What It Takes To Perform In ‘Disney On Ice’

What It Takes To Perform In ‘Disney On Ice’


This is “Disney on Ice.” But as you can see, there’s much more to
the show than skating. Bryan Santiago: One, two, three and four. Three, turn, five, six,
crossover, seven, eight. Narrator: We got to meet some of the show’s principal performers. Like Nelson Sanchez Leemet,
who plays the role of Woody. Maria Starr, who plays Elastigirl. And Nathan Miller and Sophia Adams, who star as Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. We went behind the scenes. Nelson Sanchez Leemet: I
feel like I’m a gymnast, not gonna lie. Narrator: To find out how
these athletic performers push themselves to limits they didn’t even know were possible. Maria Starr: Honestly, six
weeks ago, I don’t think that I could do these, and now I could do them and talk to you. Narrator: This is what it takes to perform in “Disney on Ice.” We caught up with the cast and crew of “Disney on Ice Presents:
Road Trip Adventures,” the brand’s newest show, just days before the company set out on a two-year, 67-city tour of North America. Cindy Stewart: Take a break. [clapping] Narrator: The show is created here, at Feld Entertainment
Studios in Ellenton, Florida, about 40 miles south of Tampa. Inside the 580,000-square-foot facility, the cast and crew have
spent roughly a year putting the show together, rehearsing and training six days a week, for eight hours a day, in a full-size rink complete with lights, props,
and high-end LED screens. Cindy: We’re in our final rehearsals before our first preview show. And we’re just tying up loose ends and making last-minute changes. Narrator: On the day of our
visit, friends and family of Feld Entertainment
employees filled the arena to witness a special preview performance of “Road Trip Adventures.” Along with familiar faces like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy, the new show features segments from
recent Disney movies, like “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 4,”
and “Mary Poppins Returns.” Nicole Feld: We partner
with the Disney Company to understand what’s in
their content pipeline. What’s new and different,
what’s coming out. And from there we pick out the moments that we feel like are gonna resonate the most with audiences. Producer: You use these
skates for a long time, or? Maria: I never have them
more than 11 months. It’s, like, always 10 or 11 months. Bryan: All right, so, “Trip
a Little Light Fantastic.” The number overall is
looking really great, but there’s three sections I
really wanna clean up today. Five, six, seven, eight. One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven, eight. One and two. Narrator: The “Road Trip Adventures” cast features 53 performers. Bryan: Much better. Narrator: Feld Entertainment
wouldn’t share details about their salaries but did say that they are provided with healthcare. Judy Thomas: Most of the skaters
here have grown up skating, from young children through competitions. And we really do recruit and go out and really search the
talent through competitions as they’re coming up through
the different levels. Bryan: One, two, three, and four. Good. So, Nelson, just make sure that you’re heel together, lean back, lean forward. Nelson: I was born in the
Dominican Republic, so, no winter, no snow, no big rinks. Never even thought about figure skating until I was 10 when I moved to Canada. I didn’t really like the
competitive side of skating, I was more performing
and letting the audience enjoy the performance. So when it got too competitive, I kinda took a step back and I
looked at “Disney on Ice.” So I was like, I have to
do that, it’s my turn now. And here I am today. Maria: I skated competitively and did that until I
graduated high school. And then I just applied
for “Disney on Ice,” sent in a skating résumé and,
like, video of my skating. And I got offered a job. And I was here a month later. And I’ve been on the road,
this’ll be my 10th year. Nathan Miller: I’ve actually been skating for about 25 years now. When I was a kid, I
lived in Oklahoma City, and “Disney on Ice” always
came through at the state fair. And that was, like, a big
highlight for me as a child. And I always as a kid wanted to skate alongside Goofy, and, I mean, here I am, now eight years, and I still get to do it. Oh, it was everything I hoped it would be. It was so much fun. Sophia Adams: I was just a
competitive skater for the US. I’ve been training for my whole life. I’ve been to Nationals,
I’ve done the whole thing. But I really wanted to travel, I really wanted to earn a living off of what I do as a career. I’ve been with the company
for about five years. I’ve traveled around the world, almost on every tour possible. But what is also extremely great about this particular show is
I actually get to fly. Narrator: While the show
is called “Disney on Ice,” some performers spend a bulk
of their time in the air. In addition to skating, the show features complex aerial choreography. Nathan: Do the arabesque
death spiral release, and then we’ll stop here. Narrator: This requires
collaboration between the performers and crew members in charge
of operating the cables connected to their harnesses. Danica O’Neill: A lot of
the people that we have have never really flown
before or done any aerial work because they are naturally skaters. So where they’ve started and where they are now has grown so much. So we are able to do more the more that they are
comfortable with and can do. Sophia: So, we actually have
to have a close relationship with our operator when
we’re learning this process because, you know, there’s
only so much I can do. And so you have to get
together with our operator to give you more slack,
less slack, and tension. And help me spin and fly. So instead of just working with a partner, you’re also working with another partner. Narrator: Along with aerial
work, the show’s cast must develop other skills
that go beyond skating. Nelson: This is called a rollup. And it uses a lot of abs
and upper-body strength. It really works your back
and all these muscles that we never really
use as figure skaters. But we have to use it now. Narrator: Nelson’s upper-body strength is put to the test
during the “Mary Poppins” segment of the show. Nelson: Being able to hold on for grip for so long up there, all
my weight’s in my hands for the first time ever. You know, we’re used to being on skates on our own body; it’s all upper-body now. Narrator: The “Mary Poppins”
segment also combines feats of upper-body
strength with aerial work, which occurs when the
lampposts suddenly take flight. Nelson: We always have communication; it’s the most important part. If something goes wrong,
we have a few little waves, thumbs down means down, you know, feet like this also means down, like an emergency exit, in
case something goes wrong. At first we started low, but
the higher we started going, it’s definitely a little scary. Narrator: Not every
role in “Disney on Ice” requires quite the same
level of athletic ability. But each part contributes
to the overall experience. Bryan: Especially figure skaters, it’s a very solitary sport. We don’t grow up always working with, like, a large group together. Getting them to see the bigger picture, know that it’s not yourself
out on the ice by yourself, you’re a part of a huge unit that’s performing in front
of thousands of people. So, it’s kinda getting the mindset of your everyday figure skater into the mindset of a professional athlete. They’ve grown a really close bond, and they’ve become really good friends, and they support each other. It’s a really good group of
people that we have here. Nelson: When I go out there
and I see the audience react so well to us, and all
these families come together and share such a beautiful moment, it gives me so much joy. Makes me miss my family,
but they’re proud of me. I know they’re proud of me.

100 thoughts on “What It Takes To Perform In ‘Disney On Ice’

  1. My best friend is part of Disney on Ice. She was Jessie and so many more people but I don’t get to see her often since she is always on tour:(

  2. I went watching the show yesterday, the show is wonderful. My daughter enjoys it! Thank you for all the hard work, I know it's not easy to get to this level. You guys deserve a high pay salary.

  3. I saw one of these with Ariel and I was 4 and was SO HECCING SENSITIVE TO NOISES. They had to take me back before it even finished because it was just too much for me to handle 🙁 now my aunt doesn’t want me to come again

  4. Cindy Stuart: "Take a break!"
    Me: o.0 HAMILTON!!

    Edit: OML TYSM FOR THE LIKES! I HAVE NEVER GOTTEN 12 LIKES BEFORE AND TY FOR THE REPLIES!

  5. i remember going to this when i was younger. it was right when tangled came out and i was super obsessed with rapunzel. i know they’re doing recent disney movies, but i’m a lil sad about the set list this year. the 2011 show was amazing!

  6. It takes a google search to know how much they get paid. Disney does contracts…and I'm pretty sure those that have bigger roles on the ice get paid the highest, and those with smaller roles get paid the least. Probably the minimum pay here is $35k a year, but they're probably provided living, travel expense and etc Just a guess tho'

  7. They get paid less if they lose or gain weight because they have to have extra costume fittings I know this as my skating teacher did it

  8. I don't like Disney and their characters. Neither do I like them putting shows where actors wear shitty costumes.

    GIVE.THOSE. ACTORS. AWARDS. THEY ARE TALENT.

  9. My aunt used to be Ariel on Disney on ice before she started coaching skating, and I didn’t think it was this much. Like it’s kinda crazy to think about.

  10. Holy crap 6 days a week/8hrs a day for a year straight and THEN they go on tour? That is straight up insanity no matter how much they get paid and I'm sure it's not enough.

    Ahh wouldn't share about salaries and then talked about how they groom these people from the time they are children coming up training as skaters (even getting them from other countries where they may not have a concept of what should be a fair wage for the US entertainment industry) so that they can get them to accept whatever terms as they grow up cause it's their "dream" to work there. I'd really like to know how many of these skaters would have actually trained for other stuff if Disney hadn't gotten to them first.

  11. “I would say on average, before tax, a first year ensemble skater will make about $700 per week and a lead role can make anywhere from 900 to as much as $1500 per week, or even more depending on the role. First of all, we are paid weekly and employed full time on a contract basis.”

    2 year tour – 52 weeks in one year – 104 weeks per tour – roughly 72,800 before tax for 2 years for a first year skater – roughly 157,500 before tax for 2 years for a lead role skater.

    Not completely shitty. They probably get free housing on a tour bus and a couple free meals per day.

  12. i remember when my mom took me and my brothers to see Disney on ice when we were like around 8. She said she would not buy us anything from inside the place, but when we left we had a mickey mouse shirt, slavered ice, and light saviors

  13. i recently worked as the costume department for this year disney on ice in my country, and the amount of work these skaters put are insane. they have a lot of show time every day and they have to do it like for a week before moving on to another country. they have to do everything by themselves (make-up until costume despite having a costume department helper). i talked to a lot of the skaters backstage and theyre always try to put on a friendly face when i know theyre always freaking tired and want to go home since theyve been doing the tour for months. i appreciate how much work goes backstage and onstage.

  14. I work at the United Center at at the beginning of every year I see Disney on Ice

    There are three shows a day, each day for like a week. And after watching it so many times you start to look for mistakes, and when you do you start to worry about the dancers cause it’s so much work. I take my nieces and neighbors every year and they love it, you can tell they do it for the kids to make their experience magical

    P.S The Moana theme like two years was the best theme outta all of them

    P.P.S. Coco was the second best the costumes were amazing😍😍

  15. They are amazing! But I'm so worried about them. I know they get health care, but what if they get a permanent accident? I really wish the best for all of them.

  16. If they don’t discuss salaries 1. They aren’t paid well 2. Some are probably paid more than others but unfairly like masked characters get less than unmasked characters despite doing the same amount of onstage work

  17. I have absolutely no knowledge about skating but I think it’s really cool. I have a question. If the lights and the amount of skaters and how scratched up it is effect the ice? like, won’t the ice melt from all the lights and skaters, or is there some kind of thing they put on it?

  18. When I was young, I remember That we don’t have Disneyland/ World in my country, So My parents would of get tickets to see Disney on Ice. Which It seemed like waiting for the show is forever since my parents told me about the tickets and things XD.

  19. we have Disney on ice where we live 😉 there’s a winter show where must Disney on ice skaters join the winter show, I’m also joining like usual 🙃🙃

  20. I think figure skaters are bad ass, because when I’m skating I’m only thinking about not to fall but they go up in the air and do tricks and stuff😂😂

  21. Friends: “Oh yeah I'm gonna be a professional ice skater!”
    Me: “Oh that’s cool!”
    Friends: “What do you want to do?”
    Me: “ride the zamboni and go ZOOM”

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