When I was very young, maybe 4 or 5, my parents took me to watch Torvill and Dean who came to New Zealand and did their ice skating thing at the Hutt Park Raceway of all places. I also have very vivid memories of Katerina Witt’s ice skating routine to Michael Jackson’s Bad at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
I recall enjoying these. And if the figure skating event is on TV during the Winter Olympics then I’ll probably watch it, though I won’t go out of my way to do so.
The point is, I thought I quite liked ice skating. So when I was offered tickets to Sleeping Beauty on Ice I thought I might enjoy it.
It turns out I have a limited attention span for figure skating.
And I think the reason for this is that there is only really about 6 different moves you can do while ice skating. You can skate forwards slowly, quickly backwards, you can spin with your legs in a variety of poses, you can leap and spin and you can do a variety of the pratfall. Once you’ve seen these done the first time, then the second, then the third, it becomes a bit samey as every routine is just a different combination of the above moves.
Also, as a medium ice skating is tricky. Because I thought I knew the story of Sleeping Beauty but man these guys changed it up. First off the evil fairy was a dude, which is fine, but he was brewing a potion at the beginning. And I don’t remember no potions in sleeping beauty. And because there’s no dialogue, the performers try to communicate what they’re doing through dance. And I’m just not a dance-whisperer. So the explanation for what was going on was lost on me.
Then we moved to the Royal Court where there seemed to be a lot of dancing for the sake of dancing. Now I haven’t been to a lot of ballet, but the performances I have been to, the dancing served to move the plot along as well as presenting us with a visual symphony. At this show, the ice skating performance just seemed to shrug every five minutes and say “well why don’t we have a dance about it?”. Which is maybe the point. But there was no plot advancement happening. And then when it did it wasn’t consistent with what I understood so I got confused all over again. That potion I mentioned above? Yeah that was to poison Sleeping Beauty. I was sure she pricked her finger on a sewing doohickey. But there were no doohickeys.
I’m fairly certain the dancers were very good, so they had that going for them. But ice skating is kind of frictionless ballet isn’t it? And I feel like that gives them an advantage.
The lighting, costuming and set dressing were all magnificent. So that provided a welcome distraction from seeing a group of six people skate in a circular motion for the 4000th time. And the guy who played the evil fairy was certainly a piece of eye candy.
All in all, it wasn’t the best show I’ve been to. Not even close. And I probably won’t be in a rush to return to ice skating. But then as a guy who clearly doesn’t know the story of sleeping beauty that well, who doesn’t seem to like ice skating, I’m not sure I was the target market. Based on the relatively small crowd who did turn out, they were aiming for 6 or 60 year olds.