I had the pleasure of speaking with Lorna Brown over the phone and immediately it is imminent that the creativity inside of her pours into everything she does. Her passion for life is evident in her role as choreographer, activist, mentor, performer and artist. We welcome Lorna as the newest member of AIT’s Advisory Board and would love for you to get to know her a bit better.
GK: You are known for such original program concepts as a professional, but the one that stands out most is a piece you won with at the 1980 World Professional Championships. Tell me about the program and your inspiration behind it.
LB: It was based upon the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull (originally a fable written by Richard Bach). It was about a bird who didn’t fly with the rest of the flock. He transcended into other dimensions and was able to dive into the ocean. I could relate to that because I was always a bit different and didn’t follow the flock if you know what I mean. And so that really inspired me to make my program.
GK: You and John Curry have a long history together. Please share with me how you met and what your relationship was like.
LB: John and I were like kindred spirits. We met in London from a young age and trained together at the Streatham Ice Arena in London. We would talk about the possibilities of doing an ice ballet featuring all kinds of dancing. We would improvise and play Romeo and Juliet on the ice.
Everything that John did, he did with finesse. He knew his music and dancing. He danced onstage with Anthony Dowell, one of the greatest dancers Britain’s ever had. He did so many different styles like contemporary, classical and folk. It was wonderful.
GK: You were a principle in Curry ‘s “Ice Dancing” company in the 80s. What was that experience like?
LB: After John won the Olympics (in 1976), he asked me to be the first person to do his show and I of course said yes. We went into the Cambridge Theatre and had wonderful choreographers such as Kenneth MacMillan (former artistic director of the Royal Ballet in London) and Peter Martins (New York City Ballet). We did ballet class before every show. The standard was so high.
GK: As founder of the International Skating School “Skate of the Art,” tell me what your mission for this organization is.
LB: It started in 1995 and I used the name for my summer camps that went on for seven years. It was not just about skating, but dance, science and physics and how it all combined together. There were dance teachers, choreographers and physiological training. Rafael Arutunian would teach technique. I would teach creative on-ice classes that were purely based on skating technique exercises done more expressively with music.
GK: Lately you’ve choreographed programs for European medalist Kevin Van Der Perren, British Champion Jenna McCorkell and just recently did a piece for Emanuel Sandhu. Tell me about your choreographic process.
LB: I will pick music that will suit the style of the skater but also bring in some new type of movement. Something innovative that is out of the box. That’s the way you develop their style. It’s the person you are trying to bring out. And so it is imperative to have a really great beginning, middle and end. But you don’t have much time and are limited to a certain extent by the rules. So you have to highlight — you have to capture people when they first see you and again halfway through and then a really great ending.
GK: What is your view of current competitive skating?
LB: The judges are very conservative and old fashioned in skating. There’s not that many who will really appreciate something different. A lot of people are afraid of anything that’s not normal. It scares them. I do notice that a lot of people dress the same way. They’re just stereotyped – skaters are coming out with dresses that look similar to what they were 20 or 30 years ago. Even gymnasts are coming out with some amazing costumes now that look really designed and decorated.
GK: What are some of your upcoming goals and plans in the skating world?
LB: I’ve always dreamed of having my own show. I was thinking how great it would be to have a “Save Our Ice” show about the serious issues of global warming and arctic melting. There’s so much that could be done with that.