By Ryan Ngala
[Riverbank State Park, New York] Figure Skating in Harlem (FSH) kicks off its 16th annual ice show at Riverbank State Park in Harlem on (Sat. March 23rd and Sun. March 24th at both 7 and 3pm); many people had waited in line with their tickets in their hands just to get in. It was a long line; as I got there the show was about to start. Things were running smoothly. Some ticket holders started to go upstairs to the upper balcony while some people wanted seats in the middle of the lower area; when everyone was settled the ice show began.
The host of the show was none other than Tamara Tunie of NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU.” She started things off by introducing the Harlem Ice Beginner 3 Synchronized Skating Team; they skated to three Whitney Houston songs, “My Love Is Your Love,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and “How will I know?.” The team danced and skated so swiftly that they wowed the crowd with a stunning performance; “La Conga Blicoti” by Josephine Baker. The event was an outstanding Sunday skating performance featuring FSH students, Kaylia Allen, Nya Davis, Kortney DeBride, Ava Grace Gardner, Isis Glover, Andrea Heredia, Zoe Littles-Ward, Narju Nawar, Eden Pichardo, Ashley Prentice and Jalynn Satterthwaite. Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good” was performed by FSH students Tanay Davis, Taharie Murga, Thalyia Thompson, and Zenzile Tonge; the quartet of performers skated with all their strength as they spun and twirled until the very end.
Other FSH students skated to the songs of many great women artists and songs including:
“Fantasy” By Mariah Carey
“I Got Rhythm” By Lena Horne
“New Attitude” By Patti LaBelle
“Unpretty” By TLC
“Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” By Selena
“Sweet Dreams” By Beyoncé
“No One” By Alicia Keys
“Respect” By Aretha Franklin
“Strong Enough” By Cher
“Colette Shows Him the Ropes / Infernal Galop” By Michael Giacchino & Jacques Offenbach
“Family Affair” By Mary J. Blige
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” By Lauryn Hill
“Step by Step” By Whitney Houston
“Brave” By Idina Menzel
“Palladio” By Escala and
“Midnight Train to Georgia” By Gladys Knight and The Pips.
Three FSH soloists then prepared to skate on the ice and strut their stuff; Sharendalle Murga was up first skating to Idina Menzel’s “Brave.” Executing her spins and going around in circles, skating so magnificently, her performance ended in even more memorable moves on the ice. Second was Jiordan Ali who danced to Leontyne Price’s “Summertime;” her skating was actually quite amazing and the crowd applauded for her so she continued to skate even harder; the more she skated, the better her skating became. Last but not least, there was the one and only Florence Ngala (my sister) who skated to Adele’s “Hometown Glory;” her performance was choreographed by Ali Blank. On hand to see Florence’s skating routine during FSH’s Saturday prorgram were Abel, Wendy, Auntie Doreen and Tina (Mom); her amazing performance was recorded on Auntie Doreen’s iPad by her sister Wendy. It was a marvelous performance as ever and the entire crowd gave Florence a standing ovation which was even louder than ever before. Because it was Florence’s last performance as an FSH student, her family and fans gave her an enthusiastic send off. It had been 11 years since she started skating at the age of six.
When Florence’s solo performance was over, Sharon Cohen, FSH founder and director, stepped into the ice rink and said a couple of words before the start of the skating finale. She asked the crowd “Are you guys having a good time?” The crowd went wild as the audience yelled “Yeah!!!”, I was shouting and screaming even more than the audience did.
Sharon then said “It really takes a village to run a fantastic organization.” She and Bernice had dreamt about an ice skating program in Harlem for years before FSH became a reality. Sharon then introduced the FSH staff members who made the performance possible by pushing the FSH students to be successful both on and off the ice.
Three FSH students who will be leaving the program Florence, Sharendalle and Jiordan received flowers; along with Bria Culpepper and Kayla Stewart also received flowers because they will be going to college soon. At that point Florence cried heartfelt tears of joy. Then all five FSH students stepped into the ice rink for a final bow.
The finale Performance was performed by all the FSH students who were introduced by Tamara Tunie, the FSH students skated to both Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” and Beyoncé’s “Run The World.”
The Harlem Ice Open Juvenile Synchronized Skating Team (Jiordan Ali and Sharendalle Murga were up along with Kolby Couch, Tanay Davis, Eliyah Mckayle, Taharie Murga, Florence Ngala, Zjana Ray, Nikaila Saunders, Kayla Stewart, Thaylia Thompson, Zenzile Tonge and Sandra Williams) skated to “Girl On Fire.” The two team captains skated so swiftly with spins and twirls to the audience’s delight; the crowd cheered with excitement. Next all of the FSH students skated to the right and left of the ice rink to Beyoncé’s “Run the world.” When the entire group of skaters entered during the ice rink the crowd went wild, screaming from the top of their lungs.
The FSH students from the youngest to oldest were the stars of the event. As their performance came to an end, the crowd gave them a loud round of applause and a standing ovation for their outstanding skating performance at the heart of Riverbank State Park.
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