At last our coverage of An Evening With Champions begins! And we’re going to get right to it with Johnny’s Carmen, which surprised attendees as the first solo program of the show both nights. Not sure some of them will ever recover…
Last year Johnny skated in the opening and closing group numbers for EWC, and performed just one program, “Human.” This year he did not join the group numbers, but instead did two performances. Generally as the top name in a skating show, he is the closing solo act for both the first and second halves of the event. But in an interesting production decision by EWC, he opened the show with Carmen, and closed it with Creep.
And both nights the audience seemed so taken aback to see the star of the show gliding onto the ice FIRST that they hardly seemed to know how to react. Though they appplaud when EWC emcee Paul Wylie introduces him, you’ll notice in the video below that the arena is so nonplussed when he actually appears that it’s nearly silent except for a few happy shrieks.
But by about midway through Carmen each night, their momentary shock was most definitely overtaken by appreciation and delight in his program. And what a program it is.
By the end, as you’ll hear, he was rewarded with thunderous applause and screams.
The following photos and video are from his Friday performance only, with Saturday coverage to come. Most of these are absolutely huge, so if you’d like to revel in up-close detail of his costume, his expressions, or even his blades, please click on any photo to do just that.
Personally I wasn’t thrilled when Carmen won Johnny’s fan poll last year, although it was kind of awesome that his fans overwhelmingly wanted him to take on this tired old warhorse of skating to see what he would do to revive it. But now having seen this program live three times, and also via countless videos from his Asian tours this summer, I humbly bow to those who voted for it. His fiery, passionate, gender-fluid, uniquely Johnny interpretation has redefined this classic for a new generation. I love it so much that his cut of the music is now stuck permanently but happily in my head, a soundtrack to the spellbinding moments captured in these gorgeous images.
The video includes captioning of Paul Wylie’s wonderful introduction, in which he described Johnny as a “two-time World bronze medalist,” which is actually not the case (but fans loved it). Johnny won the 2008 Worlds bronze medal, and was the only American figure skater to medal at Worlds that year.
(Please forgive the shaky camera work and random out-of-frame glitches… argh. But while the videographer needs improvement, Johnny is brilliant throughout!)
Exclusive photos © David Ingogly.