Stage & Dance

Hockey-loving girl grew up to be a princess with 'Disney on Ice'

Carly Donowick dreamed of being a hockey player but became a Disney princess. Sleeping Beauty's Aurora, to be precise.

When she was growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., hockey was the family's primary pastime. Her dad was a coach, and everybody played.

But Donowick also was drawn to figure skating and took the sparkly costume route. And that led, three years ago, to a chance to be part of Disney on Ice.

Now, for eight shows a week, she is, to some, really a princess.

"It's really exciting to see because to these kids, I'm Aurora," Donowick said. "It's big."

She and several other Disney princesses are at Rupp Arena in Lexington this weekend for Disney on Ice: Princess Classics.

The Disney theme-park tradition of creating in-depth characters continues with the ice shows.

"I wouldn't exactly call it princess training," Donowick said, "but we spend a lot of time with character books trying to make our skating style fit each princess."

"They all have those little traits that should show through your skating," she said. For instance, Aurora is more outgoing, and Cinderella is more elegant and refined.

But even a princess stumbles sometimes. "I've had hair falling off, costumes falling off."

And the worst thing that could have happened once did, she said: She fell during a show and "slid pretty much from one side of the ice to the other."

When things like that happen, "you just get the gasps," she said. "You really just have to laugh at yourself and carry on."

More in synch than ever

Part of the Disney on Ice show that might go unnoticed to the untrained eye is the showcasing of synchronized skating.

A fast-growing part of competitive figure skating, synchronized skating employs teams of eight to 20 skaters who perform synchronized routines, much like the more familiar synchronized swimming.

Although it's not an Olympic sport, synchronized skating had its first U.S. championships in 1984; the first world championships were in 2000. Next month, teams from all over the country will converge on Colorado Springs, Colo., for the 2010 national competition.

In synchronized skating, lines of skates move as one; elements include blocks, circles, wheels, lines, intersections and spins; and routines are judged much like individual or pairs skating.

Donowick said it's a way for good skaters who don't fit the mold of the individual or pairs competitions to compete. And, she said, as the sport continues to gain in popularity there are increasingly some scholarships available to good colleges for synchronized skating teams.

Teamwork and diversity

A lot of teamwork goes into the show, she said, but it's the differences among the cast that make it interesting.

During the Winter Olympics in Vancouver last month, the Disney on Ice troupe was on the road, and there was much backstage bragging among the multinational cast. Any time someone had a spare minute, they were glued to the coverage.

"It was great. We have so many people rooting for so many different countries," she said.

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