EDINBURGH’S ice rink is to be pressed into action as a major Fringe venue for the first time – for what promises to be one of the festival’s most spectacular shows.
The capital’s long-running ice hockey arena will be transformed for a month to allow French-Canadian performers to stage a show billed as a mix between a contemporary dance show and a party on ice.
The groundbreaking troupe Le Patin Libre – who have performed around the world since forming on Montreal’s frozen ponds in 2005 – will be the first ever Fringe act to appear at the venue, which dates back to 1952.
Their publicity material describes the ice rink, next to Murrayfield rugby stadium, as “weird”, but they are also pledging to turn it into “the party venue of the festival”.
Their 105-minute show is said to be a world away from traditional figure dancing displays and TV shows like Dancing on Ice, with the routines inspired by contemporary dance, theatre, circus and even tap dancing.
The five-strong group will end each performance by urging members of the audience to take to the ice themselves for a finale set to a soundtrack created by a DJ they are bringing to Edinburgh, with skates available for hire. Several late-night performances will run after midnight.
Le Patin Libre, who are billed as the world’s first contemporary ice dance company, will be following in the footsteps of Torvill and Dean, who appeared at Murrayfield in the wake of their Olympic gold-winning success in 1984.
The ice rink, which was built in 1939, but was ruled out of use by the Second World War until 1952, has never been used for a major Fringe show, although the arena was deployed by the Edinburgh International Festival for a Russian theatre production of the Greek opera Oresteia in 1994.
Le Patin Libre are being brought to the ice rink, which has a capacity of around 3,500, as part of Aurora Nova’s Fringe programme. Alexandre Hamel, one of the show’s five performers, said: “The show will be more dynamic, clever, sophisticated, original and funny than anything you’ve ever seen on an ice rink.”
A spokeswoman for their show, This is Contemporary Ice Skating, said: “Amidst the spins and sequins of traditional figure skating and the macho world of ice hockey, a group of irreverent yet world-class athletes have turned away from the ageing traditions of ‘On ice’ entertainment to develop their own contemporary and acrobatic dance style.”
Wolfgang Hoffmann, artistic director of Aurora Nova, said: “It is a unique, beautiful and visceral experience. And to then be allowed onto the ice to try out your own dance moves is just so much fun.”