I’ve never been to Ice Capades, and I’m in the wrong age category to fully appreciate Disney on Ice. However, in 1999, when the opportunity arose to audition for Disney, I jumped at the chance to be the next Snow White or Cinderella.
As I strolled into the Winnipeg Arena, I thought the try-out would be easy-breeze. Some jumps and spins, and be awarded a fantastic job with Disney.
That’s not quite what happened.
Once I found the audition area, which was sectioned off with a dark navy velvet curtain, I barely had the chance to verify my name and address, when a woman with a clipboard told me to undress so I could be weighed and measured. I slowly undressed in front of her, and about twelve other hopefuls, and began to regret my newest adventure. I shivered in my tights and bra, as I stood on the scale.
I stepped off the scale to the sounds of the clipboard lady sighing, as she madly scribbled something down. She made the comment if I were really in a show, I’d be fined for my weight. At 5’5”, I’m also tall for a figure skater, would they fine me for that, too?
The man who would help decide our fates appeared. Decision Man said he wasn’t necessarily looking for the most technical skater [I had a chance], but someone who could relate to an audience. Someone who could smile. Someone who could reach into a crowd and pull a person into a performance.
So, think Elizabeth Manley, not Oscar the Grouch. Got it.
The ice surface was set up with the Disney on Ice background, which made the experience even more amazing. It also cut the arena’s ice size down two-thirds. After a few warm-up laps, I began to realize my skates were dull. They hadn’t been sharpened in a few years and were rough when I turned.
Sadly, jumps and spins were not first on Decision Man’s agenda. He wanted to see how we followed choreography. It’s hard to see what you’re supposed to do when you can’t see the choreographer because you’re off time because your skates are dull, and you’re just not that polished because you’re trying to stay upright. After about 15 minutes, Decision Man wanted spins and jumps. Finally, my time to shine!
It’s funny how people try to run you over when there’s a job dressed up as a Disney character at stake. After I did a few jumps and spins, and dodged out of the way of someone’s double-Axel and triple-toe, Decision Man said for the finale, he wanted to see the biggest jump we could all do, one by one. For me, that was the double-toe, which didn’t develop. I had another chance, so I did a single Axel.
I’ll never forget the look on his face. I was so happy to land it. I hadn’t skated in a year, and for me it was validation. I stopped and looked at him with this, well, Goofy grin. He tilted his head, and said, “thanks,” and snorted through his nose.
We were then released from the ice. We were told it would take up to six weeks for a decision, and it wouldn’t be a definite yes or no. The no’s would be, shall we say, sprinkled with sugar and dusted with gold so you magically believe it be a yes!
As I walked out, I knew I’d be receiving a big ol’pile of gold dust in my mailbox.
About six weeks later, I got my “sprinkled with sugar” letter.
I’m still waiting for it to turn into a pumpkin!