Skaters talk about wanting to someday find – or create – a place where they can train on ice, have access to dance classes, and display their improving skills in regular performances. It makes me smile because I had all of that in my first show – back in 1954.
Everything about the experience was totally new but I realized even then that the Casa Carioca in Garmisch, Germany, was something very special. The ice show was in a night club built by the U.S. Army in the Bavarian Alps in the late 1940s for the entertainment of military forces on leave. Diners sat on three tiers around a 30 ft X 40 ft rink that would be covered by a moveable floor for dancing. A 17-member live orchestra played above the stage set.
Terry Rudolph was a tiny take-charge Hungarian/American dancer who didn’t skate. But for twenty years she handled all aspects of creating the shows with her casts of around 35 skaters – direction, choreography, costuming, lighting, music, etc. All of us were beneficiaries of her often blunt demands for improvement in stage presence, make-up, correct ballet positions, and proper hand movements on the ice. (Boy, did she hate unpointed toes and stiff, unexpressive hands that looked like “shovels”!)
Terry regularly gave dance classes in the Casa’s spacious ballet room, and every day she spent hour after hour beside the ice personally polishing principal skaters and creating new choreography. She was a star maker with a talent for developing new soloists and pairs, many of whom were sent on to great success in big U.S. and European ice shows.
The Casa Carioca was a great place to finally fulfill my long-held dream of getting in a show. On the way to work each evening during my year and a half there, I’d look up at the snow-capped mountains and say thank you.
Posted by: Roy Blakey Last modified on: 11/18/2005