Professional ice skater Pablo Saccinto describes himself as the perfect ‘Disney nerd’.
In 2010, this Argentinian figure skater auditioned for ‘Disney On Ice’ and got his fairy tale beginning. And, even after a decade of being on the road touring with them, the magic and the sheen of playing a larger-than-life Disney character has not worn off either.
His adventure continues as he brings to life tales of heroism, bravery and romance as a part of ‘Disney On Ice: Find Your Hero’, being staged in Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena in Yas Island this week.
Dressed in costumes depicting famous Disney characters, these consummate ice dancers skate their way into a Disneyphiles’ hearts.
“I love performing with the beloved Disney characters. I grew up watching those movies with my family and I took up ice skating just because of them … That Disney magic never broke and is still intact,” said Saccinto in an interview with Gulf News.
This 33-year-old expert skater usually portrays Le Fou from ‘Beauty And The Beast’ and features in ‘Under The Sea’.
“The idea of dancing next to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck is exciting even today for me. I am living my absolute dream,” said Saccinto, as he gave Gulf News a low-down on the elaborate costume rack filled with elaborate crystal-studded gowns, exaggerated head-pieces and colourful, neon-tastic animal get-ups.
The arrival of ‘Disney On Ice’ show in Abu Dhabi is significant in many ways as it marks the return of live entertainment to the capital after the pandemic.
Their next show is from September 9 to 11 with several shows scheduled each day.
Gulf News was invited to go behind the scenes before the curtains to the UAE show went up on September 2.
On the ice-rink, you could see at least a dozen professional skaters in black leggings and T-shirts with their logo emblazoned on them perfecting their movements and executing jumps and flips with enviable grace.
Their landing on ice was remarkably smooth, indicating that each and every ice-skater in this troupe was armed with sturdy skills and experience.
“While it’s fun to perform on stage, every department like the costume department is fully prepared for the show … We get only forty seconds to change from one costume number to the other and we practice a lot to get it all right … We want to just keep the magic alive,” said Saccinto.
Produced by Feld Entertainment, Disney fans will get an opportunity to see lovable characters such as Moana embarking on an adventure-filled voyage, and witness adorable siblings Anna and Elsa step out of ‘Frozen’ as they belt out iconic songs such as‘Let it Go’ and ‘In Summer’. The tale of Rapunzel, the princess with long golden hair, will also be brought alive.
‘Disney On Ice’ was founded in 1980 and is popular for bringing Disney’s cherished stories alive on ice. They have toured around the globe across more than 70 countries and spread joy to countless Disney fans, both young and old.
Tickets to the show cost Dh80 and are available through the Etihad Arena website.
Gulf News also caught up with skaters to find out how they are preparing for their big gig and how they survived the pandemic and are now on solid ground ...
Meet Shawn Parry, a skater from ‘Disney On Ice’
What should we know about you?
I am Shawn and am a 22-year-old figure skater with ‘Disney On Ice’. I have been figure skating for the last 12 years. I joined this company in 2018 and did their Eastern European tour. Being a part of ‘Disney On Ice’ is even more magical than you can image. I couldn’t ask to do anything more in the whole wide world. It’s such an incredible experience. I am in all of the production numbers such as Mickey Mouse.
How does one be a part of Disney On Ice?
A: If they come to your local town, you can give a live audition or if not, send them an audition video and the whole process can begin.
How did the pandemic affect you as a performer?
Initially, it was quite difficult coming home and not be on the road for so long. But, it was see my family again and we re-connected. I was itching to come back. And, coming back on stage has been amazing. I am so happy to be back.
What has been your biggest learning as a performer during the pandemic?
It was really difficult to find my place in the world again. I was 19 when I came in here and I found my family where I fit in. So when that’s taken away from you, it’s really difficult to deal with it. Since the first day of flying home, I wanted do nothing more than come back and perform in front of thousands again … I am a little nervous, but honestly as soon as I get my skates on and put on my first costume, all that nervousness go away. I am just looking at rushing through the curtains and seeing all those eyes on us. It’s an incredible feeling.
What do you think is the long-enduring appeal of ‘Disney On Ice’?
We have such iconic characters that no other show offers and those characters that you see on stage are brought to you in a completely different way in the medium of ice skating. These are characters that everyone has grown up with and that everyone loves. Plus, it’s great to see them all on ice.
What’s your biggest challenge when you are on the road for long?
The biggest challenge is to remain fit when you are on the road.
What’s a day in your life like?
A: At the moment, our rehearsals are quite intense because we have been away for 18 months. So we are on the ice from 9am until 2pm, then we have our lunch, and we are here till 6pm rehearsing after lunch. So it’s not too bad.
Did you know?
*It takes a full year and the efforts of over a hundred people to create each Disney on Ice Show.
*Each Disney On Ice show is the result of collaboration between director Patty Vincent and the lead creative teams.
*If you want to be a Disney On Ice performer, start the process by logging on to DisneyOnIceAuditions.com
Don’t Miss It!
What: Disney On Ice: Find You Hero
Where: Etihad Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
When: September 9 to 11