Welland skater stars in first Cirque du Soleil ice skating show

Cirque du Soleil performers will be heading to St. Catharines, bringing with them what promises to be the company’s coolest arena show to date.

Hjordis Lee, from Welland, never imagined in her wildest dreams when she started skating at the age of seven that she would be one of those performers, with eight performances scheduled between 30 June and July 3 at the Meridian Centre.

“Crystal” takes audiences on a journey through a whimsical frozen playground where the art of circus and the world of ice skating intersect with acrobatics and aerial feats.

Starring the title role Crystal, Lee describes her character as “a misfit who doesn’t quite fit in and is bullied for being different”.

“We are always in his head. One day she runs away out of sheer frustration and she comes across this frozen pond and accidentally falls through the ice,” Lee said.

When Crystal falls through the ice, the audience is in on the action as Crystal embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

“I feel like everyone can relate to her in some way,” Lee said.

“Crystal”, created by Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila, is unique in that it is Cirque du Soleil’s first and only ice show.

“Seeing the types of acrobatics mixed with the beautiful art form of skating is so completely different and unlike any other show. So (the performances are going to) be crazy and there is so much to see,” said said Lee.

The skater is looking forward to bringing the show to Niagara for its Canadian relaunch.

Lee said it was great to be back on the ice after COVID-19 forced the entire Cirque to wrap up a few remaining shows and go home for a while.

With gymnasiums, ice rinks and many other facilities locked down, continuing to train for the show was no easy task.

During the show’s downtime, Lee said she would practice at home and sometimes even rent a ballet studio when she could practice. She also took skating to the next level.

“There’s a form of frames with wheels that you can put on figure skating boots, which I started doing and it’s a very different feel to ice skating, but it was at least something which could simulate ice skating,” Lee explained.

Skating has taken Lee all over the world. Originally from Vancouver, Lee competed for many years nationally and internationally winning medals in singles, pairs and ice dance. Throughout her skating career, she also trained in ballet, contemporary, jazz and musical theater for 10 years.

“I love the creative part of skating. And being on the ice adds that extra element of freedom in how you move, having the wind and the speed and that kind of thrill factor too because it can be dangerous and we fall; I fall again today and I add this kind of danger. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush,” she said.

During her 13 years as a professional figure skater, Lee has traveled all over the world performing in various productions including Art on Ice where she had the opportunity to perform with Olympic skaters Evgeni Plushenko and Stéphane Lambiel .

She worked seven years as a soloist with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and three years in Germany as part of Phantasialand. Prior to joining Cirque du Soleil, Lee starred as Snow White in Russian Ice Stars. She joined Cirque du Soleil’s “Crystal” in February 2019 as one of the figure skaters playing the role of Crystal.

Lee hopes to continue performing all over the world and eventually have her own production company to contribute to the industry she loves so much.

Tickets are available for purchase online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/crystal.

CLARIFICATION: June 24, 2022: This article has been edited from a previously posted version to indicate that the show is relaunching in Canada.

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