This is Contemporary Ice Skating
This is Contemporary Ice Skating

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (dance, physical theatre and circus): This is Contemporary Ice Skating at Murrayfield Ice Rink (venue 415). Reviewed by Kelly Apter

This is Contemporary Ice Skating
[The performers combine elements of ice dance and ice hockey in six story–telling routines]

We’re so used to having our ice dance served on a bed of sequins, American tan tights and fixed grins, that when Le Patin Libre glide on to the ice dressed entirely in black, it looks as if the tech team has just arrived.

But no, the five skaters exuding a relaxed familiarity are indeed our entertainers – and they’ve got something quite different in mind for us.

Le Patin Libre started life in 2005, on the frozen ponds of Montreal, Canada. Their aim was to find an alternative use for the ice; something that lay inbetween the high gloss of ice dance and the macho world of ice hockey. The result is an accessible mix of crowd-pleasing moves, intelligent staging and enjoyable music.

If there’s a complaint to be made, it’s the show’s brevity (and it’s not often you can say that at the Fringe). Largely a programme of extracts from longer pieces, there is little chance for the works to develop fully – and after each of the six routines I was left longing for more.

All five of the skaters have a solid command of their sport/artform, and at no point do we fear for their ability to complete a tricky manoeuvre with a strong finish (when they do fall, it’s intentional).

Short narratives, some more abstract than others, play out (a clown breaks free from a dogmatic ringmaster, three patients in a psychiatric hospital find freedom on the ice, to name but two), each one a combination of grace, technical skill and out-of-the-box thinking.

Then, after 40 minutes, it’s time for those so inclined to get their skates on and join the company on the ice, suitably inspired to mix ice skating and dance in a whole new way.

Until 23 August. 20 August 10:15pm, more info

Originally published in The Scotsman

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