VILNIUS - Lithuanians are fond of a good extravaganza and they certainly don't come much more extravagant than Ice Flames. Champion ice-skaters Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas are now into the fifth year of their ice-skating showcase which has proven hugely popular with sports-mad Lithuanians. Ice Flames is a chance to let Drobiazko and Vanagas dazzle audiences with their astonishing, gravity-defying routines.
The couple have participated in every world championship since 1992, as well as the last four Olympic Games, and have amassed an impressive tally of medals along the way. They were also recently voted the most popular couple in Lithuania and their marriage is a regular feature in Lithuanian gossip magazines.
Among their distinguished role call of trainers and choreographers are the legendary British Olympic champions Torville and Dean, with whom they went on tour in the 1994/1995 Face the Music World Tour.
"It was exciting for us to work with a couple who were not afraid of trying new ideas. They never said: "Oh we can't do that" or "That's not possible," Torville said. "They just go out and do it, and that's what impressed us."
The couple were skating partners for some 17 years before marrying in 2000. They started out in forced circumstances back in the days of the Soviet Union, which used to routinely win virtually every skating medal going in competition.
Vanagas explained how he and Drobiazko met: "It was in the days of the old Soviet Union and all boys were required to go to the Soviet Army. I did not want to go so far from my home, but I had no choice but to go to Moscow. So I went and was given the choice of either being in the army or taking up skating full time because I could skate. I decided to skate and was partnered with Rita [Drobiazko]. For Rita I was very amateur, not at all worthy of her former partners. At the beginning there were tears and conflicts. It is only now that I realize how patient and forgiving Rita was."
However, the couple found their groove amid the turbulent years following the break up of the Soviet Union and have faithfully represented Lithuania in competition ever since. Their performances have attracted widespread praise for their innovative dance routines and spectacular costumes which Drobiazko designs herself.
They are accompanied on the Ice Flames tour by an impressive cast of fellow-skaters in a thrillingly choreographed two-hour set of dance routines that will make your head swirl from all the acrobatics. A great way to get into the festive spirit.
Vilnius, Dec. 10
Utenos Entertainment Center,
3 p.m. & 7 p.m.