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Like many professional ice skaters, Edmonton native Melodee Clysdale began her career at the age of eight. Unlike most skaters, she gave it up when she was 21.
“I was an ice dancer,” she says, “and I skated with a partner, and my partner had quit a month before a competition had started, and I just decided to go to university for a while.” She was working at an Edmonton hair salon when a friend invited her to a Stars On Ice show.
“I got bitten by the bug again,” she says.
For 12 years, Clysdale, now 40, has done a variety of jobs for Feld Entertainment, a touring ice show company. Her roles have included Jane in a Disney On Ice production of Tarzan, and she’s currently the performance director for High School Musical: The Ice Tour, which was recently in Toronto.
“What I love about ice shows is the scope of what you’re looking at, like a TV across the ice,” she says. “When you’re looking down at this huge sheet of ice, and it’s filled with 34 people doing all kinds of incredible things, it really sweeps you away.”
Clysdale signed onto High School Musical because it included live singing and narration. Her job is to supervise every production and provide feedback to the cast and crew after every show.
The best part, she says, is “making things work. There are times when you get to a country and you can’t get the materials that you need and there’s certain people who couldn’t get in because of visas, and part of the set hasn’t been able to make it because it’s been held up in customs, and you’ve got an ice show that night and you’ve got to make it work!”
Another perk is travelling. “You get to do it in Thailand and China and Canada and the U.S. and South America,” she says. “I’ve seen Angel Falls and the Great Wall of China twice.”
Clysdale is often on the road, touring anywhere from 35 to 45 weeks a year. When not travelling with Feld Entertainment she lives in New Jersey and Philadelphia, where her husband, a 20-year veteran with Feld, is from.
And she still cuts hair! “It’s fun, but now of course I don’t charge,” she says. “It’s just my friends, so I have my friend from Japan whose hair I cut, I have my friend from Saskatchewan whose hair I cut, and I have my friend from Toronto whose hair I cut.”
For more information, visit www.highschoolmusicaltheicetour.com.