Ice star Valdis has to be in tip-top shape to bring Cinderella extravaganza to life
WORLD class Russian skaters head to Plymouth Pavilions from Boxing Day to perform in the show Cinderella on Ice. The renowned Russian Ice Stars bring the acclaimed production to life on the ice.
A real rink will be built on the stage of the Pavilions arena enabling some of the world's finest skaters to glide and swirl their way through this best-loved of all fairytales.
With eye-catching sets and colourful costumes, the traditional tale unfolds in a two-hour spectacle which will entrance all ages.
One of the stars of the show, Valdis Mintals who plays the Prince, has to be in top shape to pull of the skating moves.
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"There are the lifts, spins throughout and movements like the throw jumps, which is when I 'throw' Cinderella and she spins on to land effortlessly," he said.
Estonian born Valdis started skating aged four.
During his competitive skating career he took part at European and world level becoming Estonia's national champion for eight consecutive years.
He stars alongside Valeria Vorobyeva as Cinderella.
Valeria is Russian and like Valdis started skating from the age of eight.
She gets to show off her skills when her character loses her slipper... in this case a skating boot.
"You will see Cinderella without one of her boots and she has to skate on one leg," she said.
All the performers train hard for the performances, rehearsing for eight weeks beforehand, up to eight hours a day.
Even once the tour starts, the gruelling rehearsal schedule continues for three to four hours before the show.
The ice stage is especially built for this spectacle.
Unlike a competition arena, the rink is a lot smaller and the ice temperature has to be kept constant by a big generator outside the venue.
With so much action on stage, the performers have to be careful to stay within the parameter of the rink.
There's a thin red line on the ice showing performers exactly where they can skate to avoid any problems or accidents.
"There are occasionally injuries," said Valdis.
"I have been injured several times, but I'm back on stage as soon as possible – we love getting on with the show."
The choreography is set by Giuseppe Arena, who is renowned within her field.
Classic characters like the Prince, Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother all feature as well as the Ugly Sisters and the evil Stepmother, who is played by a man.
"We want to draw our audience in," said Valdis. "It's most important we show the depth and breadth of human emotions."
As well as showing off their skating skills, the entertainment factor is also important to the cast.
"Skate jesters and circus people put on a wonderful display using trapezes during the ball scene," said Valdis.
The cast spends a lot of time on the road and are like a big family.
Valdis explains he met his wife Katya Bokiy, who plays the Fairy Godmother, in a production 10 years ago.
They now have a seven-year-old son, Ervin, who was born in England.
Despite spending so much time together Valdis and Katya get on.
"It's not easy as we are together 24/7," he said.
"There's no new news to tell each other at the end of the day, but life is good, we love each other and the work. "
On tour they enjoy catching up with their native culture by watching Russian news and movies and also take time out to enjoy the places the visit.
Last time Valdis was in Plymouth was five years ago when he played the Prince in Beauty and the Beast.
He's looking forward to returning to the city.
"We both think it's a nice place, somewhere we really enjoy," he said.
Cinderella runs at Plymouth Pavilions from December 26 until January 5.