Alexandre Hamel established the world’s first contemporary ice-skating collective, Montreal-based Le Patin Libre, in 2005. Attracting rebel skaters that turn their back on the world of figure skating or more conventional opportunities for skate performance, Le Patin Libre seeks to reinvent what is possible on ice.
Using the skates to create brand new movements which are explained as “grounded flight”, the gliding motion as well as the sound of the skates opens new possibilities for movement and dance. But can Le Patin Libre be described as a dance company? It is Hamel’s view that:
“Branding it as contemporary dance is bad for marketing. Contemporary dance is often seen as elitist, boring […] for snobs by a very large section of the public.”
This is a company that defies traditional categories. Conventions do not dictate Le Patin Libre, who have established and fostered their own audiences and styles of movements. They explain their work as contemporary skating. The sound of the ice, the feel of the ice, the setting of performance as well as the different capacity that skating provides the company, are all captured in their work.
Alexandre’s passion for his work and company is incredible and is captured throughout the interview. His advice for young dancers is: “get out of universities, just dance.” This is an artistic leader that has passion to pursue his own path and make his own rules. A rebel with a cause!
Our conversation covered everything from gender and ice skating, adrenalin, aspects of glide, engaging audiences, what is next and what it has taken to get the company off the ground and out into the world. Apologies for the potential mispronunciation of Le Patin Libre, French is not my strong point :)
You can follow Hamel on twitter @Alexandre_Hamel and the company @lepatinlibre. Like on Facebook. Watch some of there amazing work for yourself, join their newsletter and check out Le Patin Libre website.
This is the last episode of season one. What started as a pilot has actually gone pretty crazy, with the previous episodes reaching thousands of people. Planning for season two has already commenced, where I will be investing more money to improve the quality of the recordings and make a few other changes. Until then stay tuned on twitter and revisit all the other episodes with: Gideon Obarzanek, Deborah Jowitt, Michael J Morris, Rafael Bonachela and Stephanie Lake.
Photo credit: Alicia Clarke for Dance Umbrella.