Wonderful acrobatic pirates and trained parrots on skates

Italians build unrivalled ice rink for new show at Belarusian State Circus
By Lyudmila Khromova

The Belarusian Circus has prepared its answer to the world famous Cirque du Soleil. Premiering in September, in Minsk, the show features animal acts, acrobatic feats, circus magic and clownery. The company features top performers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, China, Belarus and elsewhere, united under the big top. Some acts are even performing on ice, with skating parrots sure to delight the audience.

Magic on Ice opens at the Belarusian State Circus in early September, organised by an Australian company. The show has been touring worldwide for over a year, explains Abraham Kostanyan, the Producer and Art Director. He tells us, “It’s proven a very popular show, especially in such Asian countries as Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.”

The show was a sell-out in Malaysia for about a thousand performances, over the last two years. Belarus is now the first European country to host the unique programme, with the performance adjusted for local tastes, alongside its venue at the Belarusian State Circus. New choreography, tricks and costumes have been prepared, with some of the latter sewn in Belarus. However, the ice for the show has come from Italy.

“The especially-sized ice rink was constructed by Italian specialists for the Belarusian circus, using ‘live’ ice,” explains Serzh Bondarchuk, the Art Director of the Belarusian State Circus. “Such ice does not exist anywhere else; it does not crack like ordinary ice, being extremely solid — thanks to a different method of freezing.”

Anastasia Rich, whose act features levitation, tells us that the circus has never before seen such a performance — especially with ice. Meanwhile, clown Oleg Ponukalin notes, “I’ve seen many different shows but this one is really unique! Circus on ice exists but this one is different, harmonising various genres. Lighting, costumes and staging play less of a role than the spectacle itself. It’s a new project and I’m delighted that Minsk is the first to host this version of the show; we are making ‘circus history’.”

A Belarusian act is featuring in the Australian show: Acrobatic Pirates, directed by Anatoliy Shikovets. It’s a show which our artists have performed in Japan for a long time, featuring 45 artists, plus over a hundred domestic technical workers and 12 from abroad. Professional figure skaters are taking part for the first time in the history of the circus, including some many-time world champions.

“We’ve concluded many contracts worldwide,” say a couple of figure skaters from Australia. “We consider this contract, which allows us to work and live in Belarus for about six months, to be one of the most interesting. Minsk is a beautiful city, with which we’ve already fallen in love. We knew almost nothing before arriving but have been pleasantly surprised. Belarus has an incredibly rich history and culture, despite being small in comparison with Australia.”

For the next six months, audiences will be thrilled by miracles of figure skating and incredible magic tricks, as well as laughing at the antics of the clowns and the stunts performed by skating parrots.
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