Ice ballets have several sources. One can quote, higgledy-piggledy, amateur shows, professional skating companies or Moscou Circus on Ice.
Ice ballets are probably as old as skating: since the exhibitions of American Jackson Haines at Vienna in the 1860's, one skates original choreographies on music, with costumes and sceneries bearing the character of the music.
The idea of turning Ice ballet into a full sport discipline is nevertheless, as we will see, much more recent, since it comes from 1980.
From amateur shows to professional reviews
Ice ballets are probably derived from pre-war american "Carnivals" . At that time, skating clubs , inspired by the skating's beauty and by its young champions renown, were already setting up complex choreographies for their public. Bringing funds to Clubs, joy to the public and a festive mood to all skaters , the reputation of these ´ Carnivals ª rapidly grew in american clubs.
They have prepared the birth of Sonja Henie's shows ( 3 times olympic champion, in 1928, 1932 et 1936), of professional companies and of other ice reviews. Ice Follies shows were launched in 1938, Ice Capades in 1940 and Holiday on Ice, of which shows still travel the world, in 1944.
Beyond professional reviews and big shows, some other skating artists carried on with their search of skating choreographies .
The British John Curry is one of them. Holding Gold medal in 1976 at Innsbruck Games, he creates a series of outstanding choreographies with sliding and interpretation. Prelude to líAprËs-Midi díun Faune, Spring Consecration, Icare, Attila, The Rose Knight: his creations follow one another and meet a stunning success . In 1984, the Ice Theater of New York is created.
In 1994, Canada, Jean-Pierre Boulais set up Montréal Ice Ballets. This Montréal company is strictly composed of highly multi-skilled artists in the field of theatrical skating. Jean-Pierre Boulais works with some of the best skaters in the world, such as Orser, Britten, Brasseur, Eisler, Chouinard and Stoiko, not to name them.He manages to unify various facets of artistic world, such as dancing, singing, as well as circus acts showed by artists coming from well-known artistic companies such as Sun Circus and Šloise.
One must also quote the company created by 1981 Europe champion, Russian Igor Bobrin, and his wife Natalia Bestemianova, dance olympic champion in 1988. Their "Miniatures" on ice and then the series of ballets they compose regularly meet a great success during their tours around Russia, Europe and America. Furthermore, they allow ice artists to continue with their passion beyond amateur competition and to live on their art. In that respect, they represent a great job opportunity.
By generalizing his creative and varied experience in theatre, circus, cinema and ballet and by getting inspired by his friends who were amongst the best choreographers, artists, compositors, writers and circus managers, Russian Arnold Grigorievitch imagined Moscow Circus en 1962. Company was carefully hired by examination, but first regulations relating to Ice Circus would be formalized later on. Two years of labor were necessary before the show would be presented on the 16th of October 1964. All the employees and 47 beginners were involved in this mise-en-scene work.
First spectators and even experts were stroked by the transformation of usual circus genres. Techniques known for circus mixed with artistic skating technique reached a stunning dynamic. The first tour abroad, at Brussels Royal circus in 1965, caused a sensation. From that time, ice circus was recognized as an art all over the world and found its place in the world market of show business.
" Moscow Ice Circus " keeps traveling around the world with the same success and keeps improving and enriching this show discipline with its always renewed creations.
Ice Ballets hold a peculiar place in Russia, where public enthusiasm provokes various creations each year all over the country. Not many of these creations reach the international stage, but they have always represented a proper Creation School for the whole skating world.
Then was born the idea of Ballet competitions
The idea of organizing Ice Ballet competitions was born at the end of the 1970ís, between Normandy and England . Marcel Ballester, un circus pioneer in Europe, and his wife Edith, a famous skating, had the idea of creating the Gold Apple, a very unique competition that quickly gathered Ice Ballets teams from all Europe. People quickly followed Gold Apple example. An international competition is organized at Liedekerque, Belgium. Then, from the early 90ís, the Griffe d'Argent, Argenteuil, the Coupe des Ducs de Savoie, Chambéry, the Troph»e International d'Occitanie, Toulouse, the Coupe dÌAsniÀres take over in France. the discipline immediately met a nice success amongst both skaters and public.
At the creation of The Gold Apple, panels of judges were made of people coming from different backgrounds, such as circus people, musicians, classical or modern dancers, journalists, judges for skating etc. the need to codify a mode of judgment naturally emerged , in order to keep the notion of sport and the mix of skating, choreography and movement. These panels then gradually became composed in majority of judges for skating (artistic and/or dance) with a necessity to have good knowledge of _ other than skating _ music, choreography as well as a good personal culture
Hence a training set up by our commission, which led us to the current mode of judgment, acknowledged today by United States, Spain, Australia _ among others .
Ice ballet's discipline nowadays
As ice ballets attracted more and more skaters and spectators, the French Federation of Ice Sports began to structure the discipline. The National Commission of Ballet Technique was created during France Championships, Cherbourg, 8th of May 1999. .
In United States, the American Federation develops that discipline called "Theater on Ice", through Development Program of US Figure Skating .
Today, some international and national competitions are organized each year in France, United States, Russia, Spain and Australia .
Ice ballets had another impulse at the first International seminar of Toulouse (France), where regulations set up in France, Russia and United States served as a basis for the elaboration of the international regulations. These regulations, of which the first version is attached in the next pages, are from now on applied in international competitions organized around the world , in United States , in Spain and in Australia.