For every skater, it has to start somewhere. For many of us, the dream begins at the Ice Show. I clearly remember my mother packing my two sisters and me into the car for the drive from Lansing, Michigan to Detroit to see the Ice Follies- starring Peggy Fleming. The old Olympia Stadium was packed to the rafters. When the music started and the lights came on, there she was, the most beautiful vision on ice I had ever seen. I wanted to be just like Peggy, and for the next 12 years I devoted my life to the sport of figure skating.
On Tuesday, young skaters of all levels got their first taste of the big time at the Colonial Figure Skating Club in Acton. Three stars from Disney on Ice held a special workshop that was run like a true audition. Skaters of all levels practiced marching with “Mickey arms,” performed one-foot glides with “Aladdin arms,” and did two-foot spins with “Ursala arms.” Judging by the smiles on their faces, some future stars were born.
The workshop was organized by skating coach and former Disney on Ice performer, Sarah Rosenfield.
“It’s a way to get our younger skaters to see there are other options besides the Olympics, and hopefully they will stay with the sport,” said Rosenfield.
The Colonial Figure Skating Club has sent 30 skaters to Disney on Ice. 1980 Olympian Sheryl Franks performed with Disney for four years with her pair partner, Michael Botticelli. She said she remembers those days as the best of her skating career. Now as a coach, she reminds her students that all skating dreams don’t have to be the Olympic kind.
“The Olympics are great, but only about 12 kids in a gazillion get to go,” said Franks. “In the show, you have 10 performances a week to perfect your routines. In competitive skating you get one shot. You’ve got that one four and half minute program, and if you ain’t good, you’re done. The show was the best Michael and I ever skated.”
The two principle skaters from the current production of Disney On Ice demonstrated how to do the “princess pose” and talked about their own childhood memories of seeing the ice shows.
Maria Simoni plays Tinkerbell in Disney on Ice presents Rockin' Ever After. Simoni said she understands what an impact just one performance can have on a young skater.
“You remember when you were that age, looking up to the people that were in the shows,” Maria said. “I remember going to my first Disney Show, and now I get to do that for them, and that’s really rewarding.
The ice show is not all glamor. The traveling can be grueling, and getting homesick is not uncommon.
“I missed being at home, I missed birthday parties and christenings,” said Franks. “I missed my family a lot. Then I would come home at Christmas and look around at what all my friends were doing and say to myself, ‘Hey, my life is pretty cool.'"
Franks joked that she would still be in the show today if she could “make weight.” In many ways, it is the dream job for anyone who has spent most of her life in skates.
“How many people get to travel the world, skate, and enjoy it?" she said.
I never did skate in the show. After the Olympics, it was right to college, and after college, it was right to work in the field of television. I think I would have loved it though. The costumes, the audience, the lights- and best of all no judges!
Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After will be performed at the Boston Garden Feb. 15 through Feb. 24.
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