Brixton’s Ice Arena hosts the dynamic ice-skaters, Le Patin Libre, this weekend

Photograph by Olivier Brajon

Canadian contemporary ice-skating collective, Le Patin Libre, return to London with their new show, The Rule of 3, which shows at Brixton’s own ice arena this Saturday evening.  Brixton Blog’s Arts Editor, Ruth Waters, met Alexandre Hamel to find out more about the troop’s unique blend of acrobatic yet lyrical skating.

Le Patin Libre, or translated literally, ‘Free Skate’, is a collective of ex world-class figure skaters who wanted to escape the narrow bounds of skate culture in their native Canada. As Alexandre Hamel, founder of the collective, explains to me, skating in Canada falls into two strict camps: macho ice hockey and feminine figure skating. To skate and not to stay within the confines of these two disciplines, is treated not only as weird but almost blasphemous. However, despite having their creativity cramped by strict rules on Canada’s ice rinks, Le Patin Libre have continued to create their own genre of performance art: contemporary ice-skating.

The Rule of 3 is no Dancing On Ice. Asked to describe the show Alexandre tells me it’s dance, it’s weird and it’s funny. A weird, funny dance is not a description you would usually associate with an ice rink, but this show is a satire of the hollow glitz of figure skating, and – although wordless – has audiences laughing out loud. Apparently the London audience (the show opened at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday evening) really get the black humour of The Rule of 3, even though the show left some French audiences baffled.

Photograph by Olivier Brajon

Audiences to Le Patin Libre’s shows to date in the UK and around Europe have been a mixture of contemporary dance and theatre fans alongside figure skating enthusiasts. Alexandre describes the show as accessible to everyone. “You don’t have to be an expert in contemporary dance to enjoy The Rule of 3 – it’s visually bold, exciting and acrobatic. It’s funny and we encourage the audience to get involved”.

When asked how Brixton’s ice rink compares to other venues Alexandre is keen to tell me that a large part of the creation of The Rule of 3 has actually happened in Brixton. “It’s such a forgotten space”, he tells me, “although people walk past the rink all the time, only a small minority of people ordinarily ever go inside.” He hopes that The Rule of 3 will help to engage the local community with this fantastic resource right on their door step and show that it can be a dynamic and fun space, not just a place to play ice hockey.

The Rule of 3 is on at Planet Ice in Brixton on Saturday 12 January at 8.30pm. You can book tickets online or buy on the door.

If you miss it in Brixton, the collective will also perform at Alexandra Palace on 20 January.