Masquerade On Ice at ION International
Back in December of 2021, the Masquerade On Ice Show transformed the rink at the ION International Training Center. This arena was turned into a magical realm of sparkling snow fairies and bewitching evil witches. Skaters from all over whirled their hearts out, captivating an audience of hundreds. They took us through a journey from despair to desolation to determination, before finally leaving us with a delightful finale.
Mitra Setayesh, co-founder and COO of Ion depicts Masquerade On Ice’s storyline, “This story follows a land where sadness has fallen upon the people, similar to the COVID situation, the people are being isolated and unable to go about their lives the normal way. The snow fairy decides that she must do something to cheer her people up, deciding on a Masquerade Ball.” The audience witnesses a beautiful skater enter the stage with blonde hair, a carved crown, and a white, satin dress that hugged her figure before flaring out at the waist. She was accompanied by a companion that wore a satin purple shirt.
Together they dazzled the rink with a duet before inviting out “the little fairies to come and help them prepare for the Masquerade Ball”, says Mitra. A colorful burst of jovial energy exploded onto the stage as the young skaters rushed to help the Snow Fairy. Hand in hand these little ones whized across the rink from one corner to the next, earnest expressions holding their faces hostage. Loudoun County Student and Skater Julia depicts how her favorite part of the show was a formation during the preparations, “I really liked the clock which is a part where everyone would hold arms together and we’d move in one direction, making the clock look like it displayed a certain time.”
Mitra continues on to explain how “of course the evil witch won’t have it, so she and her gang ruin everything, freezing all of the fairies and guests that had arrived.” A group of 8 skaters shroud the rink with their all-black uniforms. They claw their way through the ice, nefariously ruining the holiday spirit of all the guests there. One by one, they freeze the fairies in the corners.
Thankfully, the snow queen rushes in with her sunshine smile and sparkling eyes, saving the day once and for all. Thereafter, the audience witnesses guests arriving from several realms of the land, a wide range of teen performers own the rink for the duration of one piece. They performed to music such as Aquatic Ambiance from Donkey Kong Country, Singin’ in The Rain by Gene Kelly, Yeah! by Usher, and Say It Right by Nelly Furtado.
We got the opportunity to interview the LCPS students who performed in the show. They recounted the technique they improved from this experience.
“I learned to keep calm and stay balanced, even when nerves strike during the show,” explains Blake.
“I learned a lot about edges and how to move precisely while turning,” depicts another skater, Julia. Better yet, 10 year old Riley says, “I mostly just had fun.”
These girls have years of experience under their belt, one girl fondly recounts how far she comes from her first memory on the ice, “Before I first stepped on the ice I had been watching my sister and felt inspired. Except, the second I stepped on the ice, [she] abruptly slid and fell right in front of everyone. Of course, after that [she] practiced and learned how to steadily skate on the ice.”
Unmistakably, none of this would have been possible without the people and facilities at ION International. Jennifer Schneble, a teacher at ION with a background in Dancing On Ice and a ‘94 Olympian tells us the motto she enforces on these kids.
“Lead, follow, or get out of the way. It’s a harsh one but it has gotten me as far as I am today.” She depicts how exciting it was to watch it all come together. They had been on a tight timeline of 7 hours to put the different elements together and the last rehearsal is always the most nail biting of all because everything could go wrong. She explains that this show was the picture of “minimum practice, for maximum efficiency and it all thankfully worked.”
During the interview with Mitra, she described her favorite part: the choreographies that took place behind the scenes of the show.
“I love how the choreo finally comes together. Our coaches do these amazing choreographies and of course it doesn’t hurt that most of them have a background in shows like Stars On Ice and Disney On Ice. They know how to choreograph. Furthermore, it’s so beautiful to witness the most beginner of our kids get to participate and have a place in the spotlight next to the high level skaters, and people love them. It makes the little ones feel like a part of everything. They realize that yeah, this is my beginning and that’s where I’m headed.”
She went on to give us a background on the origin of ION International.
“My husband and I, his name is Luiz Taifas, Olympic Figure Skater and 11 year champion of Romania, started the concept a while ago. We were thinking, why isn’t there a high caliber international level rink. Since this is the capital of the US, the Mid-Atlantic, and in close vicinity to Europe, we decided to create it ourselves. So we created this ice rink where you could come for recreational uses like public skating and it could host up to 5500 people for any indoor sports tournament or competition concert etc. Which, I think, was something we really wanted to do for our community.”
Mitra summed up the purpose of Masquerade On Ice beautifully, “We wanted to expose our community to the arts and beauty of the ice-skating world.” This absolutely magical show did that perfectly.
Article by Aishani Satia