The St. Petersburg State Ice Ballet from Russia will return to the Lied Center to present two works Dec. 13 and 14 at the Lied Center.
The Nutcracker is scheduled for 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 13 and Swan Lake at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 14. Both works are by Tchaikovsky.
The St. Petersburg State Ice Ballet, which debuted in 1967 performing The Nutcracker, combines classical dance and figure skating. The troupe uses a compact ice rink far smaller than those of other ice shows.
The Nutcracker opens with children celebrating the Christmas holiday. A doll maker, Drosselmeier, tries to give one of the children his favorite toy, a nutcracker in the shape of a doll, but because it is ugly, the child nor any of the other children want it. Clara, however, feels sorry for Drosselmeier and accepts the doll as a gift.
After midnight, Clara is transformed into a princess and travels through the Kingdom of Sweets with her prince, the nutcracker.
Swan Lake also is about a prince and princess. As Prince Sigfried celebrates his 21st birthday, his mother informs him of his new responsibilities - he will become king - and tells him that he must choose a bride. After his birthday party, he decides to go hunting by a lake, where he watches a swan become a beautiful woman.
The woman, Odetta, tells Sigfried that she is only in human form from midnight to dawn and that true love alone will save her. The man who will marry her and be loyal forever will break the spell she is under.
Preparing the ice rink on the Lied Center stage and then removing it when the troupe is finished is a complex job.
After the troupe arrives, 5 tons of crushed ice is poured into a specially designed, self-refrigerated rink. The ice is sprayed with mist every 20 minutes for 12 hours to create a smooth skating surface.
According to Lee Taylor, Lied Center technical director, the water slips between the ice chips and freezes. "It freezes in layers, and then we let gravity do its trick."
After the performances, the ice is broken up with sledge hammers and carted outside in wheelbarrows.
On Dec. 12, Lawrence area elementary school children will be invited to watch the creation of the ice rink and to tour the Lied Center.
Tickets for the ice ballet performances are on sale at the Lied Center box office, (785) 864-ARTS; Murphy Hall box office, (785) 864-3982; Student Union Activities, Kansas Union, (785) 864-3477; KU Medical Center bookstore; and TicketMaster, (785) 234-4545.
All seats are reserved.
Tickets are $20 and $15 for the public; $10 and $7.50 for KU, Haskell Indian Nations University and K-12 students; and $19 and $14 for senior citizens and other students.