When he was 10 years old, Joshua Flores laced up a pair of ice skates for the first time and knew skating was something he wanted to do for a long time.
“I always loved the music that came with figure skating as well as the movement and gracefulness,” he says. “I loved to jump and spin. I remember being little and pretending to skate with my socks on, on the living room floor when I first saw figure skating on TV.”
Almost two decades later, the out and proud young man continues to live his dream as part of the Disney on Ice tour.
“I competed in figure skating until I was 18 and then when it was over, I wanted to find something that would still let me do what I loved,” he says. “My coach suggested I send in a videotape to Disney on Ice and see what happens, and I filmed me doing all my tricks and a week later they called me.”
That was 10 years ago, and Flores has traveled the globe as he skates in productions all over the world. It’s more than the Rockford, Ill., resident ever imagined.
“I’ve been to Japan, Australia, Europe, South America … it’s hard to keep track of all the places I have been,” he says. “The traveling is awesome because I get to experience cultures around the world, and I’m a huge food person. I love tasting food from everywhere.”
Currently, Flores skates as “The Jungle Book’s” Mowgli in a Disney on Ice production entitled, “Let’s Celebrate!” but he’s also seen time playing John Darling from “Peter Pan,” a turtle in “Finding Nemo” and a student in “High School Musical.”
“At first, it was difficult to get used to skating with a mask or in costume, but you get used to it and learn more about your skills,” he says. “I love the rush of adrenaline when I skate out and see a huge audience screaming with smiles and laughter. I always like performing to a crowd.”
The best thing that’s come from being with Disney on Ice, he says, it that he met his boyfriend (Nicholas Kelly, also a skater in the show) five years ago and they’ve been able to travel the world together.
“We work together and are around each other 24/7 because of our jobs, and we learn so much about each other, nothing can really break us apart,” Flores says. “Touring the world together is amazing and I am very lucky, definitely.”
Being gay has never been a problem for Flores in his dealings with Disney or the other skaters. There are a number of ice skaters working for the company who are part of the LGBT community.
“We have a huge, diverse group with people from around the world so everyone gets used to each other, and I’ve never experienced any problems on tour,” he says. “We’re one big happy family.”
Flores calls Lady Gaga one of his role models because she is a constant reminder to him that you can be completely different in so many ways. “You should love yourself for who you are and enjoy and love life,” he says.
“Let’s Celebrate,” which plays the Patriot Center from Oct. 23-27 and the Baltimore Arena from Oct. 30-Nov. 3, features 50 Disney characters paying tribute to different holidays around the world.
“It’s kind of like walking into Disneyland and seeing all the characters on the ice right at the opening of the show,” Flores says. “We have a Tea Party with the Mad Hatter, Mickey and Minnie are there of course, and we all help to clean up the party with Fantasia Mickey. It’s so much fun.”
Flores is on the road 10-11 months each year, and while he misses his family, they understand that he’s doing something he loves.
When he finally does hang up the skates, Flores hopes to stay with the company and explore the wardrobe- and character development-side of productions.
“There are people who have been here almost 20 years, and I’m going to stick with it until my body gives out — to the very last piece of the music,” he says.