By Micha Green
For three years, professional ice skater Chelsea Ridley has been dazzling audiences with performances through Feld Entertainment, and this year she is not only shining on ice as a member of the ensemble, but keeping her fellow cast mates in formation as ladies line captain for Disney On Ice “Worlds of Enchantment.”
“I’m an ensemble kid, which means you can see me anywhere. You just got to keep your eyes open, because you never know when you can see me. But I’m also the ladies line captain, so I’m the person that’s in charge of making sure the numbers get taught, and they’re nice and clean, spick and span and beautiful for every night’s performance,” Ridley told the AFRO.
The 25-year-old skater did not simply stumble into the sport and is now getting to tour with the renowned show. Ridley has been putting in work on the ice since she was 4 years old, however the sport was not always her first love or career choice.
“I would not say it was love at first sight, because I did not love it,” she said. Yet, Ridley’s Caribbean parents forced her to keep up with skating and decades years later she’s a pro.
“I think that’s a good message for the kids out there, that sometimes you just have to be resilient, because you never know what could happen. Just don’t give up too fast. By the end of the session, I really found my love for it, and here we are 21 years later and I’m still loving it everyday,” Ridley told the AFRO.
Now Ridley loves skating, finding a liberating property on the ice.
“I love that you can express yourself in anyway that you want,” she said. “I think that skating is the closest you can get to flying without actually leaving the ground. You can go and just feel so free.”
Having skated competitively for years, Ridley said she particularly finds joy in being able to perform for audiences regularly.
“I’ve always just really loved performing and I think that’s what’s gravitated me towards being part of Disney and going where I can go with that performance aspect,” Ridley said. “I just love being able to perform and put smiles on people’s faces, everyday.”
With this being her third year with Feld Entertainment, the producers of Disney On Ice, Ridley is somewhat of a vet when it comes to these shows, having even starred as Princess Tiana from the “Princess and the Frog,” with another Disney on Ice production. However she said that audiences who see this “Worlds of Enchantment” are in store for a treat.
Unfortunately for D.C. readers, the show was only in the District for a short time (Feb. 14- Feb. 18) at the Capital One Arena, however, this reporter can confirm after seeing the show on Valentine’s Day, it’s a colorful and entrancing trip for all ages if able to catch “Worlds of Enchantment” in another city.
“It’s a really fun show. I’ll just say that sometimes the shows can be a little more princess-based, but this show is really different because we have a lot of different stories that are told, which is really fun for audiences of all ages, boys, girls, kids of all ages. It’s so fun,” Ridley said.
“Worlds of Enchantment” is particularly special because it features four different Disney films told on ice.
“We have ‘Toy Story,’ we have ‘The Little Mermaid,’ we have Disney Pixar’s ‘Cars and we even have ‘Frozen,’” she said. “Fun fact: We are the only Disney show that has Disney Pixar’s ‘Cars,’ so you got to make sure you see those cars, because they are great on ice.”
Beyond the joy she brings to Disney audiences, Ridley also inspires the next generation of skaters. As one of the few people of color in Disney On Ice, and as a Black skater in a sport that is still developing in terms of diversity, Ridley takes her job as a coach seriously.
“I teach a lot of African American skaters at home, and I always try to let them know and teach them that, ‘You need to be yourself, and just really do you and don’t let anyone ever tell you no, because you know yourself the best and what you’re capable of, and you need to go out and do what you want to do because it makes you happy.’ And I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned throughout my career,” Ridley told the AFRO.
The 25-year-old also has one last piece of advice for those that want to follow in her footsteps: “Push the envelope always.”
This article originally appeared in The Afro.