Classic spectacle takes thrilling turn on ice

03 Aug 10 - Stirling & Canning Times, Perth, Australia - Christian Wilkinson

THE majesty of Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake and the thrills of dynamic ice dancing will combine when leading world ice dancing company, The Imperial Ice Stars, bring its new production of Swan Lake on Ice to town in August.

With 110 lavish costumes,sumptuous sets by Sydney Olympics opening ceremony wiz Eamon D'Arcy, and 26 skaters with more than 250 top competition medals, this a show that is sure to be a winter spectacle.

The Imperial Ice Stars is a way of life for its 44 dedicated tourers, including married Russian performers Andrei Penkine (Prince Siegfried) and Olena Pyatash (Odile), who tour with their son Devid.

Former champion competitive skater Penkine began skating at the age of three,while Pyatash first stepped into the skates at age five. Penkine said despite its challenging physical demands, and the rock-hard ice surface waiting to greet any mistake, ice dancing was not dangerous for those who knew what they were doing.

"For someone who does not know what they are doing, they may break their neck if they try," he said. Penkine said his love of skating came from his competitive days."I enjoyed it like I enjoyed other sports, like football and hockey, but when I joined this company, I discovered the theatrical side," he said.

The company's last visit to Perth was in 2008, when the opening show of Cinderella on Ice had to be postponed overnight after one of the giant chilling machines malfunctioned with the rink only 90 per cent frozen. Such malfunctions are rare.

The company defied the elements remarkably when it created an outdoor ice rink in 40C heat in Cyprus, just metres from the Mediterranean. "It was as difficult as any sport would be in that temperature, like football," Penkine said. "It was on the beach so I could skate on the ice and then I could go for a swim in the Mediterranean.

Swan Lake on Ice will run at Burswood Theatre from August 13 to 22.

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