The speed of sport and the grace of dance will combine in a unique theatrical experience this weekend when the contemporary ice skating company Le Patin Libre makes its U.S. debut on the Vineyard. The Canadian-based troupe will present two performances of a show called “Vertical Influences” at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena on Saturday, April 9.
Don’t expect an Ice Capades–style revue. What Le Patin Libre has to offer is a far cry from themed, costumed skating. This group of former competitive skaters presents a crossover of figure skating and contemporary dance with a touch of the dramatic. It makes sense that the shows are co-sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena and the Yard of Chilmark.
“It’s nothing like what you think of in competitive skating or Disney ice shows,” David White, artistic director of the Yard, said. “They represent something that is unique to dance. They change the language of dance. The glide is fundamental to their vocabulary.”
According to the group’s website, “the creations of Le Patin Libre propose real works of art exploiting the amazing choreographic and theatrical potential of glide. Glide is the possibility to imprint movement on immobile bodies. It is the uniqueness of our dance. It is the magic we play with, until it becomes a vertigo, for our own enjoyment and that of our public.”
This weekend’s performances mark the third and final winter offering from the Yard. The off-season schedule has focused on national and international dance troupes whose work is both unique and accessible to a wider audience.
Earlier this week, the five members of Le Patin Libre traveled to the Vineyard by car from their home in Quebec. They are currently rehearsing at the rink, to get a feel for the ice. “Every arena presents its unique challenges,” Mr. White said.
Le Patin Libre has received rave reviews for past performances from the international press, and has earned fans among artists from other disciplines, including indie-pop singer and songwriter Feist.
Judging by online videos, the troupe’s appeal will be universal. Fans of figure skating will be entranced. Fans of sport skating will find it exhilarating. Fans of contemporary dance will find it compelling. Even fans of none of the above will likely be captivated.
Le Patin Libre, “Vertical Influences”: Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena, Saturday, April 9, 11 am and 7 pm. Tickets: $15 general; $5 children under 12. Free skate will take place between performances from 1-5 pm. For more information, visit dancetheyard.org.