By Anthony Stoeckert
Taylor Steele’s father once told her a story about her being in kindergarten when the kids in her class were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.
”He says my friends were all saying doctors and firefighters and nurses and things like that,” Ms. Steele says. “And I told my teacher with a straight face and complete confidence that I was going to be a professional princess.”
Who knows if any of those kids actually became a doctor or a firefighter, but Ms. Steele has fulfilled her childhood dream, and she does it while wearing skates.
Ms. Steele plays the role of Rapunzel, from the movie Tangled, in Disney on Ice’s Dare to Dream, which is coming to the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton for eight shows, Jan. 20-24.
The show tells the story of four Disney princesses.
”We start in New Orleans, with ‘The Princess and the Frog’ with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen,” Ms. Steele says. “And then we go into the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, then we go into Cinderella at the ball with Prince Charming. And then we end the show with the ‘Tangled’ segment, which is Princess Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. And then our finale is essentially the Disney princesses welcoming Rapunzel into the royal family, so we have an appearance from all of the classic Disney princesses.”
It’s a show that combines the talents of professional skaters with beloved Disney stories. And for young kids, seeing these princesses and princes is like a Beatle fan meeting Paul McCartney. And if you’re under the impression that it’s only little girls who are in awe of these characters, think again.
”Surprisingly enough, there’s an equal response from little girls and little boys,” Ms. Steele says. “When we do meet and greets… the little boys are just as excited as the little girls, which is awesome. The whole show is family based, so it’s not just about little girls seeing princesses. We have Flynn Rider and Prince Charming, and the Stabbington Brothers and we have Max Smith, the giant horse from ‘Tangled.’ So it’s a whole show for the entire family.”
Joining the world of ice shows helped Ms. Steele rediscover her love of skating after an injury ended her competitive career. Growing up in Onatrio, Canada, she started skating when she was 2, and became a senior member of Canada’s National Team in pairs competition. She also represented Canada on the international junior and senior Grand Prix circuits, and had a top four finish in junior pairs at the 2010 Grand Prix final.
Injuries led her to retire in 2013, and she thought her skating career was over.
”When I had retired from skating, I didn’t want to skate ever again, with the injury and everything else that was going on in my life,” Ms. Steele says. “It was all I that I knew and suddenly I couldn’t do it. So I was convinced I was going to be normal, and I was going to go to school and get a real job.”
But a former skating partner contacted her about working for a professional skating show in Europe, in May of 2014. She joined Disney on Ice last year, making her debut as Rapunzel in September. Performing in ice shows, she says, is perfect for her background.
”That was what I excelled at when I competed, the performing aspect,” she says. “I didn’t have the harder tricks other competitors have, but I had the heart to perform. And that was what got me to Disney, that I got to perform a character every day, and I got to perform more than I would in any other show.”
Ms. Steele may have thought her skating career was over, but now that she’s returned to it, she realizes that she belongs on the ice.
”It was almost a relief to find my footing and to find where I belong again,” she says. “I hadn’t been on the ice and fallen in love with the sport in a really long time. To be able to do that every day now, and realize that this is my true passion was an incredible feeling.”
Disney on Ice will present Dare to Dream at the Sun National Bank Center, Trenton, Jan. 20-24. Performances: Jan. 20-22, 7 p.m., Jan. 23, 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., Jan. 25, noon, 4 p.m. Tickets cost $25-$80; sunnationalbankcenter.com; 1-800-298-4200.
By Anthony Stoeckert