Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Heartbreakingly Beautiful

Beautiful Johnny during the premiere of his new exhibition program, ‘Heartbreak,’ at the Skating Club of Wilmington’s Spring Ice Show. Detail of an exclusive photo © David Keyser. Full image below.

Today we present the first photographs of Johnny’s haunting new program, ‘Heartbreak,’ which he premiered at the Skating Club of Wilmington’s Spring Ice Show. Though he was less than satisfied with his performance — particularly Friday’s, according to his lol-worthy comments about it on the podcast — I am here to confirm that the spellbound audience loved it.

This program is both classically expressive and graceful Johnny, and yet strikingly different. As always, and as only he can, Johnny does not skate to or on top of the music — a well-cut mix of ‘How It Ends’ by DeVotchka, and ‘You & Me (Flume Remix)’ by Disclosure — but rather completely embodies it to paint a mesmerizing story of love and shattering heartbreak, told through blades slicing across a canvas of glittering, reflective ice. Within the first few moments, the audience was captivated, drawn into the beauty and the pain, uniquely illustrated by Johnny yet universal in its theme. It is a compelling and deeply moving program, and one that will only become more so as he continues to refine it throughout his touring season.

I was able to post the video while we were still in Delaware, but the photos presented a new and time-consuming challenge to render as they were meant to be rendered (thus why it has taken me forever to publish this post!). Davey recently upgraded his equipment to achieve the results he prefers as an artist: the speed and power of digital harnessed to create the look and quality of old-school film. The new equipment and his expertise delivered as hoped, but the challenge lay in processing the images with a minimum of . . . processing. In other words, I wanted the finished photos to look exactly as he took them, which, in the age of digital cameras, is more problematic than one might think. It required new software tools (and a bit of a steep learning curve for me) to take the images from camera to web / print basically untouched. But at last we got there, and the result is a photo series unlike any we’ve done before. I didn’t really understand Davey’s dissatisfaction with his previous equipment until I saw these. The difference is both subtle and powerful. Now standard digital images seem heavy and “crunchy” to me, while these feel both real and otherworldly — timeless, elegant, and utterly ethereal, very much like the subject himself.

Please click any photo to open the full-size image in a separate window and enjoy it in all its breathtaking detail. These are huge and may be slow to load, but are most definitely worth the wait. Video of Johnny’s performance (plus new bonus video!) is below.


Video link.


A superstar’s work is never done: after performing two programs, Johnny returns during the curtain call to greet the audience, sign autographs for dazzled young fans, help the show photographer arrange a group photo of all the skaters, and participate in the happy chaos of said group photo. Plus carry this ginormous lollipop. He’s an amazing man, a fabulous showman, and tremendously kind and patient with every fan.

Video link.


Exclusive photos © David Keyser.