After a two-year hiatus, Jason Brown is back doing what he loves the most. Currently on tour with Stars on Ice in the U.S., the two-time Olympian is soaking in every second of being able to perform for live audiences once again.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in early 2020, skating tours were cancelled around the globe, and while shows returned in other countries in 2021, that was not the case in North America.
Brown admits he never knew how much performing for a live audience meant to him until the option was no longer available to him. “It is so special. I will never take performing in front of people for granted ever again. I don’t feel like I did in the past but especially now I am embracing every single moment,” he said during a tour stop in New York City.
“Just the fact that I get to perform in front of people again, tour the country with my teammates and best friends in the sport — it is really special. There is a great group of athletes on the tour, the group numbers are so fun and, honestly, it is like this huge celebration. We are all so grateful to be in front of an audience and get to perform for people again.”
Brown noted that those attending the shows seem equally as excited to be back in arenas watching some of the world’s best perform without the constraints of competition. “We have had the most warm, welcoming crowds. You can feel that support, you can feel the enthusiasm — you can feel it has been so long since they got to go to a skating show,” he said.
“We were so disconnected from the fans and the people that have supported us for so long, so the fact that we get to perform in front of them again is almost like a welcome home celebration, which makes it even more special.”
As much as Brown and the rest of the cast are revelling in the opportunity to perform live across the country, they are also enjoying the activities that tour organizers have been arranging at different stops. So far, those include a trip to Disneyland in Orlando, Florida, an Elton John concert in Greensboro, North Carolina and a hockey game in Newark, New Jersey between the hometown Devils and the Buffalo Sabres.
“Oh my gosh, it is so special, so amazing. All these little outings we have been getting to do are like the cherry on top, with whipped cream on top and then the sprinkles on top of that,” Brown said with a laugh. “It has been all these added bonuses that have really fostered the bonding experiences. It has been so much fun and, honestly, we have been having the best time.
“At every competition the past two years, all the athletes had to stay separate and not be around each other. We were so isolated for so long; so careful, so strict and always so worried about doing anything that could get in the way of us competing, that to be back performing in front of people and have a little more of that shared group experience … just being together again is so incredible.”
Brown is also excited to be performing his “Sinnerman” program on tour, along with a new routine choreographed by long-time collaborator Rohene Ward.
With “the journey” as the theme of this year’s 24-city Stars on Ice tour, each skater/team was asked to choose a piece of music that reflected their own journey through the sport. Brown chose the iconic “I Lived” by OneRepublic.
“We all skate two solos but they wanted us all to choose one program that captures our own experience, our own career, and our own journey,” the 27-year-old explained. “So I chose this piece. It is all about kind of embracing life, the highs and lows, living it all and wearing your heart on your sleeve.
“I feel so grateful, fortunate and lucky to be out there doing what I love and getting to perform the number — especially on a tour where we have not been in front of an audience for so long — just adds to how special it feels to be out there. I love it.”
Ward and Brown revamped his award-winning short program “Sinnerman,” into a show number that Brown feels “is almost even more difficult than the competition version, as Rohene continued to push all the tricks and highlight different moments. That has been the best to perform.
“When Rohene and I created the piece, we envisioned it to be performed in front of an audience. I really did not get the opportunity to do that very much in the past year, so now to be able to do that — it feels great.”