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PROFILE: Anthony Van Laast – Holiday on Ice Mystery artistic director

SEEING Nureyev dance at Covent Garden led to a 17-year-old Anthony Van Laast changing his career direction from becoming a doctor to a dancer.

Born in Sussex, he studied at London School of Contemporary Dance and joined the school's associate company, the London Contemporary Dance Theatre, in 1971.

In 1979, he left the company to pursue a career as a freelance choreographer and teacher and quickly established a reputation in films, television, concert stage and the theatre.

He was awarded the MBE for services to dance and choreography in 1999.

In 1995, Anthony was approached by Betty Goodhart – wife of Skee Goodhart, owner of Holiday on Ice – to work with the company.

Anthony's first production for the company was Extravaganza, which debuted in 1997 under the new ownership of Stage Entertainment.

Since then, Anthony also created the spectacular Hollywood, which toured the world from 2002 to 2005.

He is artistic director of Mystery, coming to the Brighton Centre from January 9 to February 1.

He has worked on numerous award-winning productions, including Song & Dance, Joseph, Bombay Dreams and the smash hit musical and film Mamma Mia.

On working with ice as a dance medium, Anthony said: "I find ice really exciting because, unlike a conventional stage, you have to work on three sides.

"The speed, energy and the movement of the skaters is exhilarating, too.

"You can only really appreciate it in a live performance – when you see ice skating on TV you have no idea how fast the skaters are going in real life."

Anthony is currently working on a number of projects, including Sarah Brightman's forthcoming US tour and a stage adaptation of Sister Act for Stage Entertainment in London.

For information and tickets for Mystery at the Brighton Centre, go to www.brightoncentre.co.uk

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