A hip contemporary dance ice skating show.
Let’s face it: ice skating hasn’t been fashionable since the Eighties when Torvill and Dean were champions. French-Canadian company Le Patin Libre seek to change that with their contemporary dance show which melts away everything you might associate with skating.
For a start, there’s not a sequinned costume in sight. Five performers wear jumpers, scarfs, hoodies, and beanies – they look as if they’ve just arrived at the rink for a one-off stumble. But these guys know how to skate (they are all ex-figure skaters). In this double-bill the first piece is ‘Influences’ which playfully explores the idea of breaking away from the pattern. There’s synchronicity in the routines, which are performed to a rhythmical beat, until one performer tests the ice, tries out something a little bit different and breaks away. The skating is startling, they swoop across the rink with ease, twisting and swirling and the scrape of their skates is mesmeric. By the end, order has been replaced with freestyling and ‘Influences’ becomes all about the joyousness of being on the ice.
Where ‘Influences’ has the audience watching from the viewing seats above and around the rink, the second piece ‘Vertical’ gets the audience even closer to the action. From a carpet actually on the ice (it gets exceptionally cold, so bring some layers), we watch as the performers zoom towards us and stop at the very last minute, spraying us with ice powder. The movement is abstract – the skaters tip-toe and jump, they dig into the ice with their skates and create strange symmetrical shapes with their bodies. There’s a thrilling sense of danger to ‘Vertical’ and though it is a little long, it’s a complete treat to see the elegance and ease of movement so close up.
This show is at the Murrayfield Ice Rink a little outside of the city centre, but it’s worth stepping outside the fringe bubble to experience a refreshingly cool blast of ice dance.