'Evening' Draws Packed Audiences

* Controversy surrounds censorship of whipping scene

Bright Hockey Center played host this weekend to some of the biggest names in ice skating as part of the annual Eliot House spectacular, "An Evening With Champions."

The proceeds of the three packed performances--which drew about 8,000 people--will go to benefit the Jimmy Fund, a supporter of the DanaFarber Cancer Institute.

A. Maggie Pisacane '98, a co-chair of the event, said that although the amount of money raised has not yet been tabulated, organizers were pleased with the event's success. A $60,000 bequest coupled with the proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorship, donations, advertising, silent auction and merchandise could result in a record-breaking year.

"We appreciate all the time and hard work that the skaters put into supporting the Jimmy Fund," Pisacane said.

The event was hosted by Paul S. Wylie '90 and featured many well-known skaters such as Olympic gold medalist Oksana Baiul.

However, a skating pair also caused some controversy this year when they chose to act out a Mongolian tale in which a khan wields a whip while chasing his concubine.


Natalia Mishkutionok, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist, and Craig Shepard altered their routine by removing the prop for later performances after an objection by one of the event's sponsors.

But some of the organizers of the event said the skaters should not have been told to change their routine.

"Any censorship of the artistry of their performances would compromise the integrity of the show," Pisacane said.

Sponsor Mary Godwyn said that during the performance "he was beating her with the whip while she begs for mercy."

She said she and her husband, Chris A. Rich '84, promptly left with their children, 11 and 8 years old.

"We left the performance because of the really out-of-nowhere violent routine," Godwyn said.

She said she found their routine to be completely inappropriate for a benefit show that aims at helping children, particularly following two murders of women in the Boston area.

Godwyn called the National Organization of Women (NOW) and met with the co-chairs of the show, Pisacane and Kurt D. Christensen '98 as well as the skaters.

Godwyn had assumed that the pair was going to perform a different routine or perhaps give a disclaimer to their routine the next night. The routine was altered so that the whip was omitted, although the pair still included a portrayal of some physical abuse in their routine.

Godwyn said that the couple could have chosen a less offensive performance and that she felt "quite purposefully deceived" by the organizers of the event.