Bay Country Figure Skating Club uses ‘Pure Imagination’

Ann Hatfield, center, is the White Queen in Bay Country Figure Skating Club’s “Pure Imagination on Ice” at Harrington’s Centre Ice Rink. The show encapsulates Disney tales from “Moana,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan” and “Aladdin.” (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

HARRINGTON — See the stories of some of Disney’s fantastical favorites come to life this weekend at the Centre Ice Rink with the Bay Country Figure Skating Club’s ”Pure Imagination on Ice” performance.

The show encapsulates tales from “Moana,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan” and “Aladdin.”

“If you’re young or old, you’ll love the show because it has something for everyone and if you haven’t seen a new movie like ‘Moana,’ you’ve definitely seen ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or ‘Peter Pan,’” said 21-year-old Sequoia Bernard of Delmar, Md.

She’s one of nearly 70 skaters in the show performing original choreography with elaborate costumes and scenery

“It’s definitely a long and involved process,” said Jerry Santoferrara, skating director at the Centre Ice Rink, who has been working on the production with three other skating coaches since January.

The show’s co-director Tom Harrison plays Captain Hook while Clair Kearns is Peter Pan. The production is performed tonight and twice on Saturday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

His team develops everything from the theme to the choreography and assigns, then teaches each of the roles.

“It’s great because it gets everyone involved,” he said. “We are working on sets and costumes right alongside parents, board members, friends and whoever else is willing to help.”

While the final touches are being added, the skaters are training steadily to be ready for the show.

“We are always working hard to get better, whether it’s working on our technique or working to get ready for a show,” said 12-year-old Ava Runz. “And it’s really exciting to be able to show everyone that we are getting better.”

Some like showing judges their improvement in competitions but others prefer shows like “Pure Imagination on Ice” to showcase their skills.

“It’s so exciting to do performances,” Ms. Bernard said. “I do competitions too but performances are a lot less stressful and a lot more fun because you’re focused on putting on a good, entertaining show, not stressing out about every little thing about your technique that could go wrong.”

Sofia Stetcher, 11, of Easton, Md. agrees that performances are more relaxing than competitions.

Sofia Stecher-Roberts, center, plays the part of Abu in the Bay Country Ice Skating Club production of “Pure Imagination on Ice.” (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“Just gliding on the ice is such a relaxing thing,” she said. “Skating is really stress relieving and if I’m not worrying about being judged, I can just feel free and enjoy myself. And this show is a lot of fun, which makes it even better.”

Some other skaters actually prefer a competitive atmosphere to a purely artistic one.

“I actually like competitions better than performances because I’m a competitive person and I like to win,” said 18-year-old Makenna Mounts of Harrington. “But in a performance there is the teamwork aspect, which is good because if you only do competitions, you do a lot alone and don’t get the chance to work with others.”

Many of the skaters enjoy that skating gives them opportunities to learn different lessons like working hard to succeed and that sometimes you don’t succeed even if you practice a lot.

“It’s definitely hard to not always be successful, especially in competitions, but one of the great things about skating is that you can keep working on something and eventually get there. You just have to be humble and know that you won’t get everything perfect every time,” Ms. Bernard said.

Bay Country Figure Skating Club has been performing two big shows a year since Mr. Santoferrara arrived at the Centre Ice Rink a decade ago.

Ryleigh Sheehan, second from left, rehearses with other members of the Bay Country Skating Club for the weekend production.

“I was planning on coming in a few months but the previous director left unexpectedly, just weeks before a big show, so I had to step in and my first task was to get this show together,” he said. “So I’ve basically been all in since day one.”

Mr. Santoferrara came with the mission to show the community all that skating has to offer and to provide the best opportunities for all those who wanted to skate regardless of age or ability.

“There’s more to skating than just going to the Olympics and we want people to know that there’s a lot to it, not just figure skating, but there’s also ice dancing, group options, theater opportunities and it’s not just for kids,” he said.

Providing these opportunities started with teacher training and Tom Harrison was one of the coaches at Bay Country that Mr. Santoferrara mentored.

“It was really all about being open minded. I had to be willing to relearn technique and become a better skater myself so I

Nine-year-old Paisley Garland, of Denton, Md., is featured as Pua. Tickets for the weekend performances will be available at the door.

could become a better coach and 10 years later, we have trained a lot of successful skaters,” Mr. Harrison said.

Two of the club’s former skaters are on the national collegiate team, others have gone on to become coaches or to skate in adult competitions and current skaters perform in several shows a year and compete regularly.

The goal of the club now is raising awareness and letting people know that they welcome new skaters. You just have to try it out.

“At 50, I started from the beginning with the tots,” said Cindy Mullarkey of Milford.

She skated briefly in early childhood and again in college as an elective and only got into skating regularly nine years ago.

“My daughter dragged me out to come skating with her and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it sooner since the ice rink is right here,” she said. “A member of the adult group here approached me and suggested that I join their group so I started basically from scratch and I love it. It keeps me young.”

But Ms. Mullarkey herself is a youngster to some in the skating community. Mr. Harrison’s oldest student is 71 years old and the oldest competitive skater in the region is over 80.

The youngest ones in “Pure Imagination on Ice” are under 10 and the broad age range gives everyone a new perspective.

“It can definitely be a little frustrating working with the little ones when there are so many people to coordinate but I think it really improves your communication skills and they look up to us and we need to set a good example because they will be in the same spot as us one day,” Ms. Bernard said.

Most skaters who take up the sport end up skating year round although the Centre Ice Rink is closed June through August.

“During the summers we go up to Newark and do skate camps,” Ava said.

Skating coach Sequoia Bernard rehearses with cast of “Pure Imagination” at Centre Ice Rink in Harrington Wednesday night. She also plays the part of the Genie in Aladdin. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“We really love skating so we want to do it all the time and it’s a sport where you have to build up skill. So if you get good at one move in May, you don’t want to wait until September to work on it again. So doing it all year, we’re able to keep getting better.”

“Pure Imagination on Ice” will be performed at the Centre Ice Rink at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington tonight at 6 and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. Order tickets online at delawarestatefair.com or at the door.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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