Bristol Hippodrome

Robin Cousins' ICE

April 2014

The last time I saw former Olympic champion and Dancing on Ice head judge Robin Cousins on stage at the Bristol Hippodrome he was ascending a stairway to heaven as the Teen Angel in touring show Grease.

But this week the Bristolian boy who we know can sing and dance was back in town in a backstage role as director and choreographer of ICE.

This is a touring triumph which brings together world class skaters in at theatrical delight.

From curtain up it glistened and sparkled and the audience on Wednesday evening loved every moment – whooping and cheering with gusto as the skaters glided, spun and somersaulted around the frozen stage.

In one breathtaking sequence a skater danced wearing killer silver stiletto heels and in another a performer did vertical splits without any helping hands!

To go with the whoops from the home crowd there were suspended ceiling hoops, front row fireworks, magic boxes and treats galore along with comic moments in the spotlight – all creating awe-inspiring sections.

The gymnastics of US Brandee Malto and the hilarious routines of Canadian Vaughn Chipeur were show stopping.

It opened in the morning mist with the wind howling with tai chi-style movements.

The scantily dressed girls skated in floaty, sequined costumes similar to cheeky baby doll bedwear while the male skaters changed from plain grey trousers and white shirts to formal tuxedoes for the finale.

Not sure about the setting or linking but it must be 

difficult to design around the restrictions of a stage-size rink.

The scenery worked best when the backdrop looked like a snow globe rather than the multi-coloured half oval which turned into a Japanese orange moon or bright blue geometry shape against huge figure skating blade cut-outs.

The national tour which began in January ends at the Hippodrome on Saturday, May 3.

ICE features a powerful soundtrack of original music and reworked modern classics designed to delight and enthral.

Robin Cousins said “It’s been 30 years since I created Electric Ice which took to the theatrical stage and changed the look of ice shows.

“I am very excited to bring the daring and dazzling world of figure skating back into an intimate theatrical setting.

“The show is not an adaptation of a ballet, or borrowed from the world of musical theatre.

“There are no judges, just the audience.

“It is a show where the choreography is driven by the

music, where the movement has room to breathe, and the skaters can let their blades do the talking.

“To be able to move like a skater is every dancer’s dream to be motionless yet travelling at great speed.”

With the Disney animation Frozen topping the DVD sales charts this could have been so topical but while the film is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen unfortunately ICE has no story.

When you compare with the new show Dance 'Til Dawn! with Strictly Come Dancing favourites Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace which was a thrilling whodunit or the electric energy of Riverdance when they included the flamenco in their fire dance show ICE isn’t in that league.

Having said that we took two primary-aged youngsters to this show who loved every moment – the ice-skating spectacle had them mesmerised from the start and at just under two hours it is the ideal for their attention span.

But when asked what the show was all about one said: “Ice skating – there isn’t a story.”

Point made.

 

Carol Deacon

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