By Joanne Greco Rochman

No longer do skaters need to choose between skating and acting. They can do theater on ice! That’s right the Danbury Ice Cabaret Ensemble (D.I.C.E.) is a competitive team that brings together the art of skating with the art of acting. A relatively new discipline for figure skating, the grace of skating and dance are combined with the drama of theater in this highly competitive team event.  It is nothing short of excitement on ice.

Gianine Craw is the head coach and founder of Danbury, Connecticut’s Ice Cabaret Ensemble. “I started this to broaden the skating experience,” said Craw adding that it’s a team effort, but allows each individual skater the opportunity to hone their presentation skills as well as their ability to use expression in their skating.  “I love theater and I love skating so I thought that by bringing the two together, not only could I enjoy coaching both, but this would make it possible for skaters who can no longer compete at an elite level the opportunity to continue skating competitively in a different format.”

Most of the productions use original scripts, music, and are full productions with elaborate sets, props, and colorful costumes. “We’ve used stories from books like ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and we’ll be doing our own original story ‘The Toys Come To Life at Midnight,’ though we don’t have a formal title yet, so we’re using this as a working title” said Craw. The teams are comprised of anywhere from eight to 30 skaters of all ages who are skilled well enough to skate as they convey the storyline of the theater event.  Theater on ice is growing in popularity in America, though it has been going on much longer in Europe. What is so special about this form of ice-skating is that skaters can compete nationally and internationally in this medium.

dice group Theater On Ice: Spotlight On Danbury Ice Cabaret Ensemble

(courtesy of Gianine Craw /

As a matter of fact, Craw said that Danbury’s competitive theater team recently captured the gold medal in Blaine, Minnesota on July 29, 2011 at the International Skating Institute’s World Recreational Team Championships. According to their website, this season, the team will compete at various regional competitions and perform in local ice shows before heading to Dallas, TX in July 2012 for the next ISI World Team Championships.

Actors and skaters interested in this artistic experience should know that this is not a quick rehearsal and performance schedule. The team starts rehearsing in October and practices for ten months out of the year.  “Because time on ice is so expensive we meet once a week on Wednesday nights and I often work with my skaters off the ice in preparation for a performance.” In addition to honing skating skills with this talented coach, the members of D.I.C.E. get acting lessons from Broadway actress Jan Neuberger, who appeared in “Wicked.” Anyone interested in auditioning for the team should contact Gianine Craw at

Danbury Arena
One Independence Way
Danbury, CT 06810-2620
(203) 794-1704

Joanne Greco Rochman is the arts editor of “The Fairfield County Review,” a columnist, critic, feature story writer and English professor. Her work has appeared in “The New York Times,” “The Republican-American” and Hersam-Acorn Publications. She can be reached at:


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