Monday, January 16, 2017

Farewell to Beloved 'Creep'

Beautiful Johnny strikes the ending pose in his final performance of ‘Creep’ at the University of Delaware’s US National Figure Skating Send-Off Exhibition. Exclusive photo © David Keyser.

So we had an amazing time at Johnny’s performance at the University of Delaware, and then we had a little travel snafu where we ended up getting home about 48 hours later than planned and going by way of New Jersey, which is not actually on the way to Chicago from Delaware but that’s another story entirely.

So given this unexpected delay, I threw the video of Johnny’s final ‘Creep’ onto YouTube without actually looking at it really closely and then realized that it’s fairly dark, but the implications of that didn’t totally click with me until about 872 miles and three days later when I finally carved out some time to start going through our photos and that’s when I remembered that the show was wonderful but the lighting was . . . challenging.

The arena lit the rink with standard overhead lights, like the lighting for a competitive event, rather than the spotlights usually employed for exhibitions. The result: dim photos in which the skaters just blend right into the background, which was a colorful cacophony of faces, hats, coats, scarves, bleachers, bulletin boards, banners, posters, random doors, spilled popcorn, half-eaten pizza slices, and a super-distracting bright yellow border that ran all the way around the rink.

We realized standard-processed photos would simply be unable to do justice to Johnny’s shatteringly beautiful performance and the way in which the audience perceived it.

So we did something a little different.

Johnny skated last, and he was, as always, the highlight of the evening. After the initial frenzied shrieking when he took the ice, the audience became hushed, caught up in the poignant beauty of ‘Creep’ from the first few strokes of his blades. Many watched fully engaged in the realization that this was the last time any of us would see him perform this program, which has become something of a legend in the two years that he has skated it.

Our photos of this performance have been monochromatically stylized to quiet the visual noise of the background and put the focus on Johnny, just as the audience did in that moment, spellbound by his costume, his movements, and his interpretation of the song. The only variation in color is seen in the red soles of his skates, and his red gloves: added to his costume that night, he explained, to symbolize the death of the program.

I hope these photos help you not only to see Johnny on the ice, but to feel what it was like to tune everything out and just watch him skate. In this modest setting — no media, no glamour, no special lighting — Johnny gave a brilliant final performance of this stunning program that is uniquely his own.

You’re just like an angel . . .
You float like a feather
In a beautiful world . . .
You’re so very special . . . 

Most of these are wonderfully huge, so please click any photo to view the full-size image.

Acknowledging the crowd as they begin to rise in the only standing ovation of the night.


Yes, of course we’ve all seen this already, but here it is again because Creep.

Video link.


From the finale/curtain call. Special thanks to Sara J., who gave us additional exclusive photos to use!


The finale! Totally Johnny-focused, of course, since that’s how we like our skating finales.
Video link.


Yes, there were some. Here’s a preview to enjoy whilst I edit the 8 billion photos from this part of the evening . . .

The Brothers Weir.

Group shot of fans with the incredibly gracious and kind Weir family! L to R: Chris Krafft, Jen Warfield, Binky, Johnny, John & Patti Weir, Boz Weir, Sinikka Grant, Stacy, Jenn Kittler, and Erin Zahradnik.

Exclusive photos © David Keyser.

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