Disney On Ice skater Kristine Gardner is having the time of her life portraying one of pop culture’s biggest icons, Barbie.
“There wouldn’t be another role that would suit me better or that I would enjoy more,” says the performer, on the phone from Stockton during a recent tour stop of “Disney On Ice presents Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 3,” which comes to the Bay Area next week.
The 26-year-old Canadian skater relishes the part because it’s a big contrast to Violet of “The Incredibles,” a character she previously played for four years.
Describing the difference as “night and day,” Gardner says Violet is a shy girl who bursts into action as a superhero, while Barbie is a fun, grown-up woman who gets to have romance.
Gardner, who began skating at age 4 in her hometown of Hampton, New Brunswick, enjoys the challenge of working in pairs, something she hadn’t done growing up during 15 years of competitive skating. Her duet with Ken in “Toy Story 3,” which closely follows the scene from the movie, represents the only pairs skating in the spectacle.
The show also has a new projection technology, creating a giant canvas on ice, and adding to its fun as a participatory theatrical experience.
For Gardner, that group spirit extends to her day-to-day life on the road, living “out of two suitcases” with her fellow performers, who have become a family of sorts.
She also enjoys seeing sights in exotic places – she was particularly taken by Egypt and New Zealand – and warm weather in the middle of winter. She says, “If I were at home, I’d be freezing or shoveling snow.”
If you go
Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 3
Presented by Disney On Ice
Where: HP Pavilion, 525 West Santa Clara St., San Jose
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Feb. 23; 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.
Where: Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29 and March 1; 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 2; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. March 3-4
Tickets: $15 to $77
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com