By BRYAN FRANCIS
SPECIAL TO THE
SET TO TCHAIKOVSKY’S lighted-hearted music, “Sleeping Beauty” is a captivating fantasy filled with magic and poetry. And it is a story the Imperial Ice Stars will be telling to Bangkok audiences next month through breath-taking choreography, lavish sets and costumes and imaginative staging.
Widely recognised as the world’s leading theatrical ice dancers, the troupe will once again heat up the stage at the Thailand Cultural Centre with five shows from September 18 to 20 as part of Bangkok’s 17th International Festival of Dance and Music.
Putting 24 world, European and national championship skaters through the paces, director Tony Mercer pushes the boundaries of contemporary ice dancing with exhilarating choreography and visual effects to create a romantic narrative on a frozen theatre stage.
Elegant, sophisticated and adrenaline-charged, his interpretation surprises first with its modern setting and then its twist, which sees the villain of the piece, normally an evil fairy, played instead by a menacing male.
Founded in 2004 by Mercer and producer James Cundall, the Imperial Ice Stars have for the last decade wowed audiences the world over with their stylish interpretations of classics as well as their complex and daring manoeuvres on the ice.
Their previous world tours with “Swan Lake on Ice”, “Cinderella on Ice”, “Nutcracker on Ice” as well as “Sleeping Beauty on Ice” have won them accolades and critical acclaim from audiences at the Royal Albert Hall and Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London to the Esplanade Theatre in Singapore, and from Montreal’s Place des Arts to Johannesburg’s Teatro Montecasino.
In Bangkok, Olga Sharutenko and Egor Chudin play Sleeping Beauty and the Prince respectively with Yahor Maistrou and Alina Saprykina portraying Carrabosse and the Lilac Fairy.
Sharutenko, whose mother was also a leading figure skater, has been on the ice sine the age of six. She and her skating partner joined the Russian National Junior team in 1995 and became Junior World Champions. In 1999, she joined the Russian Ice Stars, performing in “Peter Pan on Ice”, “The Phantom of the Opera on Ice”, “Barnum on Ice” as well as “The Nutcracker on Ice”, in the lead role of Clara. She played Odette in both world tours of “Swan Lake on Ice”, which included a special production for the Royal Albert Hall in London, and most recently has enjoyed playing the role of Drosselmeyer’s assistant in “The Nutcracker on Ice”. In between she found time to appear in ITV’s hit series “Dancing on Ice”, partnering John Barrowman and Keith Chegwin.
Chudin also began skating at a very young age winning numerous competitions including the Cup of Russia, the Finals Cup of Ural and Povoljiay, eventually becoming Champion of Moscow and Champion of Samara. He made his debut with The Imperial Ice Stars in “The Nutcracker on Ice”.
Ukranian by birth, Saprykina has won numerous medals at both junior and senior levels in National Championships and Grand Prix competitions, graduating in 2009 from the Physical State Academy. She joined the Imperial Ice Stars in 2010.
Skating since the age of five, Maistrou has competed in variety of international competitions, World and European Championships before also joining the Imperial Ice Stars in 2010.
Bangkok audiences can expect world-class skating, breath-taking high-speed lifts and throws, aerial gymnastics and other special effects, with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent music as the backdrop.
Staging performances of such magnitude is possible only thanks to sponsorship from Bangkok Bank, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, B Grimm, BMW, Beiersdorf, Crown Property Bureau, Dusit Thani Bangkok, Indorama Ventures, PTT, The Nation Group, Singha Corporation, Thai Airways International, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Ministry of Culture.
ON THE RINK
- “Sleeping Beauty on Ice” will be staged at 7.30pm on September 18 and at 2.30pm and 7.30pm on September 19 and 20 at the Thailand Cultural Centre.
- Tickets are Bt800 to Bt3,000. For details, check www.ThaiTicketMajor.com or call (02) 262 3191.
- For more on the festival, check www.BangkokFestivals.com.