It’s every little girls’ dream job! Yolande, 26, gets paid to skate her way around the world with the most popular Princesses ever, as part of the Disney on Ice presents Treasure Trove show.
Yolande has been skating her way around the world for Disney on Ice productions for more than five years. We got our skates on and snow ploughed our way through a list of icy questions to find out how she scored the ultimate gig, what it’s really like working with Belle, Alice in Wonderland and Ariel, and what advice she’s got for others considering similar ‘touring’ career paths…
So, Princess Skatey 180…. what’s a typical day like?
“Treasure Trove is an amazing show to work on. I’m an ensemble skater so I am able to travel the world with the show and skate in all the big scenes – with eight Disney Princess, Cinderella, Jasmine, Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)… I also swim with Ariel, do the Round Up in Toy Story, skate with Rapunzel and the Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland and more.”
The Disney Princesses… what are they really like?
“The cast and crew get along really well, no one ever gets tired of each other – it’s actually awesome! I’ve made some life-long friends from America, Sweden, Russia, The Ukraine, Canada, Japan, everywhere! The team is made up of all different ages – some skaters are in their 40s, others are in their 20s, we even have a 19 year-old! It’s a great mix and you’d never even know our ages because we are all young at heart! Disney keeps us so young playing all these wonderful characters.”
Your fiancé is in the show too? Is he a total Prince to work with? Or a frog!?
“My fiancé is a Principal skater – he plays Scar and Snow White’s Prince. It’s really lovely being able to work and travel together. It sounds funny but we really love it – we work together, sleep together, have the same friends – it’s the perfect amount of together!”
How did you both score the ultimate Disney On Ice gig?
“We were both studying at the time – I was studying Dance and Konrad was studying Sports Management – when we went to see a Disney On Ice show. We looked at each other and said, ‘Why don’t we give it a try?’ So we sent Disney On Ice a DVD of the two of us performing spins and jumps. We received an email back within six days saying a contract was on its way! We were really surprised and happy!”
World Tours: exciting or tiring? “I never, ever get tired of watching the little faces of children light up with excitement as the show begins. We’ve done nine months on road in the US, but it all depends on the venues and countries we are touring as to how many performances we’ll do. For example, in Australia, we’ll tour for 10 weeks but then have a month off before we head to New Zealand to tour there, and then South America. So far we have toured the USA, Canada, Philippines, Japan, Macau, China, Thailand and Singapore.”
Breaking the ice: How did you get into skating?
“I started when I was about 6 years-old. As a child, I had hip problems – when I’d walk my toes would face inwards. The doctor told my parents figure skating could help, because the first thing trainers teach you is to walk like a duck! That is, heels together, toes out, and taking small little steps. It was 100% effective and within no time I was walking perfectly.
I immediately loved the feeling you get from being on ice – it’s incredible. You can go as fast as you possibly can, it’s like the ice is yours… You can be your own choreographer, your thoughts are your own… it’s amazing!
I’d wake up at 4am four times a week for a 5am skating class. My parents were really supportive and would take it in turns driving me to the nearest ice rink, which was 40 mins away from where we lived. It was a family effort. I thank them at every chance! I started competing when I was age 8 in national competitions and then internationally at age 10. Being a teenager and missing out on late night movies with friends and social events was hard, but we made it work.”
“Being on the show, having the opportunity to travel with friends, my fiancé, experience new cultures, see the kid’s faces face light up when we come out…. It’s a very rewarding job.”
Any ice-crushing moments?
“Well, I am a woman and I love my clothes and shoes, but I only get to travel with one suitcase with a total weight of 22kg – not great since my skates weigh 5kg! It is very hard to know what to pack – and if I buy something new, it means leaving something else behind, because I will be over weight.”
Has travelling the world affected any plans for Motherhood?
“I always said I wanted to have children by age 25, but of course every year I push it back! But it’s been my choice to postpone it, something I want to do not ‘have to do’. My fiancé and I still have a few years of skating to go! We’ve had so many life lessons on this journey and for now we want to keep touring. I’d still like to get more experience in certain fields and am sure when Konrad and are ready for children, we’ll know!”
When the ice thaws…. What next?
“It’s something all skates have to consider, a Plan B in the awful event that something were to happen, like breaking a toe and not being able to skate for months. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but it’s good for women considering a career path like mine to have an education to fall back on. When I eventually retire, I’d love to open a big skating rink for figure skaters, speed skaters and ice hockey in South Africa to help young people train and get to the Olympics. For me, skating is all about a sense of community – I’d love to keep coaching and help ice skating grow in South Africa.”
Advice for other women wanting to be a traveling Princess?
“If you have a dream, pursue it. Some people are scared of travelling a lot with their career, but don’t be scared to take the chance. I’m not the biggest lover of flying, but I am a figure skater and am always excited about going to the next city and seeing the kids.”
Where & when: Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove is opening in Perth on 29 Mayand travels toAdelaide, Wollongong, Newcastle, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney until 13 July. For more info on Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove, visit www.disneyonice.com.au
Tickets: To book tickets from Ticketek call 132 849 or visit www.ticketek.com.au/disneyonice. Tickets start from just $29.50. Additional discounts apply.