'Love what you do, give 100%' Dancing on Ice's Melody Le Moal talks dance career and training Lemar
Dancing on Ice is heading into its third weekend and is expected to maintain its exceptional six million TV viewing figures. After a brilliant and inspiring chat with, Matej Silecky, the partner of Coronation Street actress Brooke Vincent, Mandy News enjoyed talking with fellow skater Melody Le Moal on her exciting and diverse dancing career, motorbiking, stunts, Lemmy from Motörhead and dancing on ice with skate partner Lemar.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the industry.
At first I was an ice skater, then I did Holiday on Ice, a big show around Europe. I made myself a specialty act. I’m a stunt woman, a daredevil. I do stilts on ice, fire on ice, aerial hoop and motorcycle on ice. I’m also a pole dancer and a skating coach.
How did you get into ice skating to begin with?
My dad took me ice skating one day and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I didn’t really like competition because there are too many rules. I wanted to do different stuff on ice, so that’s why I’m doing my act. I love the show aspect in ice skating and I love to create new stuff on ice.
What did you first find on ice that made you do something different and become a stunt woman?
When I started skating at eight years old, I went to see Holiday on Ice. I knew that was what I wanted to do – to be in the show. I was not a super strong skater so I knew I needed to do something different if I wanted to be the star of the show. That’s why I did the stilts. I designed my pair of stilts and built them myself, with someone who worked with metal.
I also did some circus work so I brought the fire on ice: juggling balls, fire fans, fire backpacks, fire fingers, everything on fire. It was constantly not enough so I decided to fly aerial hoop. Before Dancing on Ice, I was one of the stars in a big cabaret in France, like Moulin Rouge, but a different one. I was one of the stars of the show – I was doing aerial net and the French cancan.
Amazing! So how did Dancing on Ice come along?
I did one of the series in Holland, but I was just doing my act: the fire, the stilts, the aerial hoop. Then they contacted me, I went to audition in the UK and they picked me.
Congratulations! On a daily basis away from the show, what kind of training do you have to do to stay fit?
It’s really hard. Normally, when you’re a professional skater, you skate four or five hours a day. I skate with Lemar five hours a day. It’s a lot of training for a non-skater. Because I injured my knee before Christmas, I couldn’t skate all of Christmas, so we had to train harder and harder. We had to do more than four hours a day with Lemar because I was a bit behind. It will be revealed on the show!
What does a typical day of training on the show involve?
It’s really hard. From 8am till 8pm. It depends if it’s close to the show, but we also have to do all the camera rehearsals and everything. Then I have to skate my routine with Lemar. It’s a lot of work, because we have to do the normal dance, and because of my knee injury, I didn’t have time to build a Save Me Skate song, so we have to train so much to catch up with the others. Plus, we have all the group numbers with the pro.
I did the motorcycle last week. On the power number I’m the one who drives the motorcycle on ice. That was also extra training, because I’m doing stunts on ice. I’ve been trained by the guy who did Batman and Mission Impossible, Jean-Pierre Goy. I didn’t do a lot on TV, but I can do donuts on ice, wheelies, everything. I have a special bike made for me that drives on ice. So I have to skate with Lemar, do the group number, and all my crazy stuff.
When you’re not doing the show, or any shows at all, what kind of training do you do to stay in shape? How much of that is away from the ice?
I’m quite lazy outside actually. When I’m not training, I try to find new acts. I love to create different stuff, so I think about how to put stuff on ice. I try to find new ideas and create new acts. For example, I’m a pole dance instructor. People make fun of it in the newspapers but it’s actually a real sport. It’s really, really hard. My plan is to try to do that with ice skating – with ice skates and fire.
You mentioned you had a knee injury – how do professional skaters try to stay injury-free?
We fall over, but the day I injured my knee I stepped into a cable tie. That was a fall that I couldn’t control. When you’re a skater, you’re used to falling, and especially because I do stilts too. You learn how to fall. The danger with that is you skate with a celebrity who doesn’t know how to skate. If they trip over they can fall on you. That’s the dangerous part – they don’t know how to skate and it makes it dangerous.
Especially when you’re the woman, because when you do lifts you’re not stable on your feet. That’s the really dangerous part. But Lemar is really strong and really gentle with me so if we fall, he will go under to protect me. He’s really, really nice.
How difficult is it to teach someone who will eventually be leading that dance, as opposed to the male professionals who will lead the dances?
It’s really hard to make him lift, but Lemar is really strong and he’s not floppy so he can really lead me. Also, I try to close my eyes so that I can really trust him. That’s it. There is no other way. I don't really know how to answer that. You have to do it.
Apart from training on the ice, do you and Lemar have to follow a strict diet or do physical exercise away from the ice?
For my knee injury, I had to do a lot of re-education. I had to do cycling and everything. I’m not a routine person. I’m hyperactive so I burn a lot of calories every day without doing anything. I’m healthy but I eat what I feel like I need to eat. I don’t eat salads to stay skinny. I’m just eating what I feel like I need, because your body tells you what it needs. Or maybe I’m lucky and I don’t get fat.
Also, I had to get back in shape because I’m a mum. My baby is two and a half. I did aerial hoop and continued to skate and teach until seven months pregnant. I went back on the ice ten days after giving birth. It was okay.
When you’re performing on ice, you have professional judges and the audience as well. When you’re dancing to impress both of those different types of audiences, are the most difficult things the things that look the most difficult?
The thing is, I was in a show and that’s what I did in that competition. I’m not a technique person, I love to cover and do shows. That’s why I went into shows and quit competitions. For me, the hardest part is to get the heart of the judges, because they are not novices and they know the technique, so they are going to look at that. I’m scared of that. I’m really scared to be judged on the technique. That’s why I try to train Lemar a lot on the technique so that we have no bad comments.
It’s really hard to please a panel of judges and at the same time, the audience. The audience wants the show and the judges want the technique. So I’m really, really scared to be judged.
It all sounds like it’s going amazingly well at the moment.
I hope so. I’m really stressed. I don’t want to put Lemar down. This year we’re doing the choreography. I love to choreograph, that’s my thing. I really hope my choreography is going to please the judges because I put all my heart into it. It’s really hard to choreograph a routine every week in such a small amount of time.
I am a coach at home. I got my degree. Normally, I make the choreography for super champion skaters – you tell them what to do and they can do it. The thing is, here you have to choreograph and you have to teach them the moves too! So you’re really limited on what moves you can use, because Lemar can’t do what a pro skater can do. You really need to try to find impressive moves that are simple. You also need to be confident in it. It’s a really tricky one.
About doing your own choreography, do you think your background in doing something different to some of the other competitors gives you an opportunity?
Actually, I’m a bit crazy because sometimes I go to see productions and I say, “I want that, I’m going to put fire there, we’re going to do this and come in with a motorcycle, I’m going to do the pole dance and then the pony’s going to come on the ice” and all that, so they are a bit scared of me sometimes. This week I’m going to use a mic stand as a prop, that’s going to be nice. I love to use props.
What are your plans after Dancing On Ice?
You can put out a little announcement: I need work. I need to be hired. I moved my whole family to the UK. My husband came and my baby is here too. We took a big gamble on that. I was quite settled in the cabaret in France when they told me to come to Dancing On Ice. It was a big bet to lose everything for 5 months. I’m really quite worried about the future, but I enjoy myself here, and I hope somebody’s going to come along. Fingers crossed.
When I said to my mum I was going to do Dancing On Ice, she said “Are you crazy? You have a settled job! Don’t do that do me! Don’t take my granddaughter there!” It’s a big gamble, and I love a gamble.
The show is going down really well, the ratings are fantastic and everybody is talking about it. That’s why I hope we’re going to do well with Lemar. Not just for me, but for him too. I don’t want to let him down and I really, really hope we’re going to stay. I started late with Lemar. I was with Monty before, and Monty broke his ankle. I started with Lemar two weeks later and then I broke my knee, so we had a lot fewer hours than the others. But I love to work under pressure. When I have one month, I’m like, “Eh, let’s stay at home.” But the day before: “Ok we need to do it now. It’s tomorrow.”
What’s the public response been, so far, to you and to the show?
For the motorcycle I got really, really good reviews. But I’m not used to being famous or having tweets, so sometimes there is one bad comment and I focus on that. I need to get used to that and I need to be stronger. In everything I do, when I perform, all I want to do is give love to people, do my best and give them a good time. That’s all I want. So, we’ll see.
Are the music choices given to you or are you given a genre and area to pick your tune from?
No, they choose it for us one week before.
Do you have any advice for any up-and-coming skaters or theatre people, anyone who might look at you and wonder how you got to do what you do?
Lemmy from Motörhead, one of my friends, told me one day: “No matter what you do, if you do it with your heart and your passion, people can see it.” That’s what I do. I skate with my heart and I give 100%. You need to love what you do and give 100%. Lemmy was a really good friend of mine, and he told me: “You can play guitar normally, or you can play with your heart. You can see the difference.” It’s not a job. It’s a passion. When it’s a passion, people can see it and then you’re the best.