Abu Dhabi: Discovering magic with Disney On Ice

Even if you’re all grown up, you can still find the magic; especially when all the princesses are there too (including Moana and Anna-Elsa!)

Etihad Arena has never looked so royal, that was our first impression and reaction as we walked into the venue in Abu Dhabi last weekend to witness the new edition of Disney On Ice: Mickey and Friends. For, in the audience were many little princes and princesses, adorning crowns and tiaras. Dressed up in Disney character’s outfit, complete with the sash, the bow-arrow, mouse ears, and more — they were the highlight of the show, followed by, of course, the approximate 50 cast members on the ice. The show, which ran from October 12 until 16, of course, saw Mickey Mouse. He was joined by Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy on a journey to discover his favourite memory of all time. The two anchors/presenters, who did a brilliant job at keeping the audience engaged, used Mickey’s ‘Mouse Pad’ to assist everyone in the venture through the gamut of Disney stories, sharing memorable moments from treasured tales. There were of course all the princesses one could think of including but not limited to Moana, Rapunzel, Belle, Ariel and more. We applauded as characters from Toy Story and Finding Dory, moved swiftly, gracefully on their skates. Frozen’s Anna and Elsa were the highlights, with everyone singing along with them. At many points, one almost forgot that the characters were actually on skates, on ice; such were their deft, well-choreographed moves. Along the way, we sailed away with Moana as she displayed the courage to save her island on a high-seas adventure with the demigod, Maui; experienced the mysterious magic of Fantasia as a Sorcerer’s Apprentice made brooms come to life. On a few occasions, we did have difficulty in following the vocals (dialogues) of the characters though; and had to struggle to listen closely. Nevertheless, it was a magical experience.


Before the show, we also spoke to Tya Greentree, who skated as Belle, and was one of the lead skaters on the show, to get an idea of what goes behind the scenes to create magic on ice. Excerpts from our interaction.

Why doesn't a Disney tale never get old, even when re-told, decades later?

I believe a Disney tale never gets old because there’s always a new generation for the story to be told to and shared. I feel the messages behind these stories are very special, and parents want to share these magical stories with their children.

The best moment for you?

My best memory would be the first time I flew in the air in the ice-skating show portraying princess Ariel. It was such an amazing and special experience.

What are the top three challenges whilst performing on ice?

I wouldn’t say there’s a top three! A lot of my friends and I have so much fun out there during the performance. I would say the hardest part is sometimes not laughing with each other because it’s so much fun.

What is the difference between choreography off-ice vs. on-ice, as well as warm-up off-ice vs on-ice?

Everything off the ice is very stagnant. We don’t have the same flow and movement. However, off-ice is good for us to start building on new skills and tricks before putting them onto the ice. I would say choreography is easier on the ice because we have more freedom and feeling for what the movements will actually be like compared to off the ice.

It can get it cold there!

It can be cold, however by the time we warm up and start practising, our bodies get warm, and we no longer need to wear our jackets.

How do you stay physically/mentally fit for such acts?

Lots of practice, consistency and patience

Disney stories in 2022 due at times feel regressive and things changed when Frozen came about and blue became the new pink, et al; as an artist what are your views on the same?

I think it’s great to show the diversity and to incorporate our modern lifestyle that everyone is different and unique in their own special way.


This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.

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