arts & entertainment
The Cutting Edge
Jewish figure skaters share their passion in Disney-themed ice show.
Left to right: Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Marlin and Dory, and Woody, Jesse and Buzz are some of the Disney characters
who will appear in Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
or a time, Jamie Loper easily
could have said, "Me Tarzan, you
Jane to his wife and meant it
literally. Loper and Natasha Kuchiki have
skated together in those roles.
This time around, the phrase changes
to, "Me Aladdin, you Jasmine as they per-
form together in Disney on Ice Celebrates
100 Years of Magic, which runs Oct. 16-20
at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
"This is a celebration of the life of Walt
Disney:' says Loper, 39, in a phone call
from the road. "It contains more than
60 Disney characters in 10 different seg-
ments, starting with Pinocchio and Snow
White from the early years and going
through the personalities in Toy Story and
The Incredibles from the modern hits.
"It's a well-rounded family show that has
something for everybody, and I'm proud to
be part of the production with challenging
and intense numbers. The soundtracks are
from the original movies.
"The show opens with the genie and me
performing to the song 'You Never Had a
Friend Like Me: and we have all kinds of
aerial moves, back flips, double jumps and
Loper, who also takes on the role of
Captain Shang as his wife portrays the
title role in the Mulan segment, has skated
through Michigan many times.
While visiting Detroit to compete in the
1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships,
he was stunned standing 5 feet from
Nancy Kerrigan as she was attacked to
prevent her participation.
"When I was 11, I attended a birthday
party at my local
skating club in
Delaware and fell
in love with the
motion of skat-
ing:' Loper recalls.
"I went back for
more public ses-
sions and started
"One day, I was
Jamie Loper began
and spinning and exploring his Judaism
decided to try
after touring in Israel.
all that. I played
hockey and did
figure skating for several years, competing
at a national level in both before turning
professional in figure skating in 1996.
"I've been relentlessly skating and tour-
ing since then:'
Performances in Israel stirred his explo-
ration of Judaism.
"I had a Jewish mother who was mar-
ried to a Catholic black man in the early
1970s, and there was a lot of family tur-
moil and community pressure because
that was [considered] a new alternative
lifestyle he explains.
As a young man, I lived in the gray
area between my mother's family and my
father's family. After traveling through
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, I began reading
[about Judaism] and absorbing who I am.
It's something I continue to do, and I'm
very proud of that:'
When Loper and his wife are not work-
ing, they enjoy spending time with fam-
ily and friends and expressing artistry
"People seeing this Disney show often
feel as if
World to their
Loper, a dou-
ble gold med-
alist in U.S.
Laura Stern often
"I love switch-
ing off my per-
holidays with her
sonality for each
family via Skype.
portraying, and I'm glad I have a wife who
makes me look pretty good on ice:'
Laura Stern, who also has several parts
in the Disney show, has experienced a
different way of connecting with Judaism
while on tour. Long active with the Leo
Beck Temple in Los Angeles, she uses
Skype technology to feel a presence at
"I'm an ensemble skater in several
different numbers:' says Stern, 24, on
her first tour. "I'm a can-can girl in the
Pinocchio segment so I'm one of the
toyshop dolls, and I'm one of the brides in
the Mulan segment.
"I'm in other parts as well, but those are
the two where people can see my face.
"It's a fun environment to be around.
There's so much talent and so much ener-
gy in this show that it's always fun to do.
I love performing so every chance I get to
perform is a good time for me:'
Stern was introduced to figure skating
by her mom, who enjoyed skating as an
"I was 6 years old when I started and
loved it immediately:' says the skater, who
is single and whose many honors include
team recognition through the Theater on
Ice International Cup in France.
"I soon had a trainer, and skating
became my life. I sacrificed social activi-
ties, but I wanted to skate:'
A pairs skater for six years with train-
ing in Colorado, Stern won and placed
in a variety of events, but hip and ankle
injuries kept her off the rink for about
During time away from the ice, she
went to California State University in
Long Beach, where she earned a degree
in theater arts.
"I returned to skating to have fun and
do coaching in my last year of college
before applying to Disney," explains Stern,
who keeps a personal journal and relaxes
with yoga and sightseeing.
"I want to be in the entertainment
business. I want to act and be involved
with film and television. I also love
behind-the-scenes work, but there's a
rush when I'm in front of an audience
that I don't get from anything else.
"What's really great about this show is
that it's for everyone. We have princesses,
and we have battle scenes:'
Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years
of Magic runs Oct. 16-20 at the
Palace of Auburn Hills. Show times
are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday,
11 a.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. and 3:30
p.m. Saturday and 1 and 5 p.m.
Sunday. $20-$57. (248) 377-0100;
October 10 • 2013