Preview video of "Cinderella on Ice"
To the uninitiated, ballet on ice may seem a little naff.
For days leading up to Saturday night's premiere of
Cinderella on Ice people openly laughed at my e***ment
and enthusiasm for the coming event.
But those who have discovered the extraordinary
dexterity, grace and power of the Imperial Ice Stars will
know it is, in fact, one of the most exhilarating
entertainment spectacles you will ever witness.
Think of the thrill of watching Olympic figure skating -
the sharp intake of breath every time someone launches
themselves, spinning into the air, spraying ice as they
land at speed - and then multiply by 10.
Skating on a surface just a quarter of the size of a
professional rink, the cast of champion skaters must
avoid staging, scenery and one another while performing
Olympic-standard lifts and jumps.
With more than a dozen skaters on stage at a time, blades
fly perilously close to other performers' heads, as girls
are flung around single-handedly by their athletic
Audible gasps escape from the audience as the Ice Stars
perform seemingly impossible feats - in particular, star
skater Vadim Yarkov, who regularly lifts and balances two
female partners off the ice while continuing to glide
The Ice Stars first introduced New Zealand to ballet on
ice two years ago with their beautiful rendition of Swan
Lake. Saturday night saw them return to Auckland,
premiering their new world tour, Cinderella.
The story is not the most classic interpretation - a
gypsy fortune-teller replaces the fairy godmother and the
Prince is actually the mayor's son - and the first half
caused certain amounts of consternation as people tried
to follow the atypical plot line.
In this version, Cinderella first attracts the Prince's
attention at a ballet recital of Swan Lake, where she is
thrust into the spotlight after the lead dancer - one of
her stepsisters - has an injury.
One couldn't help but wonder whether this additional
scene was really necessary, or simply an excuse to dust
off the old Swan Lake costumes and soundtrack from the
Was it an inside joke for loyal fans who saw the last
show? Or just a spot of blatant cross-promotion?
The second half returned to a more traditional retelling
of the story, with a crystal-encrusted ice skate in place
of the glass slipper. This gave way to one of the most
impressive routines of perfectly balanced one-footed
dances as the town's women came to try on the slipper.
But, in true ballet tradition, the highlight came with
the extended finale, which saw the stage cleared of all
scenery, as the skaters performed the most complex
manoeuvres of the night.
As the cast converged on the stage - a spinning rainbow
of glitter and spandex - there was no denying it was all
a bit camp. Some might say naff. But the Imperial Ice
Stars are nothing to laugh about.