Creator &Choreographer: Robin Cousins
Reviewer: Maggie Constable
Three decades on from his Electric Ice, Olympic skating champion and chief judge on the much-loved show, Dancing on Ice, Robin Cousins, has personally selected 14 world-class ice skaters from all compass points for his amazing new show Ice at Milton Keynes this week. This is no typical ice show but it is, as Robin himself has said, “the daring and dazzling world of figure skating in an intimate theatrical setting.”
The show opens with Winterscape as the whole cast whirl and twirl in and out to ‘Breathe’. A serene beginning with a wonderful atmosphere against an effective sparkling silvery set whose parts glide in and out affording us glimpses of the skaters. As Cousins states in the programme notes, “skaters are able to soar across the frozen stage in ways a dancer can only dream of doing”. That is so clearly evident in Winterscape. Annie Aggeler’s solo to ‘Captivate’ is beautiful. She is so expressive both with her movement and in her face. She stands out from the rest, as talented as they all are. Dynamic Brandee Malto and Neill Shelton are a superb coupling in their sassy and humorous little number Dance With You and this provides a great contrast to the opening piece. Even funnier, but with such awesome skill and a definite stage presence, is Vaughn Chipeur, who performs solo to ‘Blade Runner’. Clever tricks with lights too! And his back somersaults, as seen twice in the production (one front stage almost has you hiding your eyes lest he fall he is that close to the edge!), demonstrate real skill, control and fearlessness. ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ is beautifully skated but lacks the same level of real emotional connection.
In Lady of Dreams, part of Hakuchumu, we have Kate Endriulaitis performing gymnastic feats with a suspended and oft moving hoop in mid-air. What that young women can do with a hoop is more than impressive…. The first act ends with a full ensemble hip-hop style dance which is good fun and ends aptly with a bang!
Act 2 brings us Rhythm with a lovely pas de deux – to borrow a ballet term – by Oscar Peter and Lisa Brewin, danced to the song ‘More Than Words’. They bring true feeling to the choreography. However, very special mention has to go to one Michael Solonoski who not only skates but sings ‘Tonight’ simultaneously and we are talking double axels!!!! He holds the audience transfixed by his incredible skating as much as he holds the perfect melody. ‘Invocation’ follows with three female skaters-Annie Aggeler, Lisa Mochizuki and Lisa Brewin. What lyricism and the costumes add to the overall effect. Indeed, the set and costumes, both by David Shields, are cleverly and appropriately designed throughout. Tim Mitchell’s lighting is mesmerizing and works so well with Maurice Luttikhuis’ wide-ranging soundtrack of both reworked and original compositions.
The “intimate theatrical setting” that Cousins describes works brilliantly but this reviewer remains amazed by how much the skaters can achieve in such a restricted space! An utterly enjoyable and spectacular evening’s entertainment.
Runs until: Sat 12 April 14