Kia Sofia Szpak is expecting something magical when her skates hit the Talking Stick Resort Arena ice for Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream Jan. 17-20.
Szpak, who was born in Scottsdale, grew up in Holland and attended college in Montreal. Still, she considers the Valley her home.
“My family moved to Holland when I was young,” she said. “I have family in Scottsdale. I love it there. It’s the hometown I feel most connected to.
“When I’m in Phoenix it’s a magical place. The desert is home for me. It feels right. It’s my favorite place in the world. I think it’s the best state in the United States. I could go on.”
Szpak is an ensemble member in Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream, which features Disney’s Moana for the first time in a live production. Hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse take audiences on an expedition across raging seas and snow-covered mountains in this show with characters from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Tangled and Cinderella.
In her Disney on Ice debut, Moana goes on a high-seas adventure with demigod Maui to save her island and discover her true identity. The show also sees Belle befriending the enchanted castle staff and revealing the Beast’s gentleness. Anna’s devotion to her sister, Elsa, takes her on a life-changing journey to stop an eternal winter. Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, Cinderella and friends from around the Disney Kingdom overcome obstacles and make their dreams come true.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early to celebrate family and tradition with a special sing-along with Miguel from Disney-Pixar’s Coco in a live pre-show fiesta.
Szpak taps into several characters, such as Drizella, one of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters, a bathing beauty in Olaf’s summer number, and one of Moana’s villagers.
“It’s really incredible,” she said. “It’s a great job. To play different characters is always fun. It’s new and fresh and ultimately it’s your own character you get to create.”
Performing comes naturally to Szpak. She discovered ice skating when she accompanied her mother to the ice rink. At age 9 she started ice skating, emulating the actions she saw on large posters of athletes.
“I would try out different things, like balancing on one foot,” she said. “It was pretty natural the way I started. My passion just grew because I never stopped. I asked for lessons after about a year, but I was already doing these things on my own.”
Szpak started competing at 12, which is “pretty late in the figure-skating world,” she said.
It was addictive from the get-go.
“I love the motion of spinning on the ice or in the air,” Szpak said. “I love that dizziness you get. It sounds silly, but it’s one of the best feelings when you get to go really fast. It’s a beautiful feeling to be able to skate and feel the wind in your face. It’s very poetic.”
While Szpak was learning to skate, she was acting in theater. After she graduated high school, she studied theater performance at Concordia University, from which she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
“Both of them were from a young age, and passions I knew I would be doing through the rest of my life,” she said. “I’m very happy with what I’m doing. I love the numbers and the show I get to do. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but performing and figure skating will always be part of my life.”