The Wonderful Iceworld

Part I

By Helga Dobor& Judit

Photos © Helga Dobor & Hajni


Not much is happening involving skating during the summer in Europe, but it’s even worse if your country doesn’t have any international summer camps or a summer show series. Unfortunately, this is the case in Hungary.
So how can a skating fan survive three long months? You need a fantastic holiday, lots of sunbathing, resting in a non-crowded beach, summer concerts, trips etc etc…All to keep your mind off skating and how much you miss it. We put in all the effort we could, but none of the above worked. We survived the first month, but in July we realized we needed ICE, immediately!

Already in June a thought formed in our brains, after a suggestion from a guy who had heard about a touring ice show in Hungary. He advised us to visit the Budapest National Circus, where at the moment the Moscow State Circus performed with the Wonderful Iceworld.
After a month of figure skating deprivation, this idea started to grow on us. Why hadn’t we heard about this show before? We made some calls and discussed with the manager of the circus, the possibility of making interviews with the artistes and choreographers. This would happen after we’d seen the show, naturally.

Although this was a circus show, it was performed on ice, and we sure got some unforgettable memories! Before we saw it we had some fears we wouldn’t love it, and that we would miss the real skaters, but already in the first minute all those fears disappeared. This performance immediately found the way into our hearts, and the life of the Circus enchanted us. As much as it did though, we were still able to keep our reporter hats on, and watch the show somewhat objectively, as a reporter would. Of course there were parts of the show which reminded us of the programs/elements of our favorite skaters, and sometimes we could see how thin the line is between acrobatics and skating. We got the feeling that figure skaters could pick up some very good ideas in shows like this, and sometime during the show it hit us that maybe they do just that!

Luckily we enjoyed the show much more than we’d anticipated. Despite the ice surface being very small, the skaters performed lots of good elements. There were no difficult jumps, but the lighting was excellent and a live band provided the music for the show. The band podium was located above the ice and the entrance of the artistes. All these elements promised a good show, which was exactly what we got.

Right at the start, in the opening group number, we witnessed not only some basic spins and camels, but a Biellmann! We also saw some elements we know from gymnastics; somersaults and “front handsprings”. It was interesting to see “round off” on ice, from experience we know that it is not an easy element. We were entertained with a few more jumps too. The music was typically used for exhibitions programs in figure skating, as was the blue lighting. (Eduard Sorokin, Evgeni Moskalev, Dimitri Borisov, Tatiana Malinskaya, Anna Fomina)

The next performance was a ballet in the cupola, high up in the air. For figure skating fans this isn’t a totally unfamiliar setting, similar acts have been performed by air acrobats like Debbie Park, and lately even by Olympic champion Alexei Yagudin. This woman, Irina Usenko, used silk, and the guys on the floor stretched the material to support her. It looked very dangerous and the lights made it even more spectacular. It was called a ballet number, but there were definitely some figure skating elements too.

In the third act, we took delight in the woman, Jana Kalinichenko , with stilt skates, and some other artistes, Anastasia Lebedeva, Dimitri Borisov and Evgeni Moskalev on regular skates. We saw Jana doing a Biellmann spin, a spiral and a layback spin. It was unbelievable how she could pull this off! It would be like skating on wooden legs. She had to be a professional skater! This got us thinking of our skaters and what they would look like on stilt skates, and we could really imagine them doing it, but no, we won’t share this mental image with you! :)

The next part was a short clown number, featuring Pavel Simuskov, Anna Juzhakova and Julia Shafeeva. Later we realized that the show acts were connected by these transition clown parts. The first one was really funny! They acted like an orchestra, with a violin, cymbals, a balalaika, a trumpet and a conductor. Then a cleaner came on the ice (no, not the Plushenko program ;)) and continually dumped the dirt on the conductor. The cleaner then took a bucket filled with water and splashed water on her. For revenge the conductor wanted to splash water back on the cleaner, but she managed to shower the audience instead… but there turned out to be no water at all in the bucket!!! It was funny to see a woman sitting there with her family, they were so frightened they’d get soaking wet, because like everybody else they thought there was water in the bucket!

The following number involved a pair doing some impressive lifts. They performed some spins which reminded us of Petrova/Tikhonov (2005 Europeans Exhibition Program; ‘Headbanger’). And the man did some break-dancing on the ice, making us go ‘WOW’! It was something special to see on the ice!
Then they did a spin where the woman put her feet around the man’s neck, it was really showy! To top it off they had a lift where the woman was on the man’s head (no hand or foot hold in that lift). We were blown away by these moves; our jaws must have dropped to the floor.

In the next part of the program, the skaters used some sort of merry-go-round. While holding on to it the guys skated around it. The women were swinging from the top. They could do this, because the men made the merry-go-round move fast, it was really amazing!
(Tatiana Kamanina, Jurij Gudalin , Irina Usenko, Anastasia Khripkova, Dimitri Borisov, Anastasia Lebedeva)

Next Anna Fomina and Alena Moroz appeared in fantastic blue costumes, showing off some trained doves. This part was showy and funny, and the only part we didn't care for was where the ladies juggled with the poor birds, but it was still entertaining. More doves appeared and the number ended with 2 pairs of pigeons sitting on 2 hoops while the hoops were moving. During this program they played a sort of medieval music giving it a renaissance style.

Again a clown came on the ice to make us laugh in the following scene: the clown was a conductor directing the audience with a whistle. This was an interactive part of the show and she wanted us to repeat the beat and later the notes she clapped and whistled. But we weren’t being a very good audience because at first we simply didn’t get it. It was interesting, because she started with some internationally well-known tunes and then continued with a Hungarian evergreen! Ok, that helped, and then we finally caught on! :p

In the end of that number she wanted us to clap and stamp our feet to the tune of Queen’s
“We will rock you”, the music of the next performance; which was kind of an aboriginal program. Four guys, Eduard Palashevsky , Evgeni Moskalev, Dimitri Borisov, Artem Zelenovsky, were playing the drums, and during the ceremony a woman, Olga Vaiman, did different tricks with hula-hoops.

The most amazing part of that act was when the hoop was set on fire, first on the ice and later even in the air! And meanwhile the woman changed clothes, but how she managed that was impossible for our eyes to see! Maybe she was an illusionists as well? It would certainly explain a lot, but in a circus you never can tell for sure. :) But ok, back to the program, which we loved very much. The guys exchanged their drumsticks for flaming torches and this performance was closed by the girl, who by now wore a fire red costume – also with a torch in her hand. Torches and fire are always hypnotizing, so it was a really good end to an awesome act! :) In our opinion this was one of the best and most spectacular programs.

The show continued with a parallel tight rope act, which was also fantastic. Lots of dancers in florescent costumes came on the ice and made formations, and later they performed on the tight ropes. At one point there were three guys on the same rope! Later two men were doing different tricks, and we held our breaths, especially when the two guys grasped the rope with their legs only or held a girl by the hands between the two ropes in the air (Evgenija Stepanova, Evgeni Voronin, Artem Zelenovsky). The costumes were very special, at first the colours seemed neon blue and lilac, but then suddenly looked green and pink... or did we reverse the colours? Again illusions, similar to the gloves of Tomas Verner at the World Championships (2005).

Then came a number with Rhine Wheels, a program which Helga renamed ‘The Hamster Wheel’.

In the Rhine Wheels there was usually only one guy, but there was also a bigger wheel, which held two guys. This trick was absolutely fantastic and we all loved it! The costumes were very interesting and strange, we thought they resembled trees with roots. They covered the whole body and even the heads and we did wonder if they weren’t close to suffocating in there...
It was a genuine circus program, but on ice. (Dimitri Borisov, Evgeni Moskalev, Evgeni Voronin, Artem Zelenovsky, Anastasia Khripkova )


And again the rollicking clowns; Anna Juzhakova, Olga Vaiman, Julia Shafeeva , Pavel Simuskov. They did different tricks with hoops and the girls pretended they weren’t familiar with these toys. An ambitious clown could do anything with the hoops, and the girl, pretending to be uneasy about it, did some rather funny tricks like spinning the hoops around her neck, leg and finally on her hair! Now at least it was clear why her hair was back combed a la Marge Simpson. Another clown joined the “shy” girl and they tried to chase away a third clown but didn’t succeed, and in the end they all made peace and hula hooped together in one hoop.

The band started playing country music, which sounded promising, and yes, some guys came on to the ice skipping ropes! This was really captivating and ingenious, and became Helga’s favourite program. The artistes jumped on the ice while skipping ropes, and one guy even did some cartwheels, this also with skates on!!! In the end they used three jump ropes which made the program even more difficult. They looked so cool in the cowboy outfits and the country music really brought us to the Wild West! (Sorokin, Zelenovsky, Borisov, Moskalev, Hrinkova, Fomina, Moroz)
With the country music still playing, a new group appeared on the ice. They still used jump ropes but mixed it with air acrobatics, awesome!

There was an intermission and we got a few minutes to return to reality. We could really use it, but I suppose the skaters needed this break even more than us, after their exhausting work.


Go to Part II

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