Back home again: ET native skates way back to Knoxville with Disney On Ice
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Adam Blake has a bully hockey player to thank for a career he has to pinch himself over.
Blake, 24, is a principal skater in Disney On Ice’s “100 Years of Magic.” He was hired by Feld Entertainment after graduating from Oak High School in 2007. But early on in his skating days, Blake played hockey. He said when he was 7, a player on the opposing team “hooked” him with his hockey stick, and Blake fell flat on his face.
“My dad told me, ‘You are not going to play hockey until you learn to skate,’” this ET native said. His dad then handed him a pair of figure skates. “I cried and cried and cried,” Blake said. “I didn’t want to be a figure skater at all.”
He admits it didn’t take long to fall in love with this other ice sport. Blake started putting a lot of time and effort into it, dreaming of one day being on Disney ice. He said he used to attend the Disney On Ice shows when he was still a young boy and wondered what he had to do to steal away with the show.
As it turns out, this determined and disciplined skater had what Disney was looking for. He sent in an audition tape and was contacted to come and do a personal audition. Then came the news he was in.
“The first show I did was ‘High School Musical the Ice Tour’,” Blake said. “I was with that show for two years and after that transferred over to Disney On Ice 100 Years of Magic. I’ve done that ever since.”
It will be a real treat to get to come home to East Tennessee. When he was contacted last Friday, Blake was in Louisville, Ky. He said being a member of this Disney team has taken him to Chile, Brazil, England, Ireland, Scotland and France along with several US cities. He still has family and friends here and said he will be catching up with some of them on this trip.
The last time Blake got to perform in front of a home audience was three years ago.
“Performing in the show in your hometown is pretty rare,” he said. “A lot of skaters never get to skate in their hometown. It’s a real blessing for me.”
Since he’s been skating since he was 3, it’s easy to understand why Blake decided to take off the skates and do other things while he was in high school. But after a two-year hiatus, he strapped them on again and had a renewed passion. “When I got back in, I just remembered how much fun I had,” he said.
In “100 Years of Magic,” Blake portrays the Green Army Sergeant and the villain in the “Mulan” segment. Making appearance alongside Blake’s character will be Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Pinocchio, Jiminy Crickett, Stitch, Nemo and the Incredibles. There’s a lot of ground to cover in 100 years.
Songs in this ice spectacular will include “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Under the Sea,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
Never too old
It is a rigorous schedule. The Disney skaters perform as many as 12 times a week. There are generally three shows on Saturdays. They usually have Wednesday through Sunday engagements in one town and pack up to do it all over again.
“I don’t think you will find a fitter group of traveling athletes,” this skater said.
Even after six years, Blake still feels the excitement each night in front of an audience. He said he has no idea what he would be doing as a career had this not worked out. “I had no backup plan,” he said. “I was focused on this.”
After all, who else can say they have Minnie, Mickey and Donald as coworkers, Blake wants to know. It is Blake’s hope that his skating might inspire other youngsters to get into the sport.
And although he might be an adult now, Blake said there is something about Disney that brings out the kid in all of us. Children and adults, he said, have their favorite characters. His happens to be the Genie from “Aladdin.”
“We can all relate to Disney,” he said. “The best thing about this is you not only get to see your favorite Disney characters but you get to see them skate.”
So feel free to come see Blake and all the others in “100 Years of Magic,” if you’re 12 or 82. There are more than 65 different characters to fall in love with.
And as Blake puts it, “We are never too old for Disney.”