For Queenslander Daniel Harries, ice skating was just a way to beat the heat. Now he’s touring the world with Disney On Ice.
“I grew up in Townsville, so it’s not the most likely place to start ice skating,” Daniel laughs.
“I remember I started during summer, so it was perfect, because it’s very hot and humid up there. There is an ice rink in Townsville, and it’s still open, although it’s only one third the size of an Olympic ice rink. I went with a friend one day and I liked it. One thing led to another and I started skating and gave up all the other sports I was doing.”
Daniel progressed quickly from those inauspicious beginnings as a nine-year-old. He moved to Brisbane and began training at the Boondall Figure Skating Club, and was eventually crowned Australian Junior Champion in 2001. He competed in the Junior Worlds in ’99 and ’02, and the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in 2002 and 2004.
Eventually, though, Daniel’s competitive career began to wind down — “my priorities changed, financially,” he recalls — and it looked as if it might have been time to hang up his skates. But then opportunity knocked, and it was wearing giant mouse ears.
“I had a friend I had trained with in Canada, who was actually traveling through Australia with a Disney On Ice production,” Daniel remembers. “One thing led to another and she got me to audition, and about two weeks later, I got an email to say I was in. Now it’s 10 years later and I’ve been touring the world this whole time.
“It’s not something I ever thought I would do – when I was competing, being part of a show like this wasn’t high up on my priority list. But once I got there… I had to learn a completely new set of skills, because I wasn’t competing anymore. I wasn’t performing for the judges, I was performing for the audience. I really took to it.”
Since making his Disney On Ice debut in 2004 with 100 Years of Magic, Daniel has travelled to the US, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Bangkok, Thailand and Malaysia.
After 10 years with the company (and eight years as a principal performer), Daniel has been promoted to Performance Director, which means that Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove is the last show he’ll actually skate in for the foreseeable future. Appropriately enough, he’ll take his final bow in Brisbane.
“The thing I’ve learned is, even if you have hopes and dreams of world championships and the Olympics, it’s not the end of the line if that stuff doesn’t happen for you,” Daniel says. “There are so many shows around the world. Disney On Ice, in particular, is one of the best companies to work for. There’s no other job where you can travel to a different city each week, and experience so many different cultures, all while doing something that you grew up loving. It’s an exceptionally unique job, and I can’t imagine anything else like it.”
Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove will take audiences on a journey through 50 Disney classics. From the inaugural Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, to the studio’s 50th film, Tangled, the show will feature beloved characters like Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and Captain Hook, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Snow White and, of course, Mickey Mouse.
On Saturday June 28, skaters from the Iceworld Figure Skating Club at Acacia Ridge will get to take part in a special pre-show performance. National and skate representative skaters from Forest Lake, Riverhills, Parkinson, Sunnybank, 17 Mile Rocks and Springfield — 20 skaters in total, aged from six to 19 — will perform.
Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove runs from Saturday June 28 to Monday June 30 at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Tickets are available from $26.50; to book, head to Ticketek.