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ICE DREAMS Meet the youngest skater in 'Disney on Ice'

Who ever said being short limits how high a person can reach?

In the case of 18-year-old Carlotta Edwards, standing at 4-foot-10 3/8 -inches has been nothing but a blessing. Her petite size sure hasn't held her back from reaching and grasping her dreams, as she now makes a living traveling as the youngest performer in Disney on Ice.

Carlotta starting skating at age 10, when she moved from a small, isolated area known as Queen Charlotte Island, British Columbia, Canada, to Prince Rupert. She explains that her life "blossomed" when she first started skating; "It was like BAM! Go!," she explained in a recent phone interview.

By the age of 13, Carlotta left home to live with her coach. Unlike many figure skaters who move away in order to train, Carlotta always wanted the balance of a "high school life," and therefore, continued attending school while practicing her skating for hours every day. Carlotta says she always loved the rush she got from competitive skating, and often misses it. However, the performance aspect of her skating is what has given her the chance to be a part of Disney on Ice.

In 11th grade, Carlotta learned of the Disney on Ice tour, and her coach urged her to send in a videotape and resume. Carlotta says she was always sure of one thing: she wanted to continue skating beyond high school, and she was going to do whatever she could to reach that goal. "I applied to Disney in May of my senior year, and I got the job right away," she says.

What could be better than traveling to a new city every week, performing and making kids smile? Carlotta's opinion: nothing.

Many 18-year-olds are not mature enough or ready to travel and be completely on their own, but Carlotta never saw her opportunity to perform in Disney as a scary one. "I matured fast because I moved to live with my coach at the age of 13, so I got used to being on my own," she says. Carlotta also finds comfort in her cast-mates, as she explains: "Everyone has a love for skating in common, but a different story to tell."

Carlotta is skating in Disney on Ice's "Minnie and Mickey's Magical Journey," which has been performed for 11 years, making it the longest-running Disney on Ice show. She describes the production as "upbeat and exciting with many variations," but the thing she raves about most is the pleasure she gets in making thousands of children smile on a daily basis. "I always love the kids ... When you're skating and acting, there is no greater feeling than putting a smile on kids' faces," she says.

Carlotta said she is barred by contract from revealing what role she skates in the show, but sayd she performs as a "semi-main" character, as well as part of the ensemble and hopes to skate a principal position someday.
Places she has traveled with the show include Miami, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Toronto and her favorite place, San Francisco. "It's great because you get a couple of days off to do whatever you want, and I love exploring new places," she said.

"Mickey and Minnie's Magical Journey," featuring skaters 18 to 39 and combining the worlds of Disney films "Lilo & Stitch," "The Little Mermaid," "101 Dalmatians" and "Peter Pan," will visit Buffalo today through Sunday for eight performances at HSBC Arena.

Lauren Cohen is a senior at Williamsville North.

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