Far from the crowds of the city, French-Canadian troupe Le Patin Libre present This is Contemporary Ice Skating at the Murrayfield ice rink. In the chilly confines of the arena, hordes of kids and their parents excitedly fill the stands; most of them bringing their own skates. This is because, after the show, the Montreal-based collective open up the rink to the public so they can leisurely skate along to music, and learn some moves from the pros.
The show itself is a superb production, mixing traditional figure skating with street dance to offer an intelligent antidote to the over-the-top image of figure skating we were barraged with during this year’s Winter Olympics. There’s not a single sequin in sight – black t-shirts and jeans are as glitzy as it gets.
The tone is set in the opening section by a moody light-show in which the troupe take turns showing off their individual skills while backing each other on a keyboard. From there, they thrill the crowd with some more elaborate choreography, and an audience-interaction segment set to the tune of ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, before culminating in a glorious finale.
Perfect for families, dazzling for newcomers and with enough spine-tingling moments to wow the most hardened of skating cynics, This Is Contemporary Ice Skating is a beautifully realised experience.
Christian Butler is a writer and musician based in London.