Vertical Influences Redefines Ice Skating in Cutting Edge Performance

Figure skating meets contemporary dance in a work of art that is the antithesis of the Ice Capades.

In hindsight, Commercial Drive’s modest Britannia Ice Rink is the perfect place for a performance initially created as “a protest against sequins, stereotypes and commercial pastiches” of the ice skating genre. Performed by Le Patin Libre—a five-person contemporary ice skating company from Montreal comprised of former figure skaters and a DJ—Vertical Influences is a beautiful mash-up of sophisticated figure skating with contemporary street dance.Le Patin Libre’s innovative and experimental approach to ice-skating was immediately evident in the first act. The audience sat in the stands, watching as the company skated like they shared a hive mind through a building fog. Unbelievably coordinated as they flew across the ice at hypnotizing speeds, performers Jasmin Boivin, Taylor Dilley and Alexandre Hamel took turns clawing through the control of the uniform group during their solos. The accompaniment, composed by the collective’s own Boivin, featured hard hitting electronic beats that beautifully represented the struggle of individuality against a collective.While the first half of the performance reflected stunning technique and years of teamwork, it was in the second act, when audience members were invited down onto the ice, that the true performance began. It wasn’t until I was sitting on the chairs and pillows, with nothing but a felt cloth between me and the ice, that the personality of Vertical Influences came through. Up close on the ice, I could feel the wind whip off each of the performers as they whizzed by and the cool spray of shaved ice and I could hear the performers’ ragged breathing and picking skates. Pascale Jodoin’s solo featured seemingly unending arabesques and spins that spoke to her classical training, which was much more impressive from a mere five feet away. Hamel’s second solo was gravity defying and engaging without the interruption of a Plexiglas barrier. Most memorable was Samory Ba’s ability to effortlessly integrate step and street dancing into his performance, when he played upon the audiences’ anticipation by quickly transitioning from slow, gliding movements, to fast footwork.While the price tag is a bit steep ($46 for adults, $20 for kids) the performance is enjoyable for all ages, the second act alone is worth the experience.Left to right: Taylor Dilley, Pascale Jodoin, Alexandre Hamel, Samory Ba (Photo: Alicia Clarke.)

Vertical Influences

Apr 19 – 22, 25, 27 – 29: 7PMApr 22 – 23, 26, 29 – 30: 2PM75 minutes, Tickets $