||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (January 2012)|
|Full name||Ellen "Rory" Flack|
|Alternative names||Rory Flack Burghart|
|Country represented||United States|
|Home town||San Diego, California|
|Former coach||Robin Cousins
|Skating club||Bristol Blades Academy and Anchorage Figure Skating Club|
Flack was born in Belleville, Illinois, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and San Diego, California. She lived for 15 years in Wasilla, Alaska, and worked as a coach there and in Anchorage, Alaska. She now is living in Philadelphia with her youngest son and fiancé, Roi Mitchell Sr. Ms. Rory as she is known to all is the Skating Director at the Grundy Ice Arena in Bristol, PA.
She is the niece of Roberta Flack. Rory was married to Ralph Burghart seven time Austrian National Figure Skating Champion, from 1992 to 2009. Their oldest son Rendell Burghart is a National competitive tennis player and their younger son, Remington Burghart, is a four-time National ranked competitive figure skater in the United States.
Flack began her skating career at age 5. At age 13, Rory met the pioneer for African Americans in figure skating, Mabel Fairbanks. Mrs. Fairbanks was Rory’s inspiration to continue on after wanting to stop at an early age, due to racism. Two years later, Debi Thomas, Bobby Beauchamp and Rory Flack skated to three medals at the US National Championships. This was the first time three African Americans competed at the Nationals, and they all earned spots on the International team.
In 1991, Rory started her career as a professional figure skater. She moved from California to Cincinnati and skated in the production Broadway on Ice. She choreographed a routine and auditioned and was selected for a solo spot. She heard from fellow skaters about an open professional competition, The US Open Challenge Cup. Advised not to compete by the show producer because she would lose her next gig, Flack kept her eye on her star and entered the competition. She had many friends supporting her. Rory had a great childhood friend who taught her to do a back flip on ice, making her one of three women in the world with this ability. The Competition had two parts for the skaters without a world title. The winner of the Challenge round would advance to the Championship round. The Championship Round was filled with Olympic Champions and World medalists. Performing to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong's “Summertime”, she not only won the Challenge Cup, Rory placed third in the Championship Round, won the Inaugural Golden Blade Award (given to the most artistic skater of the entire Competition) and became the star of Ice Capades.
In 1992, while starring in Ice Capades, Rory took time off from the Tour to compete once again at the US Open. She skated to “Fever” and a 5 minute version of “Am I Blue”, she won the Silver Medal. In September 1993, Rory gave birth to her first son Rendell. Two weeks later she skated as a pair team with her then husband in the opening of the Rockefeller Center.
In 1994, Rory was asked to be in The Nutcracker on Ice. She co-starred as the Sugar Plum Fairy alongside Olympic Champions Oksana Baiul and Brian Boitano. Still driven to win the US Open, she trained daily from 2 am to 4 am. Rory entered the US Open skating as the underdog. This year was different. The reigning World Champion Yuka Sato had entered, so all eyes were on her. Rory performed to Aretha Franklin's "Think" and took first place after the Technical Program. She was in the best shape of her life and doing all of the triple jumps. The question on everyone’s minds was “Could she keep it together?” Rory kept it together and won the 1995 US Open. Shortly after, Rory opened an Figure Skating school in Alaska called Artistry Of Movement Ice Skating Academy. The Academy was created to train grassroots skaters from learning to fall to winning championships. She also continued to perform on national and world television in professional competitions and shows in her free time.
In 1997, Rory gave birth to her second son Remington.
In 2001, Ms. Flack appeared with Aretha Franklin, choreographing one production number and two solos for the event. One week later, Rory was given the honor of accepting The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Sports Foundation on behalf of Mabel Fairbanks. Inspired once again by Mable, Rory founded her production company The Color of Ice Productions.
January 2002 Ms. Flack created, produced and choreographed the first all African American Ice Skating production Ebony on Ice. The production ran for ten weeks at the Legacy Theater in Chicago, where Rory appeared as the headliner with unique guest, Savion Glover, Kenny Gambel and Howard Hewitt to name a few . Later that year she won her second professional title at the American Open Professional Championships.
In 2003, Flack kicked off her revised production of "Soul Spectacular On Ice" AKA "Ebony On Ice" in Florida and Washington, DC, with sold out performances at the Lincoln Theater. The show received rave reviews from the Washington Post with the article initialed, "On Ice, Black Music And Dance Catch Fire" By Natalie Hopkinson, Washington Post Staff Writer, with this opening statement " The ancestors couldn't have foreseen this" and sold out performances a national tour was scheduled. Ms. Flack is currently working on bringing her production of Soul Spectacular On Ice back for the public to enjoy for years to come. Later the same year, Rory appeared as a guest star in Ray Charles' last performance, "A Tribute to Ray Charles on Ice" at the Staples Arena in Los Angeles, California, where the LA time acknowledged Rory for bringing a new "Flavor on Ice".
In 2004, Rory was an Assistant Choreographer for a television production of A Tribute to Earth Wind and Fire on Ice. She also was the Lead Choreographer for two production numbers, two personal solos and a number for Brian Botiano and Brian Orser.
In 2006, She performed in "A Tribute to Wynona Judd". Rory had the honor of skating with Wynona and Naomi singing a duet. She also skated in the last aired Professional Skating Championships Ice Wars USA verses the World. Since then Rory has been performing in countless worldwide television specials and starring in many star-studded galas. All these accomplished without an Olympic or World Medal.
Rory was the first skater to break the barrier[clarification needed] in Professional Figure Skating, she was always told “Rory, no one can make it as a Professional Figure Skater in the World without a National, World or Olympic title”.[attribution needed] She continues to perform all over the world.
Flack competed on the national level of the United States and is the 1986 U.S. Junior Bronze Medalist . She also competed internationally, winning the silver medal at the 1987 Grand Prix International St. Gervais. Her first year as a Championship Lady at the 1987 US National Championships, her performance not only wowed the country but also earned Rory an appearance of with footage on Saturday Night Live, this was the first time a figure skater was on the show. Four years later, Rory was preparing for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. Two months before the qualifying event, she injured her back and could not compete. She retired from competitive skating in the winter 1991. Rory is also a World Professional, US Open Professional Champion and The American Open Champion.
Coaching and choreography career
Flack coached and choreographed in Alaska until 2009, and currently runs the Artistry of Movement Academy in Provo, Utah. She has choreographed and coached for many World and National level figure skaters, among them is Keegan Messing. Rory has been Keegan's choreographer from the beginning of his skating career. Keegan is one of the first Academy members from Alaska. She also coaches Jacquelyn Garces, and her son Remington Burghart to name a few. Ms. Flack currently divides her time coaching between Alaska, New Jersey and Provo, Ut. and offers clinics all over the world.
In 1992, while Ms. Flack was coaching and preparing for her first Professional Championship, she had the honor of replacing Brian Wright as the Director of Choreography at the Indiana World Skating Academy.
In 1993, Flack was sought out by The Seattle Skating Club and hired to help build their basic skills and program as well as to develop the new Olympic Training rink in Lynnwood, Washington.
1994–2008 took Flack and family north to Alaska, when she was hired by the Anchorage FSC to direct and head their Learn to Skate program. One year later Flack founded Artistry Of Movement ISA, and over the next 14 years this training program and the Burghart family hosted skaters from all over the world. Some of these skaters went on to compete in International, Junior Worlds and World Championships.
2009-2013, Ms. Rory moved out of Alaska and down to the lower 48 to Utah. After working the and leaving due to racial discrimination Rory decided to take her show on the road.
2012-2013 After her oldest son graduated from high school and her son went back up to Alaska Rory put all of her things in storage and started to travel the country teaching style, Spins and Choreography. Doing what she loved to do.
Summer of 2013 Rory settled into the east coast launched her company and began directing an Arena in Historic Bristol, PA. and met the man of her dreams.
Ms. Rory is currently working on her recording career. "I have always loved singing and have wanted to record a CD. Getting together with Max-A-Million from Chicago and having a producer/writer is the most exciting feeling. I feel it is never too late to live your dreams."