“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

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Figure skating is a sport that fascinates with its beauty and captures the spirit with incredibly complex elements, ability and grace. Spectacular ice shows always make the heart sink in awe, and captivate the sight.

Russian figure skater, honored master of sports, Olympic silver medalist, producer, creator of his own ice shows Ilya Averbukh told the editorial board of “DimashNews” about the beginning of his career, staging ice shows and plans for the future.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– Ilya Izyaslavich, hello! Your ice shows are always striking in their grandeur and scale. Watching them, you immediately notice how much work, effort and love was invested in each performance. Please tell us about the beginning of your career. How did it all start?

– Hello! Thank you for your appreciation. It is very important for me to know that the viewer enjoys watching our ice shows. If we talk about my creative path, then it is probably worth saying that my life at the moment is divided into 2 stages. The first stage is my sports career. In sports, I managed to reach quite good heights, which I am incredibly proud of to this day. And yes, I deliberately say “not bad”, because the most important medal of the Olympic Games has not been won, but, nevertheless, Irina Lobacheva and I became world and European champions and silver medalists of the Olympic Games. As for me, this is a fairly good result. At the end of my sports career, the second stage came in my life, which continues to this day. Then, I had a bold idea to create my own ice show, and for 16 years now I have been working in this field. During that time, I built a very wide path on which I walked, not knowing what tomorrow holds, but I kept on walking confidently, believing in a better future. At first, I just staged ice shows, such as gala concerts. Afterwards, I received an offer to make the first television project “Stars on Ice”. It was a tremendous success. This resulted in 12 exciting seasons under the new name “Ice Age”. Also, I created a number of great performances that have received large theater awards. They are “City Lights”, “Romeo and Juliet”, and “Carmen”. We even showed the performance “Romeo and Juliet” at the Arena di Verona in Italy, which was a big stage in the formation of our company. Throughout my career as a producer, thousands of shows have been shown in various parts of the world. I work a lot as a director of big events. In particular, I was the director of one of the blocks at the Olympic Games, the opening of the Olympic Games in Sochi, and I was the producer and director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Universiade, which was held in Krasnoyarsk. The team did a really great job I am very proud of our successes.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– How did you come to creating your own shows? What was the impetus needed?

– At the end of his sports career, each athlete thinks about what he will do next. And I, of course, am no exception. I think I’ve always been attracted and fascinated by the creative process, the creation of something new. Also, I liked being a choreographer on ice, because I am not only a producer of my ice shows, but also choreographed the guys-figure skaters. This is also one of the most important components of my career. This requires great courage, invokes so many emotions, and so many unforgettable impressions. I think that due to these vivid emotions, which I constantly experience when I look at the performance of the numbers I have set, I manage to achieve such success.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– Thinking through an entire show is a very time consuming task that requires inexhaustible inspiration. Where do you get it from?

– I am always inspired to try something new, which I have never done myself before, and which have not been done before. To survive, to stay afloat, not to crash – this is my goal and my motivation. To be honest, this is an incredibly complex business. I have a fairly large company, and now we are experiencing certain problems. In particular, due to the coronavirus pandemic, which hit us hard. But I am sure that nothing will break us, and we will continue this business, no matter what.

– There are a huge number of different sports in the world, but you found yourself in figure skating. How did it attract you?

– In fact, my parents introduced me to figure skating. First of all, it was my mother’s initiative, who, no words can express how much she adored this sport. She was so carried away by it that, without hesitation, she took me to figure skating as soon as I was five years old. I didn’t immediately fall in love with figure skating, as I stereotypically considered it not a very boyish sport. However, every time, every year, my love for ice grew and bloomed, resulting in something incredible. And now I am very grateful to my mother for giving me such a fate.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– And what feelings do you experience when you go out on the ice? Have the old emotions remained, or is it perceived more calmly now?

– Now I go out on the ice exclusively as a director. And, of course, it’s very exciting to release new performances. You always worry how much the audience will like it, how everything will go, whether it will be good enough, whether it will live up to expectations. All this always and invariably evokes vivid emotions. And to be honest, I don’t miss performing as a skater. After all, there is still a lot of ice in my life without it.

– What was your most memorable performance?

– Of course, first and foremost, I will always remember the Olympics, the Olympic Games with warmth and awe. This is the most important tournament in my life. And if we talk about the performances that I created myself, the memorable ones are the performances of Carmen and Romeo and Juliet, as well as the opening ceremony of the Universiade in Krasnoyarsk. I think these are the biggest milestones in my life. But, of course, all my projects are important to me. Each of them is like my own child. And the responsibility for it is always huge.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– How difficult is it to compose your own programs, choose music, stage a dance to it? Does it take a lot of time?

– Oh, it’s always a whole special story. First, I have the very idea of the dance that I want to stage. Therefore, it is very important here to choose the right music that will fully correspond to the idea of the dance. This, of course, is not easy, but nevertheless very interesting. The production itself, in general, does not take much time. For example, performances are staged for 2-3 months, and performances are at most for several days. Your creative connection with the performer is very important here. I am the director of Yulia Lipnitskaya’s program “Schindler’s List”, which she performed at the Sochi Olympics. Also, I have been successfully working with Evgenia Medvedeva for three years. Programming in amateur sports is also very important to me. This is another direction in my activity, and it is very interesting.

– You are doing so much work! How do you manage to do everything?

– Yes, I really devote a lot of time to work, but I really like it. This is a continuous movement, this drive, these feelings and emotions, this endless cycle of events. I think the main thing here is, first of all, desire. If it is there, then you can do everything.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– Now, please tell us about your project “Ice Age. Children”. There you are not only a producer, but also a mentor for children. What is it like working with children? 

– This project is very special and important for me. This is my, so to speak, absolute know-how. And, in my opinion, there is no comparable show in the world. For the “Ice Age. Children”, I received the second TEFI statuette as a producer. This is a great success, I think. At first, many did not believe in this project, did not believe that it had a good future. However, in spite of everything, it proved itself, which I am very, very happy about. Working with children is, of course, a big responsibility. We rushed into this pool, not knowing what awaited us; we took a risk, and the risk paid off. I think that it gave a lot to all the children who went through our television project. We will hope that projects of this level will continue to appear on our television. After all, they are not only entertaining in nature, but also a social responsibility, giving children the opportunity to improve, and we should popularize figure skating.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– Tell us about your performances to the music of Dimash. Was it easy to put programs under it? Or did you have to face difficulties in the process?

– Singing Dimash, music by Igor Krutoy literally ask for the ice. Plunging into this music, you involuntarily see a future dance in front of your eyes, which will ideally suit it. I remember our cooperation with great warmth and wish Dimash to conquer the greatest heights. When we performed at Igor Krutoy’s anniversary party, everyone skated with special trepidation, with the most indescribable emotions. I, in turn, when I put numbers to these compositions, experienced a colossal surge of energy. I really hope that we will be able to deliver more than one number. Sports couple Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov continue to work and improve their number under “S.O.S”.

– What kind of music do you like to stage your performances to?

– Most of all I like drama programs filled with deep emotionality and feelings. Performing with rich, heart-stopping music always thrills me.

– At this stage of your life, what are you most proud of?

– Probably, most of all I am proud that I managed to find myself after the end of my sports career, to create a whole ice empire, which now has many followers, and to do many things for which people still say “thank you” to me. There is nothing more valuable than this.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– Do you have any dreams now?

– My biggest dream is my own stationary ice theater, where each skater would have his own home and shelter. But this, of course, is only at the level of a dream. And the second is not to stop for anything and continue to grow further. Find time for everything that is needed now. Including for my own harmony. Find it not only in work, but also in everyday life.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– How do you relax? What kind of leisure do you prefer the most?

– I really like to travel, discover new countries and cities. The world is so vast, and I would like to see everything. Now, during the pandemic, I spent a lot of time outside the city, in the country, and I fell in love with this place very much.

– When they give relief, what will you do first?

– I can’t say that I missed the hectic work very much. I think most of all I look forward to a relaxation in order to continue my travels to different parts of the Earth.

“The main thing is to withstand and stay afloat, no matter what”: Olympic Games medalist and producer Ilya Averbukh

– You gave ice shows “Carmen” and “Nutcracker” In Kazakhstan, giving an unforgettable experience to your audience. Do you plan to come to Kazakhstan with your performances?

– Yes, we would really like to, and more than once. We are always very warmly received in Kazakhstan, and we are also very impressed after the performances. I hope that when everything is fine, and the coronavirus infection pandemic finally leaves us alone, we will definitely fly to Kazakhstan again.

– Thank you very much for the interesting conversation!

 

translation by Ghada