All photos by Chris Robart
If you’ve ever been in Toronto near the end of summer, you’ve likely heard of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE); also known as The Ex, Canada’s largest annual fair. There are tons of attractions, including a dog show, rides, games, and deep-fried everything. The ice show is one of the main events with 6,000 seats full—often an hour before the 30-minute show even begins.
This year I entered the professional figure skating world with my first contract being the CNE. As someone who usually avoids large crowds I had never been to the Ex to watch the ice show before and I hadn't realized just how amazing this production was.
I was immediately dazzled by the other performers I was sharing the ice with upon rehearsals. Seasoned professional figure skaters have a certain kind of polish that differentiates them from competitive skaters because show skating is more concerned with the aesthetic side of the sport. On that note, this doesn’t mean show skating isn’t technically strong—many soloists still perform almost every triple jump.
In this show we had aerialists and acrobats from Cirque du Soleil, a “Fours” skating team (see photos below), singles, pairs (me with partner, Ryan Shollert), and here’s the best part: 3-time World Champion and Olympic Silver medalist, Elvis Stojko.
I cannot describe the mix of extreme excitement and nerves I was feeling the first week during rehearsals! It was very clear that I was working, not only beside brilliant skaters, but also under the direction of highly skilled and accomplished visionaries. Roselle Doyle, our choreographer worked diligently with the cast and production team to ensure a successful show was delivered. Together, our show director; Melanie Royer, and line captain; Gladys Orozco, provided constant encouragement, feedback, and support.
In order to stay focused, and not allow my nerves get the best of me, I drew from my goal coaching experience and pulled out some performance tools that I normally talk about with the skaters I’m coaching or delivering workshops to.
Here are 3 tools that helped me stay energized, present, and performance ready:
I set the tone for my day ahead as soon as I wake up in the morning. I practice a short 5-minute meditation, focusing on my breathing. Then I take about 20 minutes to write in my gratitude journal. Lastly, I write out three motivational affirmations that I consistently use.
Any moment where I caught myself starting to feel overwhelmed with wanting to be “perfect”, I would remind myself why I was there in the first place; to learn and develop my skating in a new way, to skate and perform merely because I LOVE doing so, and to simply take in and enjoy every moment of this uniquely wonderful experience.
Essential Oils & Aromatherapy:
Aside from using essential oils as part of my daily health routine, I also used them to maintain a focused and calm mind. To enhance my physical performance I use the Respiratory blend to open my airways and maintain clear breathing while I’m skating. I use the Deep Blue Rub to soothe sore muscles in my legs, back and neck at the end of each day. To keep my energy high, my focus sharp, and my nerves calm I blended lavender, peppermint, and lemon together and applied topically to the back of my neck, temples, and behind my ears (this combo smells divine and also works great as a natural perfume!).
These tools allowed me to support myself and consistently perform 36 shows in 18 days to the best of my ability. Furthermore, they heightened my entire experience as a performer in the CNE ice show from beginning to end.
*Find more of Chris Robart's photos from the performance here