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New program to star Ross Miner as Errol Flynn

Boston skater looks to become romantic movie hero in Captain Blood routine

In addition to channeling Errol Flynn in his free skate, Ross Miner will take on the role of an illusionist in his short program.
In addition to channeling Errol Flynn in his free skate, Ross Miner will take on the role of an illusionist in his short program. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen, special to icenetwork.com
(06/05/2012) - Ross Miner is looking westward as he prepares for next season. He has been working with choreographer Tom Dickson on a new free skate set to music from the Errol Flynn movie Captain Blood, scored by Erich Korngold.

Dickson said he was looking for images from Hollywood's golden age for Miner.

"I wanted him to come across more romantic, like Errol Flynn," Dickson said. "There's also a striking resemblance between the two of them. I wanted the silver-screen idol image."

Dickson's wife, Catarina Lindgren, is choreographing Miner's new short program to Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini."

After a successful season, which included bronze medals at the NHK Trophy, the U.S. championships and the Four Continents Championships, Miner's longtime choreographer Jamie Isley suggested that he try working with someone new.

"She thought I needed some new ideas," Miner said. "I love Jamie; I think she's been fantastic for me."

While in Colorado Springs for Four Continents, one of Miner's coaches, Peter Johansson, spoke to Dickson and Lindgren about the possibility of working with Miner.

"When we started talking to them, they already had ideas," Miner said. "It was nice to have someone who was eager to work with me."

"I looked at his skating, and both Catarina and I realized he's incredibly powerful," Dickson said. "I wanted to take his power and shade it. I spoke to him in musical terms about strong, accented music versus soft, curvy music ... more elegant, understated, to soften his movement and make it more regal, so his power becomes his strength.

"I think his power was preventing him from moving more fully. I wanted more nuance in his skating."

Dickson and Lindgren spent a week in Boston working with Miner on both programs. Miner said Dickson spent 17 hours on the ice choreographing the free skate, starting with details.

"We started with the footwork sequence, in the middle," Miner said. "We would spend 20 minutes on a really small section. It was very stop and go. He did a really good job at making a story, something I could sell. It was fun to work with him. I really respect what he was trying to go for."

In the 1935 film, Flynn's character is convicted of treason and sold into slavery before becoming a pirate. Dickson is emphatic that he's going for movie-star romanticism in the program, not juvenile swashbuckling. Although Miner won't be trying to act out the movie, he says the program will follow the storyline.

"The beginning starts ominously; he's in the shadows, and he's trying to protect the woman from the evil dude. Tom wanted every step to have a story," Miner said. "I was expecting to be out of my comfort zone so far that doing it would feel alien, but it has been a lot of fun. Something about the way I'm skating, it is different. Tom has a lot of ballet in his background. I'm trying to emulate his carriage."

As they worked on the section in which he is captured, Dickson actually had Miner skate the choreography with his hands tied together.

"I was like, 'Wow, I've never done this before!'" said Miner, laughing.

Staying with stage and screen for Miner's short program, Lindgren says she wants Miner to portray the character of an illusionist.

"I was trying to make him take charge a little bit more, to be demanding and aggressive," Lindgren said. "I picture him like an illusionist character; you know, how they take the stage and command your attention. That's my idea for the movement: using his entire frame in the music. He's very strong and has beautiful edges. I want it to be punctuated with athleticism. When we finished doing it, I was very excited with how I saw he could look."

"It's very, very different for me," Miner said. "I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable with it. I can do it and I know that I'm doing it well."

Miner's coach, Mark Mitchell, was reluctant to discuss details of the technical content of the programs, but he did say they would like to have at least one quad in the program.

"Ross is ready to handle more emotion in his programs, so I think we're going to work on that too," Mitchell said.

While working on the choreography, Dickson also had Miner do some school figures.

"We spent a lot of time doing figures," Miner said. "We spend a good 30 minutes working on back outside loops. I'm not great at them, and he looked at them, tilted his head to the side, and said, 'That's very Picasso.' I had no idea how difficult it was."

Miner said one of his goals is to learn to skate the Skating Club of Boston logo (see logo here), which includes loops and brackets.

Costumes will probably be an integral part of both programs. Miner is planning to have them made by Chase Tyler from the Work Room in New York City. Tyler made Miner's Untouchables costume last year, the first skating costume he had made.

"At first, it was a little simple, but by the end I really liked it," Miner said. "It was clean and athletic and fit the program. He's excited about doing them. He was so easy to work with."

Dickson wants to play up the resemblance to Flynn by having Miner grow his hair longer and possibly dye it brown.

"I am resistant to change, but I do what I am told," Miner said with a laugh.

Miner is planning to skate one of the new programs at the Liberty Summer Competition in July. He also recently unveiled a new website, www.rossminer.net.