The Graf Rink in Newburyport will be hosting the Merrimack Valley Skating Club’s annual skating show on April 11th (Sunday) starting at 4PM.
“It is an affordable activity ($5 for adults – $3 for children and seniors) that the whole family can come to and enjoy,” explained show director Nikki Roberts.
The performers in the show range in ages from three to eighteen and their abilities vary significantly. “Some are just starting out while our show soloists are skating year round,” said Nikki. “The soloists are getting private lessons during the year and many of them travel to take part in monthly competitions representing the Merrimack Valley Skating Club.”
The theme of this years show is “Fairy Tales, Fables, and Fantasies.”
Nikki has been program director at Graf Rink since 2003 and has a history with the Graf Rink before that. “I started skating here in the 1980’s as a kid and then went on to coach part-time,” she recalled. “A full-time job here was offered and I am glad I accepted the offer. I love what I do.”
Any show with performers of various ages and ability levels makes for a nerve-wracking afternoon for the director watching from the wings. However, there is a sense of certainty as to what will be the hit of the show. “The tiny tots (age 3-6) will get the biggest crowd reaction,” said Nikki. “They are all in one group number and are just so cute. Every year the crowd loves them.”
Beyond their three minutes of being in the spotlight in costume, all ten groups and nine soloists will return to the ice for the grand finale at the show’s end to salute the crowd.
The Merrimac Valley Skating Club is headquartered at the Graf Rink. It was formerly known as the Newburyport Figure Skating Club but with numerous members coming from away from Newburyport, the name of the club was changed. Some of the skaters are from New Hampshire.
The economy has hurt the club’s numbers. “With sixty kids, it has been one of our quieter years,” the Newburyport resident said. “We have had over 100 kids in the show in the past but tighter budgets for families have impacted us this year.”
“My goal is to have the skaters in the show feel good about themselves,” she said. “They’re cold and nervous and it is difficult going out there in front of a crowd. They even may fall but that’s okay, as far as I’m concerned, as long as they leave here happy, smiling, and proud of what they’ve done.”
For families considering enrolling their children in the MVSC, the show is a great opportunity to see the skills that their children/grandchildren will be learning.
For those who enjoyed the Vancouver Winter Olympics, it is a chance to see how trained skaters at the local level are coming along. “We have a large community of talented skaters in this area that go virtually unrecognized,” said Nikki.
Those interested in more information about the show or in becoming part of the Merrimack Valley Skating Club can contact Nikki at the Graf Rink at (978-462-8112).
(This story appeared in The Town Common on April 6, 2010.)