Often, when I watch Olympic stars compete, I wonder what they do when there is
no big event to prepare for. Obviously, athletes train year round, keeping
themselves in the best of shape.
But in the four-year gap between
competitions, they must have other ways of keeping busy.
In recent years,
ice skaters have come to perform in productions, most notably Disney on Ice,
which will tour in Israel later this month.
In these shows, audiences can
see their favorite competitors from the Olympics up close, gliding to familiar
tunes. Here, there are no scores for perfect execution but rather stories that
children and adults know and love.
For those who prefer The Nutcracker
The Little Mermaid
, The Imperial Ice Dancers offer the chill of the ice with the
elegance of ballet. Next week, the Moscowbased Imperial Ice Stars will perform
Swan Lake at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. They will then perform in
Jerusalem and Haifa.
In the past, The Imperial Ice Stars have taken on
beloved ballets such as The Nutcracker
and Sleeping Beauty. Their
productions are always grandiose, bringing overthe- top glamour to stages around
the world. What sets The Imperial Ice Stars apart from other ice dance companies
is their close tie with ballet technique. Watching them pirouette, it is easy to
forget the clunky boots on the performers’ feet and to image that they are
weightlessly flying through the air.
The stars of the company are men and
women who have spent the better part of their lives on the ice. Nearly all these
performers began skating at an early age, some as young as four, and continued
to hone their skill through years of tireless training.
Today, as a
company, they work as a solid unit, supporting one another on and off of the
When Tony Mercer, artistic director of The Imperial Ice Stars, first
decided to reinterpret Swan Lake
, he embarked upon a journey into the strange
history of the ballet. Tchaikovsky, it turns out, worked separately from
choreographer Julius Reisinger, which was very uncommon. The 1877 Russian
premiere of the ballet left many audience members confused.
1895, Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov reworked the choreography, making Swan Lake
one of the most cherished ballets of all time.
Of his inspiration for
this production, Mercer said, “Inspired by my research into Tchaikovsky’s
original score and intentions for the story, I wanted to create a more realistic
interpretation of this much-loved tale and transpose it onto ice, creating a new
art form in the process… ice dance in a full theatrical setting. I always felt
it was a natural fit, to have swans gliding on ice.”
Mercer began his
career as a technical crew member for artists such as Dionne Warwick and The
Supremes. In 1993, he was invited to join the production team of the Wild Rose
Ice Theater. One year later, Mercer directed his first ice show, Summer Ice
Spectacular. In 2004, after directing a long list of shows, he founded The
Imperial Ice Stars.
The chilled-out version of Swan Lake
than 100 costumes designed by famous Russian costume designer of the
Stanislavsky Theater, Albina Gabueva. Once sketched, the designs were taken to
the heart of the ballet world to be cut by the seamstresses and tailors of the
Bolshoi Ballet. And there are more than 150 lighting cues in the
Unlike virtually every other production of Swan Lake
, tons of ice
are required for each performance of The Imperial Ice Stars. While the skaters
warm up their muscles, 18 trained technicians focus on keeping things as cool as
possible. To set up the ice rink properly, the technicians spend two days
meticulously transforming theater spaces before each engagement.
step of the process must be executed perfectly; otherwise, the performers would
have to swim through the scenes.
This element, along with an endless list
of other technical supplies, spare ice skates, props, costumes and cast members,
have traveled around the world multiple times since the show’s premiere in
2007.Swan Lake on Ice will run from September 17 to 21 at the Tel Aviv
Performing Arts Center, on September 23 and 24 at the Jerusalem Theater, and on
September 26 and 27 at the Haifa ‘Convention Center. For more information, visit
www.imperialicestars.com. ‘ dance
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