A summer Winterland

The Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice will be offering us a nice cool break this summer with a production of ‘The Nutcracker on Ice.’

The Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice performs ‘The Nutcracker on Ice’ (photo credit: VLADIMIR SMIRNOV)
The Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice performs ‘The Nutcracker on Ice’
(photo credit: VLADIMIR SMIRNOV)
Smack in the middle of Israel’s sweltering summer, as temperatures outside soar toward 40 degrees (100-plus Fahrenheit), a number of halls in Israel will be transformed into wintertime in preparation for the Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice’s performances of The Nutcracker on Ice.
The shows combine artistic ice skating with classic ballet choreography.
During the hottest season of the year, there’s nothing more enticing than entering a cool theater to watch a classical ballet that’s performed entirely on a real ice surface. This means that the entire hall is kept at arctic temperatures and The Nutcracker on Ice show includes all the familiar symbols of the European winter-time: snow, glittering lights and the holiday atmosphere.
All of these, and more, will be waiting for viewers who come to watch The Nutcracker on Ice performed by the Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
The first few performances will take place at the Karmiel Dance Festival. The performance will then tour the country, performing in Rehovot, Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba. A few special final performances will take place at the Tel Aviv Opera House, accompanied by the Haifa Symphony Orchestra.
The famous Russian choreographer Konstantin Boyarsky founded the Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice in 1967. The idea was to bring the skating rink into the theater, which requires the dancers to perform all the movements, leaps and turns on a relatively limited surface that does not allow them to gain momentum, and also necessitates that they perform at a very high skill level.
The result has been the creation of a new genre which preserves the classic aspects of ballet – such as sets, costumes and music, but adds new dynamics, showmanship and vibrancy – that are typical of artistic ice skating.
To this day, the Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice is the only company in the world that (Vladimir Smirnov) out & about highlights dining events movies television 5 performs classical ballet on ice.
The Nutcracker is a Christmas legend that is popular among audiences worldwide. According to theater general director Mikhail Kaminov, the show has been a hit throughout Europe and North America, especially around Christmastime.
More than 40 ice dancers – all of whom are former international skating champions – perform this charming production of The Nutcracker to the enchanting music of Tchaikovsky, with beautiful sets hand-painted by artists, creative vibrant costumes, special effects – including spectacular lighting – and even real snowflakes that gently flitter down onto the dancers. All of these will undoubtedly make the performance a cool and thrilling spectacle.
The Nutcracker is one of the most popular shows performed by the Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice,” says Kaminov. “The story recounted in the ballet takes place Christmas Eve. This year marks 125 years since the music’s premiere performance, which is very exciting.”
The original story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” which was written by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann, tells about a girl named Clara, whose parents give her a small nutcracker doll made of tin in the shape of a soldier, as a Christmas present. Clara’s brother is very jealous of her and so he snatches the nutcracker and breaks it. Clara cries and falls into a deep sleep. She wakes up to find that she’s shrunken in size, and then suddenly, through a hole in the wall, a bunch of huge mice and rats burst into her room, led by a menacing Rat King who tries to kill Clara and her nutcracker. At the end of the heroic musical battle, the two are saved. The nutcracker then turns into a real live prince and marries Clara in a spectacular wedding celebration.
The Nutcracker is full of beautiful dance routines and music that has become extremely popular over time, even to people who haven’t seen the ballet. The combination of classical ballet movements, with the jumps and twists that are possible only when skating on ice, make for a unique production that keeps people of all ages riveted to their seats.
Kaminov was born in Saint Petersburg, and has been directing the theater for many years now. He himself was a figure skating champion before he moved into theater. “My wife was also a champion ice skater,” he tells us proudly.
Kaminov is no stranger to Israel. The director is Jewish and has been here many times visiting relatives. The Saint Petersburg State Ballet on Ice has visited Israel twice, performing Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, which all sold out and received rave reviews.
“It’s not simple to bring our shows to Israel. For many years producers have been pressuring me to bring the ballet on ice to Israel and I always agreed. I love Israel and have relatives who live here,” says Kaminov. “But the complex technical problems involved in creating an ice stage and providing the necessary conditions, caused everyone to give up the idea. Then Gennady Kosnowski came along and succeeded in bringing the theater to Israel in cooperation with the Karmiel Dance Festival.”
Performing classical ballets on ice on theater stages means that ice stages have to be created, a complicated technical feat that incurs considerate costs. This also means that rooms are kept at extremely low temperatures, and viewers should make sure to bring warm clothing to the show, even though it’s summertime outside.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.