A pair of pandoras

David Archuleta performs in a holiday show coming to Grand Canyon University Arena

When my daughter Lizabeth studied ballet as a child, I spent far too much time worrying that something outside the dance studio might cause some sort of injury.

High heels and ice skating were taboo in the months preceding “The Nutcracker” (she danced several children’s roles in the Ballet Arizona production). Too much potential for spraining an ankle, I thought.

Though Lizabeth rarely took to the rink, a schoolmate named Maddie invited her every year, for several years, to see ice skaters perform in elaborate arena shows. Lizabeth loved watching the ice skaters, having a holiday tradition to look forward to and spending time with Maddie.

I thought of Lizabeth and Maddie when I learned that the “Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice” show, part of the “Pandora NBC Skating Series,” is coming to the new Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix on Sat, Nov 12. It’ll be taped for national broadcast by NBC on Sun, Nov 27 at 4pm EST.

Kristi Yamaguchi inspires ice skating dreams

The event features Olympic champion Brian Boitano skating to a live holiday music performance split between American Idol alum David Archuleta and Mannheim Steamroller, a group well loved by Lizabeth’s grandparents. Olympic ice skaters Ekaterina Gordeeva, Kimmie Meisner and Michael Weiss are also skating in the show. It’s being hosted by Kristi Yamaguchi, inspiration for many a little girl’s ice skating dreams.

Recently I spoke with Archuleta, who shared that his mother “drug him out on the dance floor” just a few days before. Archuleta grew up in a house full of music and dance — with mom dancing salsa and dad playing jazz.

He’s known to many for achieving top two status on “American Idol” during the show’s seventh season, where he broke young hearts and captured several older ones by singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

So how did Archuleta’s own musical journey begin? “It was musicals that got me into music,” he recalls. Archuleta recalls singing along at home with a recording of the 10th anniversary performance of “Les Miserables.” After his mom printed out some sheet music from the show, says Archuleta, he learned his very first song. It was “Castle on a Cloud.”

Archuleta will be performing holiday music during the “Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice” show. He recalls his own early attempts at ice skating at an outdoor rink in Utah, where he grew up. It’s tough to find those outdoor rinks in Florida, where Archuleta was born.

“The first time I was afraid I might fall and slip,” recalls Archuleta. But on a recent ice skating adventure just a few months ago in California, he managed to stay on his feet the whole time — probably because he spent a fair amount of time roller blading in his teens.

Archuleta says he’s excited about performing with so many national and Olympic skating champions because his family always watched the Olympics on television when he was growing up. Ice skating was one of their favorite Olympic events to enjoy together. “The Olympics,” reflects Archuleta, “brings everyone together.”

I don’t expect much ice skating from the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which presents its second annual “Pandora Showcase” at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Nov 11, 12, 18 and 19. Their thing is presenting original works by women playwrights. It’s a whole other type of balancing act.

The “Pandora Showcase” features fully-staged favorites from previous “Pandora Festival” offerings. Fans of new theater works will also want to mark their calendars for the 2012 festival, taking place May 18-21 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

My daughter, by the way, no longer takes classical ballet classes five or more days a week. She’s off in New York City, doing her B.F.A. in acting — where ankles still matter, but not so much that she can’t enjoy a bit of rink time down at Rockefeller Plaza.

— Lynn

Note: Visit the GCU Arena at www.gcuarena.com and the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company at www.azwtc.org. Visit www.davidarchuleta.com for details on Archuleta’s “Pandora” performance and his “Constitution Week” concert in Gilbert this weekend.

Coming up: The fine art of bugs?, A trio of tenors, Honk if you love Hans!

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