Enchanting Audiences In Unexpected Venues With Glisse On Ice
You may find them at the center of an intricately decorated ballroom, inside of an elegant castle in the center of Toronto, city rooftops, winter festivals or wedding receptions. Who are they? The Glisse Skaters of Glisse on Ice headed by the creative entrepreneur, Chantal Fry. Chantal is bringing the art of skating to the most unexpected places using the most innovative synthetic ice surface, gorgeous costumes and performers of all different disciplines. Chantal's story will inspire all creatives to take that leap of faith solely motivated on pure passion.
What is your skating story?
Chantal: I fell in love with skating the moment I stepped on the ice at about 5 years old in Toronto. It felt like I was flying and I was instantly hooked. I gravitated towards the creative side of skating but had to work really hard on the technical side. Training each summer in Lake Placid helped me to improve and really focus on my skills as well as make great friends. I was later invited to compete and train in France, I loved how no matter where I was in the world the skating community was like a family. I was asked to perform in the Saturday night shows in Lake Placid and a choreographer from Vegas took me aside and said have you ever considered show skating? I had no idea what that was! I set off to audition for shows and landed a spot on the Holiday on Ice tour. I fell in love with Europe and stayed once the tour was over. While Travelling back and forth between shows in Canada and Europe when I was 22 I had a little surprise and discovered I was pregnant with twins! I stayed in the South of France to have my babies and a year later was asked to perform at the Lido de Paris.
What has been your most memorable experience working as a professional ice skater?
Chantal: Le Lido de Paris is without a doubt the best show skating experience of my life. To be surrounded by so much glamour at an Iconic Cabaret on Les Champs Elyses in Paris was beyond measure. I would stand backstage in my skates watching these gorgeous feathered showgirls twirl about and soak in the sheer magnificence of it all. Skating on a tiny surface was very intimidating at first but then I loved the idea of skating on stage and out of context. The idea was born when I was stuck up in the rafters of Le Lido before they would lower me down onto the stage to skate.
When did you fall in love with performing on ice?
Chantal: I fell in love with skating the moment I stepped on the ice. Performing was a gradual build between dance, theatre and the arts training but the turning point was the shows in Lake Placid while still competing and when my Dad took me to the Lido when I was 14. I saw the adagio team and dreamed of skating on a stage one day... I knew I could never be a world champion but I dreamed of being a showgirl.
What inspired you to create Glisse On Ice?
Chantal: The idea was born when I was performing at Le Lido de Paris and I was stuck up 50 feet above in the rafters before they would lower me down to skate on this tiny ice rink that would rise up to meet the dance stage. That and the images from the Vaudeville days of the Ice Follies, Toller Cranston, John Curry, Jean Pierre Martin and Le Cirque du Soleil all inspired me profoundly.
What is Glisse On Ice?
Chantal: What Glisse is not world famous yet? Kidding.. The hustle is REAL! Glisse on Ice brings the art of skating to places you least expect using a custom made synthetic ice surface and giant snow globe as a medium. Glisse was voted best event entertainment in Canada a huge honour.
What has your entrepreneurial journey been like creating Glisse On Ice?
Chantal: Painful and fueled by passion for the art of skating..... But something in me would just not quit. I loved to perform and felt that skating could be magnificent out of context. I was ridiculed and told that using synthetic ice would never create the same effect as ice.. which is true. But our unique custom surface allows me to have Glisse girls skate inside giant snow globes and dazzle people with the grace and beauty of skating when they are not expecting it at all. Trial and error and error. Bad costume choices and not enough resources to see my vision come to fruition did not stop me. I could not convince skaters to skate on plastic in Canada. But then I found those magical people who understand my vision, these incredibly creative skaters who are willing to move out of their comfort zones and train with me in the glisse studio. They glow when they perform the Glisse shows and we gather and share personal stories and created a Glisse family. It is the people who support and believe in you during an entrepreneurial journey that really count. The Glisse skaters call me the Glisse mama and that is my greatest accomplishment just after my twin girls.
What was the first performance for Glisse On Ice?
Chantal: The First gig was in France for the mayor of Marseille, then we continued to tour and landed on the front page of every newspaper from Saint Tropez to Paris. It was bliss. The first gig in Canada was for 500 Lawyers and the ice fell apart..... But my husband sprang out form backstage and fixed the surface while we were skating and it was fantastic just like him. The Glisse ice has greatly improved since then!
What value do you intend to bring to the skating world with Glisse?
Chantal: Glisse on Ice is exploring the idea of taking skating out of context. But above that, I am grateful to work with extraordinary skating talent. Young skaters who are not afraid to push the boundaries, use the skills they acquired on ice and share that with others. I believe in family and collaboration and healthy relationships and the things we share in the Glisse studio, backstage and on ice are magic. Some of the bigger shows I toured with were very anxiety inducing and raised alot of issues for me and other skaters. I did not want to create that kind of environment for the skaters in my shows.
What is your truth as an entrepreneur in a creative niche?
Chantal: Everyone says do what you love! Be your own boss! But what does that actually mean? Sacrifice, investment of time, money and passion. Working 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Being an entrepreneur is a very challenging task and all consuming. You have to be willing to give up everything and free fall without a safety net. You are vulnerable to being ridiculed, copied and failing with no one to blame but yourself. But when your ideas come to fruition and you have amazing clients, fantastic people on your team and pure synergy... life is grand! There is no greater reward than to have the privilege of doing what you love. Glisse on Ice is growing with exciting new projects that will take me back to Europe and finally get to work with amazing skaters in the US. New York has been a dream of mine for a long time.... Then I would love to have Glisse on Ice in every city so I can finally work with all the amazing skaters from around the Globe who message me and would love to work with Glisse!
What has been your favorite gig?
Chantal: Glisse performs over 100 small productions a year. I love every single one of them because each client is unique. I love the Glisse snow Globe even though the logistics are a nightmare! But Casa Loma is truly an honour. To perform in a Castle for the winter holidays is bliss.
What inspires you as a creator?
Chantal: Traveling and wandering through museums in Europe, the symphony, any stage production, boating, hot yoga and books. Guy Laliberte the creator of Cirque du Soleil all my dancing and skating coaches. My mom and Dad who created a succesful buinsess from scratch, my twin daughters who are both musicians and talented artists, my Glisse skaters and my husband who has set up hundreds of Glisse shows and talks me through the ups and downs of running a creative business every day.
How do you see the future of ice skating?
Chantal: Figure Skating is once again at a very exciting time with amazing talent on the world competitive stage but..there is still work to do in getting a younger demographic back to attending live figure skating competitions in North America and if that doesn't happen it could be a risk to the sport. But form an ice show point of view; social media is a platform that allows so much talent to enveil itself! I am amazed at all the skills and unique creative measures skaters are using to share their passion for the ice. From Snowy ice trails to Freestyle on Ice groups, it is truly exciting and incredibly inspiring. I am obsessed with the filming styles of On Ice Perspectives. The community of figure skaters is fascinating, in a highly competitive sport, there is a shared common thread for our love of skating and that is a strength. Show skating allows everyone to work on the performance side, even if they do not become Olympic champions, there are limitless opportunties for every skater to perfect their art on blades and showcase that, I hope they chose Glisse on Ice to do that!
What is YOUR skating truth?
Chantal: Figure skating is without a doubt the most gorgeous sport on the planet. It is perfection when you are at the top of your game. But what happens when you are not? With that comes a parade of issues; eating disorders, mental health issues and broken dreams that some do not recover from. As a woman and mother I struggle with the impact that has on young women and have a very open and honest policy in the Glisse studio. Some shows I skated in, weighed skaters and would deduct pay if they had gained a few pounds. It was a completely humiliating process that lead to bullying of the "fat girls" and admiration of the "skinny girls". That behaviour is unacceptable in society and so should not be the norm anywhere. Of course as athletes and performers our bodies are our tools and must be sharpened and capable of executing whatever is expected of us; from quad jumps to g-strings, but we are also human beings. There needs to be an open dialogue about the impact that has on the person and Glisse on Ice embodies that conversation in a truly non judgemental environment. I struggled with insecurities when I had to hand over the very costumes and Glisse choreography I created for myself to younger, fitter girls and realized that I was judging myself for my age and that I truly loved the Glisse skaters like my children, I could never resent them, I wanted to share Glisse with others! It was at that time I began a journey of letting go and I started doing Burlesque shows on an 8ft by 8ft skating surface to push through the stigma in an accepting creative environment. The response from other women was overwhelming and I was a feature performer at prestigious Burlesque Festivals after turning 40. With Glisse on Ice, I wanted to prove to myself and other women that there was no perfect skater and that it can be a diverse, inclusive and creative outlet for all those who just simply love to perform on blades and share that with others.
You can find more information about Chantal and Glisse On Ice at www.glisseonice.com.