Teen skates in Disney show
Heidi Herness is told that when she first put on skates and got out on the ice, she hated it.
That was at age 7. Today, at age 18, she's skating around the country as a cast member of Disney on Ice's "Mickey & Minnie's Magical Journey."
"It's so exciting, and so much is happening that I don't have time to get homesick," Herness said on the phone from Rio Rancho, N. M., where the Disney on Ice troupe was scheduled to perform last week.
So far, Herness, who is from Byron and skated with the Rochester Figure Skating Club, has performed in Florida and California. Coming up are performances Dec. 9-12 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Herness auditioned for Disney on Ice last December. Then she had a long wait before getting a spot and being signed to a contract.
"I got my letter in August," she said. "I was going to go to college, so I had a different plan ready."
Instead, she reported to Fort Myers, Fla., on Aug. 22 for training with Disney on Ice. "We were on the ice for eight hours a day for two weeks," she said. "It was difficult because there was so much to learn in a short time."
Once the tour started, there were more adjustments to make: Living in motel rooms, traveling every week, trying to stay healthy. "It's a challenge to eat well on the road," Herness said. "But everybody around me is in the same situation. We find a grocery store, and we usually have refrigerators in our rooms."
In the show, Herness is an ensemble skater in the first act, and is Tinker Bell in the second act. There are 46 skaters in the production.
"It's definitely a different style of skating," she said. "It's more performing than competitive. It's really fun."
Asked about the best part of each performance, she said, "The energy inside the building when the kids see the characters. They get so excited."
So far, audiences have also included her mom, Kate, who visited when Disney on Ice was in southern California, as well as school friends and various family members.
Still, Heidi admitted she's anxious to make a short visit home during an upcoming tour break in Iowa. "I miss my dogs," she said.