FARGO - When Emma Astrup was growing up in north Fargo, she might have dreamed of living 'under the sea.'
"I just loved Disney," she says. "I watched 'The Little Mermaid' everyday when I was little."
But rather than be a part of Ariel's undersea world, 18-year-old Astrup has undertaken an above-ground adventure as a cast member of "Disney on Ice presents: Frozen."
The touring figure skating show will be presented seven times between March 15 - 18 at the Fargodome. It's the first time the 2017 Fargo North graduate has been home since joining the show in September of last year.
"Oh man! It'll be so fun to come home!" she says. "It will be weird seeing people I know in the stands instead of just faces."
Astrup says she always dreamed of being on "Disney on Ice" after hearing about it from her coach Shelly Schreiner and watching a couple of fellow members of the Red River Valley Figure Skating Club join the show years ago. She says she sent in an audition video last winter and was then asked back for an in-person interview when "Disney on Ice" was in Fargo last March. She was one of only five teenaged skaters cast in the show with the majority in their 20s and 30s. But she says all of them have become like family.
"Being from the Midwest, it's nice getting to know different people," she says. "We have a lot of people from Canada, some from Russia and Hungary, so it's been cool to learn about their culture in everyday life."
And she says that everyday life can be "a little crazy." They travel either by bus or plane to cities all over the United States and Canada - skating at least five days a week sometimes with multiple shows a day. They do their laundry at the hotel or venue and make Target runs when they can. She says she didn't expect it to be so hectic, but living out of a suitcase has become her new norm.
"I think my favorite part is seeing a new city every week - always seeing something new, always learning. It really helps you grow as a person," Astrup says.
As for the show itself, Astrup says "you can really connect to it." It's the story of Frozen with beloved characters, including Minnie and Mickey Mouse, skating at the start and finish. As a member of the ensemble, Astrup can be seen in the opening, first act and finale. Watch for her in the Elsa coronation scene wearing a green dress with a bow on the back.
Astrup says she expects to be with "Disney on Ice" next year as well, but isn't sure what will come after that. She's currently taking an online psychology class through the University of North Dakota - "I like to be busy and keep my brain going," she says - and one day hopes to go to school full time for a possible career in medicine or an occupation where she can help people.
For now, she's savoring her moments on ice, living her dream and possibly inspiring the next generation of skaters watching from the stands. What's more? She has this advice for anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps.
"Work your hardest all the time and make every practice count," she says. "Know that it's okay not to follow the crowd all the time - to own what you're doing and be confident."
Spoken like a true Disney princess.
If You Go
What: "Disney on Ice presents: Frozen"
Where: Fargodome, 1800 N. University Dr., Fargo
When: March 15-18 (seven shows at varying times)
Info: Tickets vary in price from $15 to $75 and can be purchased at disneyonice.com.