Competition skating inevitably affects this art form. The audience expects tricks; some of ITNY's choreographers gratify this urge, others evade it, still others straddle the fence. Marina and Marat Akbarov carry on the tradition of adagio on the glide, swooping lyrically into complicated maneuvers: She ends up upside-down, one hand braced on his skate, or supports herself by gripping his calf between her legs. On the other hand, in Requiem, Johann Renvall (formerly of American Ballet Theatre) sets a trio skating serenely in circles that gradually tighten and quicken; Alberto Del Saz, ex-Nikolais dancer, binds three women together in stretchy white cloth; and Douglas Webster, the company's associate artistic director, uses music by Gustav Mahler for Departures. Florentine Houdiniere and five other women skate in lovely, musically sensitive patterns, now looping around one another, now breaking away. Ice-dance choreographers face a unique problem: It's hard to calculate exactly a skater's stopping place. Maybe that's why they rarely use counterpoint.
David Liu, a superb skater-performer, excels both as a frustrated businessman in a smart solo, Ritual in 7's, made with JoAnna Mendl Shaw, and in JoJo Starbuck's Gershwin Theme, as a devil-may-care athlete, undefeated by a triple air turn landing in arabesque. What was hard: getting up afterward and not being able to glide all the way to the exit.