Watching Russian dancers perform acrobatics wearing skates on an ice rink at a picturesque location seems to be surreal in this sweltering heat. But I got a chance to experience this extravaganza titled Snow White On Ice at Aamby Valley as part of its latest entertainment programme, Broadway Delight.
Once at the venue, my first entry into Sahara’s planned city was delightful. We freshened up before moving to the Conclave Auditorium where a Russian ice-skating (read acrobat cum ballet cum ice skating) performance was about to begin.
An ice-skating rink is made up of convoluted pipes which are filled with crushed ice inside and outside, taking 12 hours to freeze and forms the required seven-centimetre slab.
As the curtains are drawn, the show’s narrator, a fairy god mother walks in explaining the birth of Snow White and the celebrations that have been arranged. ‘You have been invited,’ she says before scurrying into the dark.
The performance follows the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, save for one difference. Everyone is on ice-skates, and they know acrobatics and ballet! In the first scene, the performers belly dance on skates, do aerial jumps, fire poi and swirl like a whirlpool without breaking a bone! What other acts can these super flexible, fit and good-looking Russians whip up? In glides Drina, the cruel and ugly witch — dressed in a black and red cloak dress, and she takes the audience’s breath away as she swirls around the stage with harsh movements, emoting jealousy and hatred towards Snow White while plotting her death. As she circles around a boiling pot, the attention falls on the smoke and fire crackers, and poof! A beautiful Drina jumps before you. The audience applauds! The lights, graphic stage and music amplify the effects.
The rest of the show continues with claps and cheer, as Snow White is discovered by two birds. It’s the cutest act followed by the entry of the Seven Dwarfs, who are at least 5 feet 10 inches in height! Their uncoordinated moves, ragged costumes and fun-loving nature add a cheerful mood to the theatrical. The crow, who Drina sends to trace Snow White, is a winner with his strong, measured circling moves. The effortless, neat and well practised lifts are the show’s highlights.
While Snow White is graceful, she contradicts Drina’s sharp finishes. We all know how it ends, with Prince Charming (really charming) kissing her, but before that there are dramatical acts. One lift involves a dancer hanging on the aerial rope by her waist, as another dancer hangs holding her hand. As you can see each muscle flex, you know that you will go back for the ongoing Cirque de Glace.
Talking about Cirque de Glace which is on till April 17 and open for public (see box), Claire Bournet, production manager at Deplidge Productions, UK, says, “It is based on the earth’s evolution.” While the rehearsals for a show usually take two weeks, conceptualising and executing a whole new show takes five weeks, she tells us, as a technician in the background is raking the snow formed on the skating rink. “We then splash a new layer of water which will form clean ice to perform on.”