South London based drapes specialist Cover It Up supplied the spectacular top-of-the-show circular kabuki reveal on the recent Dancing on Ice UK tour, which was produced by Phil McIntyre Entertainment.
Cover It Up's Elliot Stennett, DOI production manager Andy Gibbs and the choreography team worked closely to find a solution for the big moment. The staging of this was conceived by Kim Gavin, and saw ice dance superstars Jane Torville & Christopher Dean emerge right in the middle of the ice and launch into their famous Bolero routine.
The kabuki measured 10 metres in diameter and was suspended directly below a truss of the same dimensions. The fabric was produced in sections, allowing it to be swiftly and easily cleared from the ice by skating stage hands.
It was stored in a bag that lived suspended in the truss for transportation, and had a double release mechanism operated by 64 electric solenoids (the 32 metre circumference had 2 solenoids every metre). The first part (involving 32 solenoids) of a two part operation dropped the drapes in from the truss to conceal Torville and Dean within it. This was followed by some neat visual trickery with shadows and projections onto the cloth before a second drop released it to the floor on cue for the magic moment.
The white trevira drape comprised 6 sections of cloth, each with a 7.5 metre drop. The biggest challenge, explained Cover It Up's Elliot Stennett was in calculating the sight lines and the height at which the kabuki needed to be flown so no-one's view was restricted around the arena. For this reason the original drop height of 6 metres was raised to 7.5 metres. He also commented that this many solenoids was a lot to be triggered in one line, and that they were very happy with the 100 per cent reliability of the system.
Cover It Up has worked with Phil McIntyre for some time, and supplied many of their shows and tours with specialist rigging, drapes and soft goods. Recent shows have included Russell Brand, French and Saunders and The Mighty Boosh.
For this one, Cover It Up's specialist rigging team attended the rehearsals in Sheffield Arena and trained up two of the touring rigging crew to look after the kabuki on the road.
For the 2009 Dancing on Ice tour, Cover It Up also supplied an 85 metre wide fully controllable LED starcloth that wrapped right around the back of the set and its two flanking IMAG screens.
Says Stennett, "It's been a great pleasure to be working with Andy and his crew again. Our next challenge is the wrestling at the O2 Arena, not quite as much finesse as the skaters, but the wrestlers might have given some of the judges a run for their money!"