Aerial Ice delivers but falls short of 'AGT' semis

Team could be brought back as a wild card

The members of Aerial Ice huddle together to receive feedback from the judges following their performance Tuesday night.
The members of Aerial Ice huddle together to receive feedback from the judges following their performance Tuesday night. (Virginia Sherwood/NBC)


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By Sarah S. Brannen, special to
(08/15/2013) - Aerial Ice, the six-person aerial figure skating team, got its chance to perform live Tuesday night on NBC's America's Got Talent. The audience cheered with enthusiasm and at least two of the judges were thrilled, but on the live results show Wednesday night, the group didn't collect enough votes to advance to the semifinal rounds.

The team, made up of Kim Navarro, Brent Bommentre, Tosha Handford, Chris Trefil, Angela Kim and Joel Dear, performed an artistic and powerful number to "No Light, No Light" by Florence + The Machine. Against a blue backdrop of arched windows and blowing curtains, the skaters performed adagio lifts and a double death spiral, even skating down a steep ramp, while aerialists Kim and Dear soared high above the stage on silks and ropes.

"I thought it was awesome," judge Heidi Klum said. "This is something I'd love to go and see in Vegas with my entire family."

"I am really pleased," judge Howard Stern said. "This is so wonderful. You did exactly what I wanted you to do. As good as you were the first time we saw you, you always have to step it up on America's Got Talent, and you delivered. This is dangerous and yet graceful -- fantastic, wonderful job."

Adapting their act to the big stage at Radio City Music Hall was a challenge. After rehearsing in several different spaces in New York City, the group finally had a chance to run through the full version the night before the show. Navarro said that several things had to change at the last minute.

"We were as prepared as we could have been, but everything changed with camera blocking," she said Thursday morning. "I was so impressed with the whole group -- it could have gone really terribly; we could have had a big collision on the ice. At one moment during the live show, Brent had to stand up on the ramp so Angela and Chris could pass us!"

All the members of the group are experienced competitors and performers, and they drew on that for the performance.

"It was pretty exciting," Kim said Wednesday before the results show. "It almost felt like competition! We were all a bit anxious; there were a lot of aspects of the staging we weren't familiar with. It was an amazing experience."

"The whole process was kind of a whirlwind," Dear said. "The first time we were able to step on the stage with the rigging and the ramps and the ice, at that size, was Monday night. It was kind of a crazy experience because everything was happening so fast. Being on that stage, and seeing how big the theater was, was kind of exciting and surreal in a way."

"I thought the performance was really, really good," Bommentre added. "We really leaned on our experiences as performers to get through it. It was super fun. I wish that we had a chance to do it seven more times."

In the introduction to their live number, backstage footage showed the group reading a supportive email from Sarah Hughes, who was in the audience Tuesday. Many big names from skating tweeted votes for the group, including Ashley Wagner, Adam Rippon, Sandra Bezic, Tai Babilonia, Ryan Bradley, Rachael Flatt, Richard Dornbush, Amanda Evora and Jason Brown.

After their elimination, the members of Aerial Ice were understandably sad to not be continuing.

"I'm really disappointed," Bommentre said. "There's more that we could have done."

"I was a little bit surprised [to be eliminated]," Dear said. "We were hoping we'd be able to continue on in the competition. It was really disappointing to [leave] before we could show everything we had to offer. We weren't able to show all the apparatuses we wanted to."

Having come this far, the six skaters hope that Aerial Ice will get the chance to perform together again at some point.

"There's a strong desire in all of us to continue to keep working together," Dear said. "We're all kind of bummed out that our place on the show is over, but we're excited and we hope this can live on in some capacity."

"Having put that out there, I have a feeling that it's going to happen again, somewhere, sometime," Bommentre added.

Navarro mentioned that a few acts will be added to the next rounds of the show as wild cards.

"There's a chance we might be back," she said.