In Swan Lake

22 Jul 10 - Realm, Perth, Australia - Ara Jansen

Take a different look at the story of Swan Lake when it comes to life on ice in Perth next month.

Get ready to see moves which didn't even make the Winter Olympics in Vancouver earlier this year when Swan Lake on ice performs in Perth. The 26 Russian skaters of the Imperial Ice Stars have won accolades for competitive skating and between them have won some 250 competition medals.

One of the show's strengths is using classical style with elements of contemporary ice dance. It's the skaters' experience, daring and fitness which allows them to tell the story of Swan Lake by fusing ice dancing, ballet, gymnastics and acrobatics. Aged between 17 and 34, the skaters are able to execute stunning feats, some seen only in Olympic arenas and others still unnamed and never before seen - not even in Vancouver.

These- skaters execute a show's worth of breathtaking triple flips, triple toe loops, double axels, death spirals, camel spins, aerial gymnastics and lifts in a rink which is only 15 metres by 15 metres. Moves like this are normally done in a space about 60 metres by
60 metres.

With the audience' up chose, what makes the show possible is turning a regular theatre into an ice rink of competition quality. The process begins about 34 hours before the show opens and ends up with three inches of ice which needs to be perfectly maintained for the skaters.

It's a precise process which includes building a baking tray structure on the stage which is lined with pool liner. Fifteen kilometres of pipe is laid in the tray through which flows antifreeze and water. The pipes are chilled to -15C and frost over, after which four tonnes of crushed ice are dropped on top. For the next 14-odd hours it is sprayed every 15 minutes to make sure the thickness and smoothness is perfect.

Widely regarded at the world's foremost creator of contemporary theatre on ice, director Tony Mercer created the imperial Ice Stars' original production of Swan Lake on lce four years ago.

The up-dated two hour production features new sets and costumes, rewrites the story of a princess turned into a swan by a sorcerer's curse and takes contemporary ice dance to a whole new level.

Tchaikovsky debuted. Swan Lake in 1877, for which Tony says the Composer wrote more than three hours of music. Tony decided staging the ice show was a chance to recreate a score which he felt was closer to the composer's intentions.

"In Moscow I read Tchaikovsky's original notes and his notations on the music," explains Tony "There's probably about a 39% alteration to what you might know. For example Tchaikovsky has a prologue which explains how Odette has been cursed. Normally we just know that, but we're using that part."

Swan Lake on Ice runs from August 13 - 22 at Burswood Theatre.
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