WHERE ARE THEY NOW: ILYA AVERBUCH
Interview with Ilja Averbuch (IA) by Maxim Falileev (MF) printed in a Russian language Internet publication www.press-attache.ru on June 19, 2007.
Ilja Averbuch is a very smart and busy person. Also he is a perfectionist. Hearing his name one almost immediately imagines ice, spectators and ovations. His show “Ice Symphony” where many stars on ice had participated, was seen in more than 60 Russian cities, and his television show “Stars on Ice” became a major hit last year.
MF – Did your mother bring you to figure skating under the influence of the performances by Irina Rodnina?
IA – Not quite. At that time it was not only Irina Ridnina that was popular, but it was all of figure skating. Our generation was brought up on the wave of successes by Belousova and Protopopov, Pachomova and Gorshkov, Rodnina and Zaitsev. And I hope that the children who their mothers are bringing to the skating rinks these days, would say that they were influenced by our performances.
MF – Who are your parents? Are they sports people?
IA – No, they are not. My mother worked as a music teacher in kindergarten, she also provided accompaniment on the piano, although by training she was a microbiologist. She went to work in the kindergarten as to be near me. My father is an engineer/mathematician. Only now, becoming a parent myself, I can understand the parental exploits that were performed by our mothers and fathers.
MF – If I am not mistaken, you met your future partner and wife Irina at that rink when you were 6 years old.
IA – Yes, it is true. Initially, until we were 10 years old, we skated singles separately. Later our sports roads went separate ways – I went into ice dancing and Irina continued skating solo. We met again when I was 18, when I came to the group of Natalia Linichuk with my then partner Marina Anisina. Together with Marina we won twice the World Junior Championships, while Irina had troubles with her partner. She even considered dropping out of sport. We did not even think at that time about the possibility of skating together. Our work together came later.
MF – The first channel TV is offering you to do a sequel of the “Stars on Ice” show. You said that “unfortunately” you would do a second season of it. What did you mean “unfortunately”?
IA – “Stars on Ice” is for me like a first love, which I do not really want to repeat. We are all vain and we all want to be a bright spot in history. I consider this project not only as a means of bringing up my rating, but as my baby. It should be one and only one. I do not like watching sequels to movies with a number in the title. Although it happens sometimes that the third or fourth parts may be better than the original. Sometimes I calm myself down with this thought. I feel much stronger not about the fact that it will be “Stars on Ice –2," but about the exploitation of the theme of a celebrity in something. I am sure that we will find new angles and new stories to develop a fresh show and to have our project stand out.
MF – Some time ago you told me that your biggest nightmare was a possibility that the ice would thaw, the show would have to be canceled and you would have to explain to the spectators what happened. Do you really worry about your project in your sleep?
IA – This work takes all of my time and all my strength, but I do not complain. I am happy that I have this work, that I have whom to call, where to go and what to do with myself. It is much better than to wake up in the morning with a question of “what to do with myself today?” “Stars on Ice” is my life now. I am always in motion and my inner anxiety is always with me. I get more joy from waiting for something to happen – for a new show or for a vacation. As the saying goes, for me the happiness is not in the fact itself, but it is anticipation.
MF – When you were planning to end your sports career, did you know what would you be doing?
IA – I had some intentions, but I did not think that in just three and a half years I would be so successful in what I was planning to do. When Irina and I went back to Russia after living in the US for 10 years, we did not quite know where we were going. We visited Russia once in a while for a few months for a vacation. But vacations are different from work. And the fact that we could establish ourselves in Moscow meant a great deal to us. Irina opened her figure skating schools in Moscow and other cities in Russia and Belarus. Altogether they have about 500 students. I am sure that her work will bring great results, because I see how involved she is in her coaching.
MF – In a TV serial “The Cruel Time” you played a reporter. He was killed in the fifth part, while in the screenplay it should have happened in the tenth part. Someone said that the director could not stand your acting any more. Was it true and what really happened?
IA – It was a joke. The production just had no money to pay me. But the main outcome of this was that I decided that I would never become a real actor. I mean a true character actor in the theater. Anyone who could speak could take part in a serial. Each one of us has their own charisma and each is interesting in their own way. Theater is a lot of work and really talented people should work there. I decided that I will never work in the theater or in the movies – it is not my calling.
MF – Did your acting experience help you in dealing with stars of your show and with the press?
IA – Of course. That was the time when I was searching for my way in life. Switching from figure skating to acting opened and widened my understanding of life. It was nice to develop self-assurance, but real assurance was always coming to me when I was skating on the ice, and everything else was quite slippery.
MF – Was it difficult to meet the schedule of the show? You must have been on your feet for long hours.
IA – This project took over all of me and I never watched the clock or observed hours. When there is a lot of creativity, one does not feel tired. It is a wonderful feeling when you have an inspiration and you do what you love. From outside it all seems so complex, and it is complex, but it all depends on what you are capable of doing. I was enjoying what I was doing and everything went my way. For example, I could drive for 15 hours, but some people can not drive even for 3 hours.
MF – Was it tiresome to work with the stars?
IA – Not at all. I do not want to single out anyone – it will be not pedagogical. I am happy that I was able to create a creative environment at the project and was able to match the partners really well.
MF – Did you just create the numbers or the costumes as well?
IA – Both. I was always deeply involved in all aspects of figure skating. That was one of the reasons Irina and I decided to finish our sports career so early. We wanted to widen the areas of our participation. Some people asked us why did we not use our creativity when we were dancing in the Olympics. One should understand that then we had different goals. In the competitions the main thing is to perform complex technical elements at the maximum speed and with a high precision. I always wanted to expand the borders, to do something different, but in sports it is almost impossible. These days the young sports people are asking me to help them to design and produce a new program. I think that soon I will start doing it seriously.
MF – While you are occupied by the "Ice Symphony" and Irina is actively coaching in her skating school, who is taking care of your son, Martin?
IA – Of course I would like to give more attention to our son. He is growing up as a very communicable, open and positive lad, and he travels a lot with us. He traveled with us to Turin where we were carrying the Olympic flame, he was with me in Nizny Novgorod recently. No one can say that he is homeless, and besides, he likes the life that we give him and he does not feel any lack of attention from us.
MF – Did you try to put him on skates?
IA – We did, but he did not like it. May be we will try again when he is four.
MF – Are you planning a second child?
IA – We are all in God’s hands and it is impossible to plan everything in life. We will rely on higher forces.
MF – Have you started building your own house?
IA – At the moment we are in the process of moving from one apartment to another. We do want to build a house near Moscow very much.
MF – What do you consider your main achievement?
IA – It is the fact that in 3 years after I completed my sports career, I was able to find myself. I can not complain about my fate, it was nice to me. And a chance to participate in “Stars on Ice” was like winning a lottery ticket.
MF – Usually when people answer this question they refer to their children…
IA – Yes, I know, but I will talk about that when Martin will be 18 and will grow to be a nice, normal person. It is more important for the parents to bring up a child, then to just give a birth to a child.