The Brink of the Rink

30 Jun 10 - Capital times, News Zealand -

WHEN Olga Sharutenko was 11, she was ice-skating six-days a week, for two sessions a day, leaving just enough time for school.

She’s now a world-top ice skater, and will skate in Wellington as Odette, the swan princess, in Swan Lake on Ice.

Sharutenko who is from Russia began skating at age six after encouragement from her parents.

“It’s a famous sport in our country because we have snowy and cold winters, so I was very young when I watched it on TV, and my mum was a figure skater when she was young,” says Sharutenko. “I decided that skating was what I wanted to do, I fell in love with it.”

Although her mum stopped skating, she still had the costumes, and Sharutenko would find them around the house and wistfully imagine wearing them.

Her commitment to ice-skating as a girl meant she did miss out on certain things, but she has no regrets.

“It was an interesting life,” she says. “I do remember times when I couldn’t go to the cinema with my friends, or spend time with them, but every competition gives you so much adrenaline and emotion, you think ‘that was worth it’.”

However, over time the stringent rules of competitions became tiresome, and Sharutenko found another way to enjoy the ice.

She joined theatrical ice-skating company Russian Ice Stars, and later, The Imperial Ice Stars.

“Theatre on ice is something different. You don’t have to follow the rules, and you can be more creative,” Sharutenko says.

The graceful beauty of ice-skating brings more emotion to a production than can be captured with a normal theatre show, she says.

“Everything flows in a slightly different way because of the elements you can create with figure skating – the jumps and the leaps, speed, momentum and movement – you can’t recreate that on a plain floor.”

This Swan Lake on Ice is a new production.

“We want to bring something new to wow the audience again,” says Sharutenko. “It will be interesting, it’s much easier to come back to something you’ve already learned and created. We’re not just figure skaters, we’re performers who have to do a good job of our roles.”

Sharutenko is not afraid of falling over – for her, skating is as second nature as walking.

“You could wake me up in the middle of the night and tell me to skate and I could, I don’t need to think about it, but I do get very nervous before I go onstage,” she laughs. “It’s a new audience, and I worry I won’t be good enough for them to understand my character, but as soon as I get onstage, I feel confident and relaxed.”

Swan Lake on Ice, St James Theatre, July 7-11.

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