’Wonderful” but it goes by so quickly and builds to a fabulous finish.