Gia Guddat is an artist, performer, choreographer, and creative genius. Her creativity flows from her as naturally as her smile. She has made an incredible pro skating career without having any national, world or Olympic medals, and that is a huge achievement on its own. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Gia on many different levels. As a skater and performer, she brings joy and life to everything she does. As an artist, she not only tie-dyes materials for clothes and skating costumes, but also for furniture. Her work is so phenomenal that she opened her own store (in Sun Valley, Idaho) and website (www.tequilabay.com) to sell it.
Gia grew up in Canada where she received her gold medal in Freestyle and Ice Dancing. She also competed in gymnastics, studied piano and acting, worked as a photographer, and was accepted into film school after high school.
She loved to skate and loved to travel. Her dream of joining an Ice show happened when Olympic champions Torvill and Dean invited her to join them on their world tour. The show was on the cutting edge of choreography and production and received standing ovations and rave reviews from around the world.
Gia moved to Sun Valley, Idaho with her then partner Gary Beacom to skate, choreograph and direct the famous Sun Valley Ice show 15 years ago. The duo created an atmosphere where pro skaters from all over the world were able to come and improve their craft, vacation and perform during the summer months when the other shows were on a break. The team created many memorable routines together that people are still talking about. One major idea that came to life was to skate with 4 skates. One on each hand and one on each foot. The duo traveled the world bringing this creative and very entertaining idea to life. Gia now performs this act on her own to thunderous applause and millions of smiles.
During the winter months Gia travels and choreographs many of the popular tours and television specials. She has performed on the “Champions on Ice Tour,” “German Stars on Ice,” “Phillipe Candeloros European Tour” just to Name a few. She has also been the Director and Choreographer of Nancy Kerrigans Tours and TV shows since 1994. One of her most challenging jobs was working as co- choreographer on Disney on Ice’s “The Little Mermaid.”
Two years ago Gia expanded from choreographing for the Ice to choreographing for the home. Together with her partner Scott Karterman, they opened “Tequila Bay” and “The Crystal Gallery.” The store features very unique eclectic furnishings, fine art and a gallery of museum quality crystals from around the world. Her time at film school has influenced her work on and off the ice.” You learn to see things differently” she states…”the special relationship of things within the picture, where the focus is, where is it going, how things are edited, what the impression is, how the pace of the music connects it together, all these things come into play in my life whether I’m doing a piece of choreography, or designing a space or a garden.”
Gia’s favorite show to be part of is still Sun Valley. She loves to skate outside and work with some of the best skaters in the world.” I think I’ve found Nirvana”,she says, “living in a beautiful part of the country, skating outside in the mountains and doing what I love to do. Skating has enabled me to have a wonderful, creative and exciting life. I think being involved with skating on any level can offer anyone the same experience.”
Next issue look for Craig’s interview with Gia.
Gia Guddat Interview with Craig
Hello Gia. We have been friends for a long time now and I am excited to be able to interview you for this newsletter. Have fun with the questions!
CH: Tell me a little bit about your history as a skater. Where you grew up, who you trained with, your education, etc..
GG: I grew up just outside of Toronto, Ontario Canada. My mom is from Ireland and my Dad is from Germany. I skated for fun, like every other kid in Canada. My two brothers also skated. I had a lot of energy and participated in many after school activities, including music, gymnastics soccer and diving. Eventually I ran out of time for everything, so I focused more on skating. I had one lesson in figures, freestyle and dance per week, so I had a lot of free time to develop my own style. We did not have choreographers at our rink. We had an ice show every other year at our club. It was everyone’s highlight. I loved every minute of it. One year a guest skater named Gary Beacom performed in the show. I was inspired by his unusual style. I wrote to him over the years and we eventually hooked up. We started a partnership on and off the ice that would last for 16 years. We trained in the Toronto area and we were members of the Cricket club. Most of our time involved going to University and skating. I was working on a degree in Fine Art with a focus on film.
CH: You are a fantastic example for making a career out of skating even though you did not have a world or Olympic medal. I find that to be incredibly inspirational. I know that you toured with the most prestigious skating tour around as well. How did you manage to do this? What would you tell others to inspire them to do the same thing?
GG: Gary was still competing in Amateur skating and getting more and more frustrated with it. I was enjoying skating more and more and working hard on improving. I was always more interested in the creative side. I did not have any Olympic dreams, so I didn’t have any big disappointments. I got out of skating what I put into it. I was more into the process than the goal at the end. I did think of joining a show one day and traveling the world. I thought it would be fun, but I didn’t think of that as a career. Eventually Gary had all he could take in Amateur skating. He turned pro when Ice Dancing legends Torvill and Dean asked him to be part of their world tour. I went to visit him during the rehearsals. I started helping the crew make props and costumes and did some photography for the show. Then, because of my gymnastics background I was asked to do a flying act. Soon everyone there realized that I could also skate and eventually I ended up in the skating part of the show. This was a very unusual start to a skating career. I think that if you work hard at something you are always ready when an opportunity presents itself. Its also important to do the small jobs that one day might lead to something bigger. You can’t always start on top.
CH: Tell me about being the Sun Valley Ice show choreographer/director. How long did you do this for? What was is like in the beginning?
GG: I came to Sun Valley for a vacation and once again I ended up skating in the Ice Show. Gary and I also created some new routines that the audience loved. Much to our surprise we were asked to choreograph and direct the show. We took the show to a new level artistically and made it into a production. We made skaters audition, in order to bring the quality up, I created a new theme for the show each year, choreographed the production numbers and designed costumes for the cast. I think all my years of film production were starting to pay off. Doing a production or creating choreography is very much like making and editing a film. Gary was more into his own skating than the production end so I took over all the responsibility for the show. For 15 years I was able to create unique and entertaining productions. Every show I perform in or choreograph or direct teaches me something new. If you’re not learning or changing you’re not growing.
CH: I know that you have choreographed for Disney on Ice and for Nancy Kerrigan as well. What inspires you to be so creative?
GG: I think everyone is really an artist, because art is really how you see life. I’m lucky to be in a position were I can create things for the general public and be entertaining and creative. This was especially the case with Nancy Kerrigans productions and Disney on Ice. There was a team of people to work with to help bring the ideas to life. Ideas can come from anywhere at any time. The most important thing about successful choreography is to have a sense of your audience and what you want to say to them.
CH: Where do you want to go with your skating or choreographing now?
GG: In the future, I would like to focus on designing entire productions,… especially for the camera. I think there are new ways in which to develop the perception of skating. The competition format is wearing thin on people and they are losing interest.
I still enjoy performing myself and I have some unique and different programs that I’m working on.
CH: I have been to your beautiful store on Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho. What a job that must be! Tell me about the store and how it came to be.
GG:I have a store on Main Street that offers unique eclectic home furnishings, gifts, art and crystals of the world. The store came about as an extension of my home. I love art, decorating, creating an atmosphere and traveling. I was fortunate enough to meet someone who shared the same passions. Together we created the store and the business. We also got married during this process. Skating taught me how to work hard and also as a team to create a vision. The store came about much the same way I choreograph a show. Most of the elements are the same. The name Tequila Bay came from a beautiful bay in southern Mexico, were we spend a lot of our time working with artists to create our designs. We love the colorful festive atmosphere of Mexico and you can feel that when you enter the store. The Crystal Gallery on the other half of the store is a magical meditative atmosphere that takes you back in time. Its very yin and yang.
CH: For many years, skaters have delighted in your tie-die materials. I have used many of your fabrics for my skating outfits as well. How did you get into this? How can people order the materials? Do you have a website?
GG: I have been creating fabrics since high school. I always wanted something unique, so I would make it myself. Everyone wanted some so I started a design business. The great think about doing the costumes is that they can work with the music and the choreography. I focus on the color and the flow. I like to work in silks and velvets. I have a barn in my backyard were I dye all the materials. I also do home furnishings and a new line of Dog fashions. Visit our Web sight at www.tequilabay.com
CH: I know that your past partner Gary Beacom went to jail for tax evasion and is now banned from entering the United States. How has this impacted your life?
GG: It was a difficult time in my life. I tried everything in my power to get him to pay his taxes. I realize now that you can’t change someone else, no matter how hard you try. There are also some things that you can never get over, all you can do is move on. For a while I felt like I was missing an arm. We had performed together for so many years. I was glad that I developed myself as a solo artist and a choreographer so my career wasn’t over when he left. It was an exhausting ordeal to go through the investigation, the end of our relationship and career together, the trial and his eventual incarceration and deportation. When one door closes another opens. My life now is better than I could ever have imagined it would be.
CH: What inspires you on a daily basis? I mean, what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?
GG: To get up in the morning, be with people I love, take care of my animals, look at the mountains, be creative live in the most beautiful part of the world and have created a space and a life that revolves around those people, places and activities I love is truly inspirational.
Thank you Gia. You inspire me all the time and it was an honor to interview you. I wish you continued success in your career and your life.