Since their start in 2004, the Imperial Ice Stars have been melting hearts and freezing stages to bring their art to life. Known for their acrobatics, innovative choreography and suppleness that would make my yoga instructor proud, this version of Swan Lake is no exception.

The process begins with the stage. Yes folks, that’s right, they make their own ice rink on the actual stage (a feat which isn’t as simple as pouring on some water and freezing it). The costumes, designed by renowned theatrical costume designer Albina Gabueva, transport the audience back to imperial Russia to the time Tchaikovsky composed and set the original score. With dazzling diamantes and luscious lace, even the Prince’s outfits are bedazzled (and, oh my god, does he look fabulous!).

Choreographer and artistic director Tony Mercer has gathered a team of the most talented and skilled championship skaters, boasting a total of 250 competition medals between the lot of them, chosen specifically to perform the daring and never-before-seen ice stunts (some of them yet to be named) that make this show unforgettable.

swan lake on ice

Right from the get go the regal Prince Siegfried and his charming ‘bestie’ Benno take to the stage and show us all how we should be expressing our distress at being forced into a loveless marriage: by skating around on a man-made frozen floor and pirouetting to show our displeasure in the matter. Duh.

As the Prince and his buddy go off in search of something to shoot (with the most adorable crossbows, I might add) their hunting party stumbles across a flock of swans and among them Odette, the Swan-Maiden, who is appropriately appalled when the silly hunter men threaten her lovely swan friends. The word ‘grace’ does not even come close to explaining how beautifully Olga Sharutenko brings the lovely Odette to life. Naturally, when the Prince sees her in her human form, he falls instantly in love with her, professes his undying love and they all go on to live happily ever after. The end.


No good story is complete without a baddie, and Count Rothbart and his sneaky daughter do not disappoint. He swishes in with a sense of purpose and the most intimidating goatee I have ever laid eyes on, and with a flourish reveals his feisty daughter Odile. Not many actually know the original story as intended by Tchaikovsky, where Odette and Odile are played by two different people instead of one, but this does in fact allow a gorgeous routine by the two ladies and the Prince to take place in the second act ending in a little twist (but, I don’t kiss and tell).

swan lake on ice

Now, you may be worried that with the storyline being slightly different than the version that is commonly known, it might be difficult to follow but, as my companion pointed out, with the combination of acting and superior skating techniques it is actually easier to understand than the ballet.

There were moments during the performance where the audience collectively gasped in awe with comments such as, ‘how the hell did he do that?’ and ‘that move would be useful in the bedroom,’ which just goes to show all those people who don’t believe fairy tales can teach you anything useful. You certainly won’t find me complaining! Swan Lake on Ice is a must-see in my book.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a dainty crossbow.


When Until 31 January 2016
Where Artscape Theatre, D F Malan St, Foreshore, Cape Town
Cost R150 – R400
Contact +21 421 7695, [email protected]

Photography courtesy Pieter Toerien Productions and Hayley Stols

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