For many years, St. Petersburg has been the heart of Russian figure skating, the place where Evgeni Plushenko himself lived and trained under Alexei Mishin’s guidance. The imperial city has been Evgeni’s home, so it seemed obvious he’d bring here his dearest project, the fairy tale on ice named “Snow King”, offering the figure skating fans in St. Petersburg no less than 10 shows at the beginning of 2015. Five days with loads of wonderful figure skating in the city – and we are bringing you the magic, the colors and the joy through tons of photos taken in Ice Palace on 4th, 5th and 6th January. Prepare to be amazed, because, as Plushenko stated in October, in an interview for Inside Skating, “We don’t have this kind of show anywhere in the world, anywhere on this planet”.
by Florentina Tone
“Snow King” started as an old idea of Evgeni, “to make something like Cirque du Soleil”, and turned into a huge project, with 220 people involved and 180 costumes being made – and having in the cast figure skating stars like Irina Slutskaya, Brian Joubert, Johnny Weir and Tomas Verner. Add here tens of other skaters (among them, familiar names like Fiona Zaldua and Dmitry Sukhanov, Katarina Gerboldt, Sofia Biryukova, Maria Sergejeva, Nodari Maisuradze…), the illusionists Safronov Brothers, ice and aerial acrobats, 3D effects and… magic, a lot of magic – and you’ll understand why the 9 shows in Moscow and the 10 in St. Petersburg were all sold out. Plans are the “Snow King” will travel the world (“We want to reach the level of 150 shows per year around the world”), the same interview stating that the team of organizers – Evgeni Plushenko, Yana Rudkovskaya and “PMI” corporation – is negotiating for start 20 shows in Germany.
A fairy tale on ice, “Snow King” is based on one of the most famous stories of Hans Christian Andersen, “The Snow Queen”; you surely read it in your childhood. A story about people seeing themselves into a fantastic mirror that changes them, changes everything, a story about the eternal winter – and, most of all, a story about friendship, with children Kai and Gerda losing track of one another and finding themselves again at the end of one of the biggest adventures of their lives.
In Plushenko’s version of the story, the part of Kai is played by the amazingly talented Johnny Weir, while Gerda is the two-time Olympic medalist Irina Slutskaya. Evgeni Plushenko is the Snow King himself and one of the most intriguing parts of the show is the one in which he travels in an impressive carriage over the ice; and the carriage seems to fly by itself in the air. Actually, the show is full of illusions and wonderful tricks, put together to amaze the audience by the Safronov Brothers; Evgeni himself performs a risky jump with 8 turns, 5 metres above the ice. The show is directed by Aleksey Golubev and the stunning costumes have been created by the fashion designer Igor Gulyaev.
This particular photo report, with beautiful pictures taken in St. Petersburg by Natasha Ponarina, covers the first act of the show, ending the moment in which Kai decides to follow Snow King’s carriage – and Gerda starts looking for him. Do visit us the following days to see the rest.
Snow King: magic in St. Petersburg. Act I
The show starts with the young Russian star, Sofia Dolganova, reading parts of the story; as a true master of ceremonies, the curly girl will appear numerous times during “Snow King”…
It’s Safronov Brothers’ turn to enter the arena; they play the part of the trolls, making tons of tricks during the show and, most important, building the famous mirror from Andersen’s story.
The magic mirror is supposed to distort the appearance of everything it reflects; it fails to reflect the good and beautiful aspects of people and things, magnifying instead their bad and ugly parts.
The story takes us then into the king’s castle, with its sumptuous interiors and people dancing.
Wearing a precious blue suit, Evgeni Plushenko takes the ice for his first appearance in the show. Standing beside him, a buffoon (Jason Graetz) and a beautiful lady (Alexandra Vasilieva).
In the foreground, the Czech skater Tomas Verner, at the royal court.
Jason Graetz, as the buffoon, Tomas Verner and Katarina Gerboldt
Alexander Yakushin and Tatiana Rozanova
Once again, Tomas Verner
A second buffoon, Sergey Yakimenko
The king himself
One of the magical tricks of Safronov Brothers: the king becomes the Snow King.
Sofia Biryukova, Tatiana Rozanova and Alexander Yakushin
The king and his courtiers; among those, Sofia Biryukova, Alexander Yakushin, Ksenia Korobkova, Nodari Maisuradze, Tatiana Rozanova and Maria Sergejeva…
Performing a jump with 8 turns, 5 metres above the ice…
It’s time for one of the most important characters of the story to take the (icy) stage: Kai, whose part is played by Johnny Weir, is grimacing: the mirror made earlier by the trolls fell to earth, shattering into millions of pieces – and one of its splinters got into Kai’s heart and eyes.
This particular happening profoundly changes Kai – he starts seeing the bad in people and the world, becoming angry and upsetting his longtime friend, Gerda (Irina Slutskaya).
Before continuing with the story, the ice and the aerial acrobats enter the arena – and this is truly the part in which the “Snow King” resembles Cirque du Soleil’ shows.
Alexander Yakushin and Tatiana Rozanova
Maria Sergejeva and Nodari Maisuradze
Sofia Biryukova, Maria Sergejeva, Alexandra Vasilieva and Valeria Grechuhina
The guys are just having fun: Nodari Maisuradze, Alexander Yakushin, Hovhannes Mkrtchyan, Andrei Kositsin…
The Ukrainian acrobat Irina Usenko
Irina Usenko, Sergei Yakimenko (the jumping buffoon) and their assistants, Andrei Kositsin and Alexander Yakushin
An enthusiastic Sergey Yakimenko
Once again, Irina Usenko
The courageous Fiona Zaldua and Dmitry Sukhanov
The flying acrobat Andranik Karibyan
Jason Graetz, as the buffoon
One of the long-expected moments of the show: the Snow King and his carriage flying over the ice. No strings attached. How is this even possible? Safronov Brothers might have the answer.
…while the Snow King’s carriage flies around him, Kai decides to follow it, leaving Gerda behind.
The Ukrainian aerialist Irina Usenko
Not knowing the reason of Kai’s disappearance, Gerda is determined to find her friend and embarks into an adventurous journey.
Sofia Dolganova, the narrator of the story
At the end of part one, Safronov Brothers are again taking the ice for their tricks and illusions…
Sergey and Ilia Safronov, alongside Elena Bartkova
Sofia Dolganova invites us to follow her into the second act of the story, after a short intermission (here with Sergey Safronov).
…and we do the same, inviting you to pay us a visit the following days for the Act II of Plushenko’s Snow King. Until then, just a teaser – among the surprises of the 6th January’ show in St. Petersburg, one in particular is very touching: on the day he turned 2 years, Alexander (Sasha) Plushenko, the son of Evgeni and Yana Rudkovskaya, entered the rink along his father, to be congratulated by the entire audience…