Le Patin Libre's "Grande Forme" at Bryant Park
The Association of Performing Arts Professionals’ (APAP) UP NEXT! pitch sessions last month at the trade group’s annual conference at New York’s Hilton Hotel Midtown gave presenters and producers a chance to check out new works, currently in development or recently completed, in a high-speed format where artists, agents and/or managers had only five minutes to pitch a performance piece, including taking questions from the audience.
One of the standouts was the Montreal-based contemporary ice skating collective Le Patin Libre (“Free Skate”), which was promoting Grande Forme (“Great Shape”)—its first larger ensemble work, which it showcased in a pair of stellar five-minute demonstrations at the busy Rink at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park.
The new piece is inspired by the patterns observed while watching birds and fish moving en masse, i.e., flocking. Under the direction of Alexandre Hamel, who founded Le Patin Libre in 2005 as a performing arts troupe offering opportunities outside conventional figure-skate performance, Grande Forme manifests the company’s focus on what it calls “the glide,” or “grounded flight”: a choreographed, flowing group-gliding movement that opens and closes and flits about birdlike, whizzing through space artfully--solo and in group configuration.
“Between play, sport and dance, ice skating is an activity that has the ability to gather people in an extraordinary way,” Le Patin Libre states on its website. “Even though we are focused on ice skating’s potential as a choreographic medium, we embrace its identity as a leisure [activity] and as an important part of the popular culture in which our project was born. So we use ice skating as an entry door to arts and as a way to create unforgettable events.”
Le Patin Libre