Cool, smooth and with a glossy sheen of sparkle – no, not the ice that’s been specially frozen on the Derngate stage, but the stunning performers appearing on it.
The Russian Ice Stars, whose Cinderella on Ice was so exciting and magical in this same space a couple of years ago, have pulled off the same trick again with an exuberant, elegant display of technical wizardry and enchanting storytelling.
It’s the familiar Peter Pan tale, framed with the author JM Barrie supposedly writing it as it happens – and intervening in the action at strategic points – so there is plenty of scope for variety and imagination.
Artistic director Giuseppe Arena makes full use of both the scale of the story and the immense talents of his skaters, who tirelessly throng the stage with flowing, graceful ice dance and extraordinary feats of skill.
Besides the evident expertise of the skating itself, this troupe are also fluent in circus arts, acrobatics and trapeze, so while Captain Hook’s pirates may be performing high-wire stunts in the ship’s rigging, the Indian braves are spinning burning hoops and juggling with fire – all the while at breakneck speeds on an increasingly uneven surface of ice.
It’s breathtaking stuff and exhilarating to watch, so much so that the audience frequently forgets to applaud the amazing talent on display.
There are a host of superb performances, combining the undoubted skating skills with some fine emotional acting. It’s all underscored by a remarkable musical narrative from Italian composer Silvio Amato, whose melodies and soundscapes create a wonderful backdrop to the action, complementing and enhancing the moments of magic and leaving one longing for a live orchestra instead of the pre-recorded backing tracks.
I freely admit to being no expert in the field of ice dance, but it’s plain to see this is a show of dynamic excitement and genuine passion from a company of world-class performers.