Aliens, Animals & Artists of the Autostadt: A backstage pass to the German outdoor ice show

On any given night at the Autostadt, its ice show Urmel Aus Dem Eis presents all the ingredients of a professional production – effortless triple jumps, soaring back flips, high-flying bounce spins and fast-paced ensemble numbers. But this show is anything but ordinary.

Here you will find life-sized space ships, Tyrannosaurs Rex’s, meat grinding machines and remote controlled couches. You will see skaters as chocolate tortes and cherry souffles, pandas and parakeets, nuns and priests, runway models and bullfighters, farmers and Carnival showgirls, baroque waltzers and Star Trekkies.

And don’t forget, lots and lots of pyro.

Under rain, snow, sleet, torrential winds and even melting ice the outdoor show must go on. Located in Wolfsburg, Germany, the Autostadt is widely known for its museums of Volkswagen automobiles, but its ice show is the biggest attraction of the holiday season running until Dec. 28.

The entire experience is a whirlwind of rehearsals and performing. An ensemble of 22 skaters collectively learn 46 numbers over a three week rehearsal period in Bad Sascha, Germany. Stephanee Grosscup, the show’s choreographer, sometimes teaches up to four numbers per day in order to finish all the productions.

“We never let up. Everyone starts to get overloaded with steps and stories [however] these young, athletic, creative and talented skaters are a constant source of inspiration to me,” she said. “There is a spirit amongst [them] that is so unique. We are trained athletes first and foremost, but we are dancers, actors, characters, musicians, muses.”

Once they arrive in Wolfsburg, the skaters perform twice each day and open a new show every Sunday over four weeks. Installation for the following week’s show takes place late at night, often in less than favorable weather conditions.

“We have exactly five days [for installation each week] to clean and add huge props, attempt to get everyone through insane quick changes, add numbers to the show if necessary, drive cars, trains, helicopters, ride on fish, fall in ponds and wells, cast spells, have pyro on skates, disappear, reappear, be a dragon, walrus, panda, the list goes on and on,” Grosscup said, who is in her fifth year as choreographer. “In the end, it is over the top hilarity!” Continue reading

Dance2Ice Barre: Moves in the Field

AIT is all about bringing dance to ice.

The Dance2Ice Barre class teaches the foundational tools needed to apply full body movement to figure skating maneuvers. Once a skater has gained proficiency executing skills in the basic two-dimensional realm (linear movement), D2I teaches how to engage the core while moving through three dimensional space (using all levels of the body).

By learning this skill set, a skater establishes an entirely new vocabulary of movement as they gain body awareness and increased mobility. This type of movement is especially important as skaters begin leveled step sequences where they must use full body movement to receive their desired level.

Alongside AIT’s D21 curriculum (promo vid here), another aspect of the program is taking Moves in the Field patterns and revolutionizing them by applying these newfound principles.

In a Level 1 demonstration video below, skaters use a preliminary MIF pattern — the alternating backward crossovers to back outside edges.

Notice the skaters using their core to initiate the movement as they use all levels of their body with their arms, mid-section and knee bend. This not only increases the difficulty in performing the movement, but also adds interest to the audience witnessing the maneuver (a win-win for all involved!).

For some other demonstration demos, check them out here:

Level 2 demo:

Level 4 demo:

Have you tried these Dance2Ice exercises? What other MIF patterns can you make Dance2Ice style? Film your own today and we will feature them on AIT’s Facebook page!