True Art

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Telling different stories about our and not our adventures in the world of figure skating we often say “ballet on ice”. To be more precise  we mention sport ballets on ice, one of the interesting kind of FS. There are a lot of sport ballets on ice, especially for kids, teenagers and adults. There are sport ballets in Russia but most of them are abroad.  From my point of view  ballet is really something different from sport ballet on ice programmes. They are good and interesting, but ballet is something grand and perfect, isn’t it?  For me ballet associates with classical music, libretto, pure lines of soloists and the corps.

It doesn’t lessen the work of sport ballets on ice in no case, though there are a lot of things that ballet dancers could teach us, figure-skaters.  And sport ballets on ice are really special and unique phenomenon in sport life.

I like figure skating, it is beautiful in all aspects, especially when it is marked with talent.  But for me for the recent time it lacked  perfection of ballet to make figure skating not only sport but a true art. And I think I have found this missing part.

I ran into it looking through Instagram feeds.  I couldn’t take my eyes away it seemed really impossible. I saw a true BALLET on ice! I was watching one video after another and it was so beautiful! It was the State Ballet on Ice from Saint Petersburg! And it is the only one Ballet on Ice in the world! Have you ever heard about it? I – never! And if I have, the first thing I would do planning a trip to Petersburg I bought tickets to icy “Swan Lake” or “Sleeping Beauty”- yes, they have these masterpieces in their list.  

The corps of the State Ballet on Ice perfoming «Swan Lake»

The State Ballet on Ice was created in 1967 by Russian choreographer Konstantin Boyarski. Now the Ballet is headed by Konstantin Rassadin, ex-soloist of the Mariinsky theatre.  Feel it? Ballet base. The outstanding skaters Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov used to perform in the State Ballet on Ice!

We know that FS profs often work with ballet dancers and choreographers. Russian ballet has   long traditions and wide reputation, ballet dancers are often unique masters and figure skaters need their assistance.

Why was I so impressed by video taken by a spectator during the performance of “Swan Lake”? I just saw ballet with practically only one difference: shoes off – skates on. And it turned to be enough. The performances of the State Ballet on Ice are almost the same with classical ballet: classical librettos, tutus, adagios and variations. Of course it is adapted in some way for skating but it is the only one difference. A spectator who comes to ice show usually sees a big arena with audience around the rink, light and sounds effects and other show attributes,  here in the State Ballet on Ice a spectator comes to the theatre with a stage and curtains. And the main effect is skating and performing.  

White adagio from «Swan Lake». The State Ballet on Ice, Saint Petersburg.

Theaters on Ice, Holidays on Ice show, Disney show and others are shows with ballet names with awarded figure skaters performing. They gathers crowds of people they make the show. Even the corps of such shows consist of high-level athletes: ex-competitive skaters.  But these brilliant masters are not used to team skating. To be a team people work for years.

In the State Ballet on Ice there are also soloists with a small army of fans. But the corps is  absolutely necessary part   of the performance.  Famous parts of classical ballets such as “Shadows” from “La Bayadere” or swans dances form “Swan Lake” are performed by the corps in skates on the stage and it is breathtaking view! If we compare figure skating and ballet we’ll see that single skaters, pairs or dance skaters are like soloists and the corps are very close to synchro skating – pure lines and coherence dominate there as well as in classical dances of the corps.  There are a lot of the corps dancers who confessed that they never wanted to be soloists because they were attracted by a mass scenes of classical ballet, when you could be a part of big body working as a whole and creating a stunning view.  It is difficult to be a soloist but to be in the corps is not easier it is really complicated collaboration of efforts and moves.

I think the State Ballet on Ice from Saint-Petersburg realizes the idea of pure and true art on ice that combines perfectly sport skills and cultural heritage of classical ballet. They do complicated collaboration work demanding teaching and learning. It would be great if skaters for Ballet on Ice are taught from early childhood like small ballerinas. We need special schools for such unique dancers. I would like the State Ballet on Ice from Petersburg to become famous like the Mariinsky  and the Bolshoi Theatres !  Now I feel pity that most figure skaters have never even heard about it.  But we have filled the gap a little, haven’t we?

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