Carol Patterson
ICE—Direct From Russia


DISCIPLINED, WELL EXECUTED Ice-skating is a favorite sport of mine—to watch—haven't skated since I was younger. It is such a graceful combination form of dance, movement and athleticism. Watching it live is a rare treat here in the desert. Icy, colorful wonderland moods are well executed by the 42 dancers in the company.

The 3000-square-foot Versailles Theatre stage is smallish, but not so much that the skaters can't execute large-area choreography. The ramps and runways add dimension and depth to the staging. If you sit down front, be sure to be back from the bar or restrooms before the bridges are removed! The show more or less fits the venue. In fact, ICE could do more with the stage area, and yet seems to err on the side of caution. Nonetheless, the show is lovely, the dancers gorgeous and the variety of acts and dance sequences make for a diverting evening show.

Company numbers are well done, and the acrobats are skilled and amusing. Musicians skate while they play, aerialists glide through several sequences and dancers mesmerize with colorful kites in a unique pas de deux dreamy sequence. Another number is done with hoops and is very seductively presented, a la Vegas. Everything from jugglers to Red Skelton-style nonsensical skits to beautiful, scantily clad skaters on stilts changes up the action and tone constantly.

Skating is a tough art form. Especially impressive are those of the performers who also play violins, or juggle or are on the receiving end of blades hurtling at them as acrobats fling themselves at each other. The level of difficulty of acrobatics on skates isn't all that apparent, but keep your imagination with you and extrapolate. They are the truly gifted.

Most gifted of all is the lone acrobat who built precarious heaps of metallic objects and then stood on them (in skates). Picture metal cylinders, cubes and a small flat piece, stacked atop an elevated platform, all rolling and tilting as physics dictate, yet mastered by this young man. He formed several configurations, balancing atop his loose piles of moving metal, while we held our breath. Truly amazing.

The most unusual aspect of this venue for presenting ice-skating is the vantage point you have as the audience, sitting below stage level. The immediacy of the coolness wafting off the ice, the scrape of blades audible, the death-defying drops so close and at eye level, the few inches between head and ice visible, everything is dramatic from that angle.

The euro-style acrobatics are above average, as circus-style acts go, because of the skating aspect. The music runs the gamut, from new age to trance to rock. The wannabe garb and humor strikes an unusual chord, although imitation is flattering. A more generous budget would help immensely.

The production is based on the work of Sergey Ryshkoff, who was the founder of the Moscow Ice Circus. Adapted by Debra Brown, Emmy-award winning choreographer of Cirque fame for her Academy Awards piece, ICE is an interesting hybrid. Her broad international background is reflected in this minor production, with the homage to the Pink Floyd/James Brown era strange, but fun, though not as ambitious as her Madonna, Aerosmith or Björk contributions. There are obvious budget limitations for ICE, most notably with the costumes for this musical montage.

Overall, ICE—Direct From Russia is a fantastic peek into Russian innovation, with the combined circus, musical and dance repertoire entertaining, and often quite engaging—certainly all beautiful, young and talented.

All four of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Get as close to the stage as you can.

Versailles Theatre—The Riviera Hotel and Casino—The Strip
General Admission, $59.95*
VIP Admission, $69.95*
*plus applicable fees and charges

Saturday–Thursday, 8:00 p.m.
Dark Friday

Ticket Information at the Box Office or call (702) 794-9433

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       Reviews are © Carol Lane Patterson and reprinted with permission.




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