I fell into (literally and figuratively)
doing ice shows. While working down at Disney World, I began to
take ice skating lessons. Coming from a small town, I thought it
quite the novelty to be somewhere with an ice rink that was open
year round, least of all in the Florida summer heat. I wasn't sure
what I would do with the skill, but my partner's wife was an ice
skating instructor, so I took the opportunity to learn a bit.
couple of years later, I got a call from a production company that
did ice shows in theme parks all around the country. They had gotten
my name from a couple of unrelated referrals as a juggler that worked
on ice! That wasn't how I saw myself, as I had never performed on
ice before, so I asked where they had heard that. Sure enough, my
friends down in Florida had recommended me, so I took a fill in
spot working in Cincinnati for the summer.
I am a pretty good skater - for a normal
person. But, put me on stage with former Olympians and I don't look
so good... It quickly became clear that it would be best for me
to present my act wearing cleats rather than skates. This was fine
with me because it gave me the opportunity to use the ice for slides
in the choreography.
I had a great time that summer, and was asked
back the next year for two other productions. After the third, I
was asked back to perform in a fourth production at the Busch Garden's
ice show. Unfortunately, I had to turn that one down because I needed
to go back and finish my degree. It would have been fun to have
been in the same show that my wife had worked as a costumer several
In all, I enjoyed over one thousand performance
between the three productions.
Of all of the shows that I have been involved
with, I think the ice shows were among my favorites. It was a great
situation to be a variety act. The shows were short, and comprised
of only five acts. There were two skating numbers, the variety spot,
followed by two more skating numbers. The audience had seen just
enough ice skating by the time I took the stage, that they welcomed
juggling as a change of pace.
The rinks were VERY small. No for me, since
I didn't work on skates, but for the poor skaters. They would have
to do their routines very slowly, while constantly turning to switch
directions. One mistake and you are out of the show,literally, because
you would find yourself sitting on somebody's lap in the audience!
As a soloist, I had more freedom to improvise
and connect with the crowd, so I tried to draw on some of my street
performing experience to lighten up the show. It was great fun for
me to break the fourth wall and work with the crowd a bit during
my act. Many of the big chorus numbers were very grand, with lots
of big costumes and sparkly things. I felt like the shows needed
a personal touch, so even though I used background music, I would
come out and actually talk with the audience, and make jokes during