Review By Selwyn Manning
(info courtesy of International Concert Attractions, photographs courtesy of Jon Green.)
With a cast of Russian ice-skating champions, plus rhythmic gymnastics Olympic 2000 Gold Medallist Ioulia Barsoukova, Nutcracker on Ice presents world championship athleticism, classic fairytale magic, and the timelessness of Tchaikovsky.
Friday’s opening premiere (September 5 2003) of Nutcracker On Ice at Auckland’s majestic Civic Theatre was breathtaking from beginning to end. To the sounds of Silent Night, a packed house was soon transported to another time, Christmas Eve, Russia in the palatial home of the Romanovs.
From the first-act Christmas Eve party to the spectacular finale, Nutcracker On Ice brought all ages to a single place of enjoyment.
The champion ice dancers bring a flair to Nutcracker that goes beyond the possibilities of traditional dance. Choreographer , Valeri Petcherski, himself an acclaimed soloist ballet dancer, has brought humour, mystique and championship Ice Dancing technique (with Olympic standard triple throw axels and lifts) to the classic-fairytale stage. The merge is a presentation of colour, spice, exoticism and innocence.
The tale goes like this: “We can all remember the first time as children we were transported into the magical world of the fairytale, The Nutcracker. This enchanting story follows the young and beautiful Maria as she embarks on a Christmas Eve adventure with her Nutcracker Doll. The transformation of the Doll into a handsome Prince is enough to excite and intrigue every child's imagination. Ballet and music lovers all over the world have flocked to see productions of this love story time and time again…”
The overview proves true, my family is returning tonight to see the show for a second time.
The show’s 26 Russian Ice Stars (see cast list below) boast over 200 competition medals in Olympic, World, European and National Championships. They will perform stunning skating feats within the confines of the theatre stage, including triple flips, triple toe loops, double axels, death spirals, camel spins, Bielmanns, triple throw axels and lifts galore as part of their unique style of theatre on ice. Foremost among the Russian Ice Stars is the sensational talent of Ioulia Barsoukova, the gold medallist in gymnastics from the Sydney 2000 Olympics. When Ioulia heard about the exciting presentational style of Wild Rose Ice Theatre, she approached the artistic director Tony Mercer to join the company. Mercer was keen to develop the concept and combine Ioulia's gold medal gymnastic skills with the excitement and challenges that the ice could offer.
A tremendous amount of technical expertise and effort goes into the preparation of the solid ice rink on stage to ensure the best possible conditions for the ice stars. Some 14 tons of ice, over 15 kilometres of refrigeration pipes and 2,500 litres of anti-freeze are used, and the whole process takes almost 36 hours to create.
While the majority of the cast normally reside in Moscow and St Petersburg, the Russian Ice Stars have been on the road with the production since September 2002, on an extensive sell-out tour of the UK. The Nutcracker On Ice marks the first visit to New Zealand by the Russian Ice Stars. So if you want to be entertained, dazzled, heartened, then don’t miss Nutcracker On Ice at Auckland’s Civic Theatre.
Pure escapism, pure enjoyment, fantastically athletic, simply superb.
Auckland Booking Details
Dates: September 5 - September 14, 2003
Prices: From NZ$49 to NZ$69 plus Booking Fee where applicable
How to Book:
At the age of 9, Ioulia was invited to join the Russian National Gymnastics Team and began training 7 hours a day,7 days a week under the renowned USSR coach Irina Vinir. At the age of 18, Ioulia competed internationally for the fist time at the European Championships in Budapest, Hungary where she took the gold medal in the rope discipline and bronze medals in the hoop and ball disciplines. In 1999, Ioulia travelled to Osaka, Japan to compete in the World Championships and took gold in the team competition and bronze in the all-round and rope disciplines. At the 2000 European Championships in Zuragossa, Spain, she became the overall European Champion in team disciplines as well as ball, hoop and rope disciplines. During the same year, Ioulia became World Champion at the World Championships in Japan. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Ioulia won the gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics. In 2001, Ioulia was awarded the Presidential 'Order of Honour' for her contribution to Russian sport. In 2001 she was also honoured as 'Athlete of the Year' at the World Sports Awards. At the end of 2001, Ioulia retired from competitive rhythmic gymnastics and commenced her figure skating training, marrying the two disciplines into a new entertainment genre.
Anjelika Krylova - Featured Artist Born in Moscow, Anjelika started at music school at the age of six, but not content to sit motionless at the piano all day, she decided to take up ice skating. Since then she has achieved an outstanding career, with numerous gold and silver medals at the highest international level. With her skating partner Oleg Ovsiannikov she won the Russian National Championships in 1994,gained 2nd place at the European Championships in 1996 and 1997,and went on to take first place at the European Championships in 1999. After skating together for just four years, Krylova and Ovsiannikov cemented their place on the world ice dancing stage by winning the silver medal at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and later that year becoming World Champions. In 1999 they again took 1st place on the podium at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland,1st place at the Grand Prix Final in St Petersburg,1st place at the European Championships,1st place at the Russian Nationals, 1st place at the Cup of Russia, and 1st place at the Nations Cup, Germany. In the 2001-2002 season Anjelika and Oleg won 1st place at the Professional Figure Skaters Championship and 1st place at the American Open. Anjelika has lived in Newark USA since 1995,and joins the Russian Ice Stars for their inaugural tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Maria Orlova - Maria Maria was born in Moscow and has been with the Russian Ice Stars since 1995.She began skating at the age of five after watching it on television and deciding that was what she wanted to do with her life. She went on to become champion of Moscowin 1988 and also won 1st place in the Russian National Cup. Amongst her varied medal collection is a bronze medal from the 1988 Junior World Championships. After turning professional, Maria joined the Russian Ice Stars and has played lead roles in Carmen, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Phantom of the Opera on Ice and Sleeping Beauty On Ice.
Vadim Yarkov - Nutcracker Soldier/Prince/Mouse King Now in his eighth year with the Russian Ice Stars, Vadim who began his career at the age of seven, has an international Master of Sport degree. As a member of the USSR national team in skating he won the Russian Championship Cup each year from 1991-1995, achieved 3rd place in the Kirov International Trophy tournament in 1992,4th place in the Alps Cup in Germany in 1994,4th place at the Asian Championships in Beijing in 1994 and 1st place at the International Grand Prix in North Korea in 1995.Vadim has also performed in California in 'Moscow on Ice'.
Valeri Petcherski - Choreographer
Valeri Petcherski attended the ballet
academy Vaganovay in St Petersburg before joining the
Mussorgski Ballet Company as a soloist dancer. During his
time as a dancer he also completed his ballet Masters course
and went on to stage his first productions of Esmerelda and
Preval Kavelesi, both famous Russian ballets. After
finishing his dancing career Valeri joined the Russian and
Soviet national ice skating team as a choreographer/coach.
During his 10 years with the team, one of his pupils, Alexei
Urmanov, gained a gold medal in the 1992 Albertville
Olympics. Valeri's other pupils, Yeltsova/Bushkov gained a
gold medal at the World Championships and Seleznova/Makarov
enjoyed a European gold medal. In 1996, Valeri was invited
to choreograph Carmen On Ice for Wild Rose and since then
has also choreographed Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Peter
Pan for the exciting Russian Ice Stars alongside the Italian
choreographer Guiseppe Arena.