From the 27 to the 31 of December, the people in Malmö were privileged to enjoy a spectacular show with skaters, dancers and acrobats, three times daily and absolutely free. All they had to do was come to the town square known as "Stortorget". The city of Malmö provides a small ice rink downtown every year, and this year it was put to extra good use.
The show was meant to offer shoppers enjoyment and some time of rest amidst the after Christmas sales. But it turned out to be a little more than that, as not only the people passing by stopped, but people came from all over to catch the show. A total of about 25 000 people saw the shows. Most of the skaters and dancers were young students from local clubs, and they had to audition for their spot in the show.
Fredrik Granqvist, a coach in Stottsstadens Skating club in Malmö, also known as a member of the judges’ panel in the Swedish edition of “Skating with the stars”, made it happen.
“I produce shows and the Malmö city officials thought figure skating was an interesting concept. They approached me and asked if it would be possible to set something up. Well, anything is possible, right? The skaters and dancers have all put so much energy into this production; it’s been a joy to work with them. And the interest from the public has been great. The last show of the day was held after the stores had closed so people came just to watch.”
We came to watch too and we were not disappointed. Already a half hour before the show started the stands were filling up. Skater Richard Lundberg was literally lifted off the ground and sat on a platform several meters above the ice. There was no fear on his face going up, sitting there waiting, or coming down. He was the King of the ice in more ways than one as the show portrayed ice and fire through skaters, dancers and acrobats. The show began with the ice crystals, dressed in icy blue with frosted hair and faces, skating and dancing happily to convince the audience that ice rules. Skater Malin Göransson had a prominent place on the ice. The King was lowered onto the ice with a fierce look on his face, and he stirred up feelings among the happy go lucky crystals. He and Malin Göransson did some pair skating, which was very appopriate; Richard usually skates with his sister Michelle in his home club Tyringe.
Pålina Boukov appeared on the ice as half ice crystal and half flame. She skated around all alone as she didn’t fit in on either side.
Jimmy and Anna, the famous local acrobat team, used different types and colors of silk throughout the show and portrayed both ice and fire. They fit in everywhere and did it with incredible ease.
The flames entered and with soloists Åsa Persson, a former Swedish ladies’ champion, and pair skater Niklas Hogner as the King and Queen of fire, both managed to pull off jumps on the small ice. The ice was colored red as skaters and dancers worked the stages, they even shot bolts of lightning. The flames were on fire!
The ice crystals returned and the battle for dominance was on. Luckily Pålina managed to convince everyone to coexist in peace and in the last dance ice and fire moved side by side.
The show lasted only 20 minutes but left a lasting impression. The message of peace between two opposites was surely carefully picked, and could stand as a symbol for any parties with different views, urging them to make peace during the upcoming year. The choreography enhanced the message and the elements of surprise; the Ice King descending from the sky and the acrobats swinging from the silk, kept the attention of the crows that clapped and cheered.
We were impressed by the costumes. It was very cold outside, well below freezing and getting even colder once the sun set. But the cleverly designed costumes sparkled and burned in daylight as well as in show lights. They also allowed the performers to wear something warm underneath.
During the first show the crowd was able to see all that was going on around the ice and what the whole ice area actually look like. Later as it got darker, a light show displayed red and blue rays which added to the story. The beautiful and wonderfully haunting “Wintermezzo” music was composed by local musician Mikael Gomilsek.
The shows were a huge success for Malmö city and all involved in making it happen. Fredrik Granqvist was very ple ased with the outcome and that special challenges had been overcome.
“It was a huge challenge to take this on, but it’s been great. But today we had a case of sickness. Jimmy’s partner Anna could not perform, so about an hour before the first show of the day we had to change the performance so Jimmy could do it alone. But he did it so well I don’t think anyone who hadn’t seen the show earlier knew there were supposed to be two acrobats.”
True, we didn’t. We watched all three shows on the last day they were performed and enjoyed every minute. Any chance of this becoming a tradition in Malmö?
“We’ll see. It’s up to Malmö city and no one there has said anything about next year yet.”
Well, we hope they do. Skating can appear in some unlikely places and in Malmö the people obviously appreciate the grace and beauty of the sport.