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Le Patin Libre

February 28, 2015

Vertical Influences

Reviewed February 27, 2015

Minto Skating Centre, Ottawa

(Repeat performances February 28, 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.)

Photograph by Alice Clarke

Photograph by Alice Clarke

Is it skating or is it dancing? There’s no heart-stopping spins or competitive figure skating jumps (well, there are a couple of fine championship moments). But the performers are wearing blades and they’re dancing on the ice. There are no flirty skate skirts or jumpsuits either. The five skating dancers are dressed in fairly casual attire – street clothes really – and they bring a smart, nonchalant attitude to the rink.

Just a group of rebel “free skaters” expressing a contemporary flair for art on ice.

Founded by international figure skater Alexandre Hamel, Le Patin Libre features Hamel and four other former Canadian figure skaters (three men and a woman) from Montreal delving experimentally into a choreographic expression of contemporary dance on skates.

There’s a pleasant percussive beat with a touch of tribal permeating the two half-hour works of Vertical Influences. Rhythmic glides with a fanciful focus on the sound of the blades on the ice. Smooth starts, sudden stops and that shushing sound of softly scraped ice along the blade edge.

There’s a natural synchronicity and lovely lyricism among the five dancers as they swoop at superfast speed across the rink, their limbs beautifully aligned or angled into gloriously odd shapes. There’s a mesmerizing flow and a spellbinding spin and an interaction among them that tells an imagined story of relationship.

One breaks away from the group – dares to be different – and the others observe, and follow, challenging the pervasive rhythm.

There’s a cool vibe among the small group, a touch of competitiveness, a hint of humor, a bit of bravado, even a sense of spirituality as they sail smoothly on the glassy surface under soft low lighting that adds a slice of beauty and a light peaceful mood.

Influences introduces us to the skating artists and the unique style of art they bring to the ice. For the second piece, Vertical, the audience moves to seats at ice level, sitting directly in front of the skaters as they express new ways of gliding, hopping staccato-like across the ice surface or racing dangerously close to the spectators.

Le Patin Libre entertains with a new style of performance art that shouldn’t be missed. Don’t forget to dress warmly!

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From → Spectacle

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