Ice Fantillusion from Imagination to World of Color

April 18 , 2016
By Mireille Geurts
Photos © Absolute Skating by Mireille Geurts & Joy

The upcoming Friday will see the 7th installment of Ice Fantillusion. This show, running in Belgium, was created from scratch by Jenna McCorkell and Kevin van der Perren, and we have been visiting it since the earliest stages. This edition will be called "World of Color", and except for the title itÂ’s shrouded in mystery for us.

With the dress rehearsals we'll visit starting on Tuesday, I find myself reflecting back to the last year's show, appropiately called "Imagination". Appropiately, you might ask? Well... Do you know those moments, when you are lying in the grass looking at the clouds, and you start to make out shapes and from then on your mind wanders all over the place, hopping from subject A to Z, picturing Y and B and sometime later you wonder how you ended up from that innocent looking cloud in your current subject? And when you try to track back your thoughts, it's all jumbled up and doesn't really seem to make any sense, when it really did at first. That's how last year's show looked like, basically. And thus, while very enjoyable to visit and experience, it's very hard to retell later.

Usually from the moment we arrive in Liedekerke and start to witness the first rehearsals till the later shows, my mind is not only occupied with "what photo is fun for Facebook and Twitter and the Sneak peek" but also with storing details for the article about the show, what is the story, how is the show built, what is new this year, how do they picture it, which things jump out at us, etc. And you can probably see it coming already, I wasted a lot of brainspace trying to find the plot (common theme) in the show. Asking Kevin Van Der Perren about it, he replied with a twinkle in his eye:

"Nah, I just threw everything I could think of together."

We all laughed, because at first glance this certainly seemed the case. But if you looked deeper and saw how much thought went in the details: the decor, the costumes, the props, the lighting... this was certainly all well planned. It was a clever mix of using existing costumes and props with enough new material so it would not look stale.. which it in no way ever did.

But let's follow Kevin's lead and do the same, I'll just tell you whatever I think of. Or, better put, I'll just call it my personal highlights.

I remember, for example, being very impressed with the build up of the opening. The show opened up entirely in the dark. Jenna and Kevin, dressed in black, were working on a drawing of a castle. To the tune of the most famous song of Disney's hit movie “Frozen”, Let it Go, first Kevin and then Jenna started to skate around, using the audio beats to gesture towards the castle, part of which would then light up. When the castle was eventually fully illuminated, little lights sewn to their own costumes started to pop up. Perfect!

"I've made the decor entirely by myself this time," Kevin told us, "from the design to the execution, it took me four weeks!"

That payed off, the castle was very pretty, in whichever color light it was cast.

We learned that in Wonderland the playing cards can actually skate and that replaying a battle on the ice may look like a totall mess, while in fact it is all cleverly choreographed and designed to make it look like chaos. A very colorful part of the first act was also the story of "Beauty and the Beast". Jenna played Belle and, as you all may know, she was quite the bookworm.

"I felt pretty awkward, skating around with a book for so long" Jenna told us.

It did indeed took quite some time, yet she looked very happy and still managed spirals and even some jumps while holding the book.

"That's because the girls all wrote pieces of text and stuck pictures in it etc., bookmarking it where I had to open it that day."

Curious, we asked Jenna what kind of things they put in the book, but she replied laughingly "I better not divulge that!"

She also wore a very pretty looking yellow gala dress in the ball scene when the Beast is transformed to the Prince, and while it looked very fitting for the role, in reality Jenna could hardly move in it. It was way too heavy and too stiff. This created hilarious moments during the rehearsals, but luckily not in the shows; to the audience it looked very elegant and princessy.

One day, half an hour before the show, Kevin was running around frantically "looking for his bird" as he told us. No, not Jenna... he meant the bird to be shot in the hunting scene where Gaston displays his manly skills. The prop was lost. My suggestion to shoot 'the Eastern Prince's' monkey (from act 2) instead did not get picked up....

In that Eastern scene there were some costume issues too. Bob Rasschaert, who played the Genie, couldn't see a thing and thus could not skate properly, let alone jump. Not that you could tell, in the shows done for the schoolkids, he was the most popular guy on the ice! Luckily his mom managed to fix that, before the shows opened for the public.

I really did love this scene, the music is so cheerful and fun, the costumes very bright and colourful, fun lifts done by group of kids, Kevin and the Genie dancing together; and the giant line up from the back of the ice towards the audience just looked so good... Not to forget they had a real flying carpet two people could sit on!

From a totally different genre, but equally fun was the jazz-ballet. Jazz like Chicago the musical, not the ballet type. From girls dressed in very sexy black playsuits doing funky choreography, to the younger kids dressed in trenchcoats and hats playing the writing media, to the skating clubÂ’s own sync team as show girls, it all brought you into an entirely different world.

In the scene called "Existence and passing away" a big part of the cast lined up and made a wheel. It was so giant that at one of the shows I actually had to hold the papers I had lying on a table in front of me, so they wonÂ’t blow away. And the speed the skaters at the end of the wheel have, impressive!

The outlook of the finale of the show was in deep discussion that week. The skaters wouldÂ’ve liked to wear their own costumes, like in the wheel, but they also had purple costumes, which they wore in the opening, which Kevin would prefer. They tried out both, and we even compared pictures of both, but in the end, for the sake of consistency, they all went out in purple costumes. And looked great!

With the finale, I also end my trip through the memory lane. I am sure I forgot to include lots of stories. But what is more important, there are more stories to come, and very soon already. And I am very sure they will (at the very least) be equally awesome! So if you are in the area, and are still free this upcoming weekend, grab your chance, get a ticket and come to Liedekerke. Hope to see you there!

Stories can also be told via photos, instead of words. Enjoy the very complete album via below links:

Act 1


Act 2

Solo: Marthe Demeyer

Eastern Thief Prince

Solos before Act 1:

Aurelie Defloo, Laura Balanean, Robyn Raveyts

Solos before Act 2: Lisa van Genck, Kirana Noerens, Bob Rasschaert, Kids on Ice

For more information, visit the Ice Fantillusion website here


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