The Imperial Ice Stars

TITLE: Swan Lake On Ice

VENUE: Bradford Alhambra


OK, so I’m no ballet fan and celebrities dancing on ice on TV leave me colder than, well, the ice.

So I was caught somewhat by surprise to find myself not only transfixed by these Russian skaters but up there with the rest giving them a standing ovation at the end.

The reason is simple.

This is a must-see show if only to be amazed at the skating skills and the quality of the production from the scenery through to the 100-plus lavish costumes.

It’s a massive logistical feat to stage as it takes two days to set up the ice and get it just right. And then the skaters are performing gravity-defying moves on a slab of ice 50ft by 50ft that most skaters would only dare try in an arena 200ft by 200ft. There is, quite literally, no margin for error.

Get this wrong and it’s akin to falling from a circus high wire without a safety net. Countless times the female skaters were spun around above the heads of their male colleagues at virtually helicopter rotar blade speed. If they let go, the girls would be catapulted over the stalls and into the back row.

Some of the skaters literally fly and at one point the swan herself, Odette, does an entire routine in the air. Now that’s clever.

Some of the moves have reportedly never been tried before and are so complex they haven’t even been named yet.

I’ll name two of them – impossible and improbable.

These performers have won more than 250 competition medals between them and many have been skating since they were three. The scenery, which sometimes seemed to change in the blink of an eye, has been designed by Eamon D’Arcy who was senior production designer for the highly acclaimed Sydney 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Prince Siegfried is played by Andrei Penkin – a kind of fresh-faced Sean Bean who has a natural presence and charm – while his sidekick, Benno, played by Russian Novoseltsev gave the show a humorous twist. Both hold audiences in their hands – when they’re not holding lead skaters Olga Sharutenko as Odette and Olena Pyatash as Odile.

Often these two lead roles are played by the same skater, but that’s not how Tchaikovsky intended it so, in effect, this has reverted back to the original.

Shows like this prove that theatres remain a rich source of entertainment and nothing on TV can match seeing something like this live. It’s one of those performances that will stay with you.

Swan Lake On Ice’s run in Bradford finishes on Saturday and each performance starts at 7.30pm with matinees at 2pm today and 2.30pm on Saturday.

Tickets are priced from £12.50 to £29.50.

Still think you won’t like it? Then check out video footage of some of the show’s highlights at