Rising from the grave:  Spirit of Cannuscio and McManus comes alive 

26 Oct

By Lynn Rutherford

When Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus took the ice for their free dance at Skate America on Saturday, they sported a Level 4 make-up job.

The University of Delaware of skaters aren’t playing zombies or vampires in their Danse Macabre program. They’re just dead.

“Midnight comes along, and all the spirits come alive to dance the night away and party,” Cannuscio said. “That’s very much the story of our choreography. We come out of the grave, and in the end we have to return to the grave before the sun comes up.”

So, how to play dead, without looking too ghoulish?


Cannuscio and McManus began their quest at Champs Camp in August, where celebrity make-up artist Robin Black delivered tips on looking ghostly, including dark contouring and smoky eyes.

The make-up maestro may have done her job too well. Feedback from judges and officials at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, where Cannuscio and McManus won bronze in September, said it looked a bit too realistic.

“We heard things like, ‘You really do look like you just climbed up out of your grave,’” McManus said.

Next, the duo turned to artists from University of Delaware’s theater department, as well as Delaware’s First State Ballet.

“They helped us tone it down a bit,” McManus said. “Now, we’re wearing a kind of light application of white powder.”

“When people tell me I look a little pale and tired, I just say, ‘Thank you,’” Cannuscio added.

Of course, makeup isn’t uppermost in the team’s concerns. Partners since 2008, they placed seventh in the U.S. last season after two consecutive sixth-place finishes.

Seeking some fresh input, they traveled from Delaware and coaches Karen Ludington and Sasha Kirsanov to Quebec for a month this summer, to train under two-time Canadian World silver medalists Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.

“In Delaware, we train alone,” McManus said. “It was great to get on the ice with other teams, like Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz (Spain), plus teams from Denmark, France and Canada.”

Both Cannuscio and McManus were a bit star-struck at first.

“I’ve been such a huge fan of Marie and Patch (Patrice) for such a long time,” McManus said. “I watched their Somewhere in Time free dance a million times. It was really great that (Ludington and Kirsanov) said, ‘Please go, get that fresh intake, train with other teams – that’s something that cannot be provided for you here right now.”

The married Dubreuil and Lauzon, who won two World silver medals, were noted for their romantic on-ice chemistry and high performance quality throughout their careers. Cannuscio and McManus absorbed as much of that as possible.

“Marie really taught me how to grab my skirt, work it and stamp my feet in the paso doble,” Cannuscio said.

“Patrice was so macho on the ice, he always played the strong, romantic lead so well, and I took as much information from him as I could get,” McManus said. “The feedback has been super positive; we’re hearing (from U.S. judges and officials) these are the best two programs we’ve ever put together.”

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