Most of us have only ever been exposed to ice skating through the Winter Olympics, which is kind of like living in a world where the only readily-available form of dance is ballet. Unfortunately, the traditional figure-skating community, with its strict regulations on everything from posture to gender roles, can make any kind of innovation an uphill battle.
This is Contemporary Ice Skating probably isn’t for die-hard figure-skating aficionados but is a wonderfully engaging family show.
This is Contemporary Ice Skating isn’t groundbreaking, but it is entertaining. It’s essentially a ‘greatest hits’ show for the core team of five French-Canadian skaters: four men and one woman, performing under the name Le Patin Libre. There is very little in the way of traditional boy-girl ice-dancing duets here - instead the performance is broken up into short sequences that range from parodies of traditional figure skating to clownish slapstick routines, with a bit of child-friendly audience participation thrown in for good measure.
One early section involves two of the skaters whirling each other around on a length of rope, using their momentum to orbit one another and fling themselves across the rink. Another asks the audience to clap along with the syncopated noise of the performers’ skates hitting the ice. However, there are also a few sequences of more mature contemporary choreography, exploring what can be done outside of the traditional jumps and spins.
This is Contemporary Ice Skating probably isn’t for die-hard figure-skating aficionados but is a wonderfully engaging family show. The kids in the audience all sounded like they were having a whale of a time but the performance rarely went into actual children’s-entertainment territory, making it absolutely suitable for adult spectators as well. After Le Patin Libre’s main performance, everyone was invited onto the rink for a taster session including a simple dance lesson from the skaters themselves, which accounts for the show’s 95-minute runtime in the Fringe guide. A fun finale for everyone who was wowed by the performance and would like to try their hand (or foot) at ice skating themselves.