Upon founding Ice Theatre of New York ® (ITNY) in 1984, Moira North became and continues to be a driving force in the development of figure skating as a performing art. In recognition, North was twice designated one of the 25 Most Influential Names in Figure Skating by International Figure Skating Magazine in 1998 and 2003. In addition to her expertise as a skater, North has a diverse background in dance, having studied Martha Graham technique, Japanese Butoh with Sankai Juku, and Haitian and African dance. North brought her passion for contemporary dance to the ice when she founded ITNY and has subsequently been a pioneer in the fields of dance and skating as well as a catalyst in the development of other artistic ice skating companies in both Canada and the United States.
North and her partner, Patrick Dean, skated Ice Theatre of New York's first work, which was a collaboration with dance choreographer Marc Bogaerts. The piece won them first place in the Free Dance portion of the 1984 Professional Championships in Jaca, Spain. In her subsequent work as Founder/Artistic Director of Ice Theatre of New York, North has overseen the creation of a repertory of over 60 works, which includes pieces by contemporary choreographers such as Laura Dean, Ann Carlson, Lar Lubovitch, Elisa Monte, Peter Martins, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Susan Marshall, and Jody Sperling. In addition, North has commissioned ice choreographers such as Gary Beacom, David Liu and Douglas Webster to work with her company. North also arranged for ITNY to reset works originally created for John Curry’s skating shows and to present skating champions such as Oksana Baiul, Sasha Cohen, Toller Cranston, Emily and Sarah Hughes, Nancy Kerrigan, JoJo Starbuck & Ken Shelley, Paul Wylie, Evgeny Plushenko, and Adam Rippon.
Under North’s supervision, major dance presenters, including Boston’s Dance Umbrella, Vermont’s Flynn Theatre, Dancing in the Streets and Creative Time, have produced Ice Theatre. North took ITNY to Europe, and also produced performances on the proscenium stage at Staller Center for the Arts, West Point's Eisenhower Hall, Zoellner Arts Center, National Sawdust, and the Museum of the City of New York. North also serves on the Board of The Equus Projects, a dance company under the artistic direction of New York-based choreographer Joanna Mendl Shaw.
In recognition of North’s outstanding accomplishments and artistic contributions, ITNY received the first-ever grants for an ice dance company from The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. As part of creating the country’s premier ice dance ensemble, North has shaped a signature outreach program for the general public with free ice concerts at Rockefeller Center and Riverbank State Park, as well as the “Young Artists Series” at Riverbank State Park, Prospect Park and City Ice Pavilion consisting of free performances and skating clinics for public school students ages K through 8.
JIRINA RIBBENS joined the Ice Theatre of New York ® as Executive Director in December 2004, after serving on the Board since the founding of the company in 1984.
Over the past 19 years Ribbens has overseen ITNY’s growth, such as the doubling of ITNY’s operations budget, the expansion of its outreach programming for public school children into three boroughs, and ITNY’s entry into new media, including a collaborations with Improv Everywhere on "The Worst Skater Ever," which received over 3,5 million views on You Tube, and with multi-disciplinary artist LaJuné McMillian on "The Unseen," which included live motion capture and video manipulation.
Prior to her work with Ice Theatre, Ribbens worked in a variety of positions in the entertainment and sports industries. During her career at Candid Productions/SFX/Clear Channel she produced and managed events for Television with two-time Olympic Figure Skating Champion Dick Button. She also worked as an Olympic sports consultant and producer for the networks at nine Olympic Games. In 2002 she received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Live Sports Special, as Associate Producer for NBC for the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.
Ms. Ribbens has always been driven by a passion for international sports with a lifelong interest in the Olympics and Figure Skating. A native of Antwerp, Belgium, she is a former, competitive artistic roller skater. While pursuing her studies, Ms. Ribbens worked a variety of events in media relations, including athlete affairs, client relations and managing press conferences. Her job at the 1979 World Championships working as an interpreter during a press conference eventually led Ms. Ribbens to work with ABC Sports at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. There she met Dick Button. About four years later – after first finishing her Masters and getting a specialized dual degree in coaching figure skating and artistic roller skating at the Trainerakademie in Cologne, Germany - she relocated to the United States to pursue a career in television production.
Jirina has an M.A. in Translation Dutch-English-Russian from the Rijks Universiteit Antwerpen in Belgium and a post-graduate degree in coaching Ice and Roller Skating from the Trainerakademie in Cologne, West Germany. She is fluent in five languages and has a working knowledge of two more.
Ms. Ribbens is married to Christopher Archer and they reside in Harlem. She is looking forward to celebrating 20 years as Executive Director of Ice Theatre of New York® in 2025 when the Company celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Director of Outreach Programming
Sarah France joined the Ice Theatre of New York in 2018, bringing her passion for ice dancing and broad knowledge of skating skills and disciplines to the company. France has translated her skills to many different areas as an ensemble performer with ITNY, in addition to being a choreographer, edge class instructor, aerialist, inline skater, dancer and off ice instructor. Her dedication to skating and desire to share her love of the ice with others has made her a sought after instructor and performer. She believes strongly in the ability of skating to transcend barriers, teach life lessons and give opportunities to all who wish to make their home on the ice.
In addition to her work with ITNY, France’s skills have been highly valued in training developmental through internationally competitive skaters, working as a coach, choreographer and program director. She is a faculty member for Shattuck-St. Mary’s International Figure Skating Center of Excellence training camps and a welcomed guest coach in skating programs around the world. France has worked with competitive athletes representing over 40 different countries and facilitated the transition to professional careers for many young skaters. She takes particular interest in developing strong foundational skating skills, mentoring coaches, as well as teaching those who wish to further refine their mastery of skating technique. Her well-rounded education on the ice has allowed her to flexibly work in all disciplines of skating, as well as successfully lead instructional programs as a skating director.
She is honored to be the Director of Outreach Programming for ITNY and looks forward to sharing the joy of dancing on ice with students around the greater NYC area through these efforts.