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Chelsea activist Marni Halasa to be honored by Ice Theatre of New York

BY SHARON WOOLUMS | Whether she dresses as a spotted leopard with a boa of “hush money,” pens op-eds about the Small Business Jobs Survival Act or organizes the annual Occupy Wall Street anniversary press conference, Marni Halasa is definitely known in local protest circles. She is also known as a former District 3 City Council candidate who ran against the establishment. But what people may not know is that she is a professional figure skater who has made an art out of theatrical figure skating.

On Mon., May 8, Ice Theatre of New York, will honor Halasa, who lives in Chelsea near Hudson Yards, with its prestigious Alumni Award. The award is given to an individual who has gone on to develop something major within the figure skating community. The company will also be honoring Olympian Jason Brown, as well as present its Choreography Award to Rohene Ward — two of the most decorated artistic figure skaters today. Both skaters will perform at ITNY’s annual gala show Monday at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers.

“Jason and Rohene have given the world the true gift of incredible skating and choreography — almost on a spiritual level — and our sport is undoubtedly better off for it,” said Halasa, a U.S. Figure Skating double gold medalist.

But Halasa has created something incredible of her own: the Sky Rink All Stars, a theatrical children’s skating troupe that has medaled eight years in a row at the U.S. Figure Skating National Showcase. The team has performed at ITNY events at Riverbank State Park, Bryant Park, South Street Seaport and Rockefeller Center. Parents, she explained, prefer showcase skating because it sets more realistic expectations for their children, whose goals are more educational than Olympic, and also helps them learn valuable life skills by joining a team. The All Stars also have taught children hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, and have donated their time to ITNY for community service.

“It’s not just learning how to skate, it’s also how to be dedicated, manage time, be responsible and how to give back,” Halasa explained. “The skaters even learn how to de-escalate tension when disagreements arise. I can’t tell you how many parents, later on, tell me how positive figure skating was for their child.”

The Sky Rink All Stars performing “Cirque du Patinage: A Skating Circus,” with a medley of Cirque du Soleil music, at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers. (Photo by Darial Sneed)

Halasa credits figure skating for her own drive, courage and confidence to succeed. The daughter of academically inclined immigrant parents — a Filipina mother and Jordanian father — Halasa graduated college from Carnegie Mellon University, attained a law degree from University of Pittsburgh and a master’s in journalism degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. For years, she worked as a legal reporter, but it was her love for figure skating that solidified a career at Sky Rink — where she was involved in ITNY repertory pieces, such as “La Révolte Des Enfants” and “Hot Chocolate.”

It was then that she formed her team, which has skated to iconic pieces from Cirque du Soleil, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the Broadway musical “Annie.” The entertaining programs with elaborate costumes got them their own segment on NY1, a gig at celebrity skater Johnny Weir’s birthday party, as well as a second-place finish at the Coney Island Mermaid parade.

“I try to teach my students that it’s not about perfection,” Halasa said. “It’s about the chemistry they build with each other, connecting with an audience and taking on a character. In my experience, if young skaters can learn how to take risks, perform on time and have success, that’s when real confidence becomes part of who they are.”

Ice Theatre of New York will present the 2023 Home Season Performances at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers on Fri., May 5, and Sat., May 6, at 7 p.m., tickets $25, followed by a benefit gala and performance at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers on Mon., May 8, at 6:30 p.m., tickets $50. For more information and tickets, click here.


  1. Allie Ryan Allie Ryan May 6, 2023

    Congratulations, Marni! I learned something new about you! (Thank you, Sharon!) Thank you for creating such an extraordinary youth program.

  2. Patricia Bronstein Patricia Bronstein May 6, 2023

    Thanks for the art/music/theater/festival listings. Much appreciated.

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