TORONTO (AP) For Elvis Stojko, it's the perfect marriage of two of his passions - the stage and the ice.
''Performing is performing,'' Stojko said. ''Whatever skill it is, there is still a certain aspect of being able to connect with the live audience.''
The three-time world figure skating champion will team with former ice dancer Shae-Lynn Bourne and other skating stars for ''Blades on Stage,'' a skating show with the intimacy of a stage production that opens Christmas Eve at the Princess of Wales Theatre.
Stojko is no stranger to the stage. He played slick defense lawyer Billy Flynn in the hit musical ''Chicago'' earlier this year.
''It's neat because doing `Chicago,' and feeling the stage, I saw the similarities between performing on the ice and that,'' Stojko said. ''At first I felt like a fish out of water, performing without my skates and using my voice and that type of thing. Now with this, being on stage with skates, it's really cool to be up close and personal with the people.''
The show is being held on a surface measuring 40 by 56 feet. Figure skaters are accustomed to NHL rinks that measure 85 by 200 feet.
So the 42-year-old Stojko and the rest of the cast -including Bourne, Violetta Afanasieva and Pete Dack, among others - have been laying down pylons to practice, marking out the smaller surface they have to work with.
''It's intimate, (audience members) are close,'' Bourne said. ''We're so used to having to present to all four sides. But now, you just have the audience, and that's very new when you're designing your program to fit the stage.''
Stojko and Bourne, who won gold with partner Victor Kraatz at the 2003 world championships with a memorable ''Riverdance'' program, said it wasn't difficult to train for the show. Both still skate on the professional circuit.
''We never stopped training so it just bleeds into the next show,'' Stojko said. ''The two numbers I'm using here are numbers that I've had before, one I just did in Brazil. The other one is a Christmas number I did a few years ago. We're skating almost all year round. ... We're always trying to stay in shape, and when we get here, we have a couple of days to put together the group numbers, strategically laid out.''
Bourne is a skating coach and choreographer. Her clients include ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who recently won the Grand Prix Final. She's choreographed dozens of programs for skaters from around the world this season.
''With choreography, you're on the ice with the skater,'' she said. ''It helps them to see, and I think you exaggerate as a choreographer or as a coach, to really make somebody understand.''