Threshold al fresco

You can never really predict what might lie around the corner in New York City, and if you were lucky enough to be passing through Bryant Park one evening this week, you might have come across a performance unlike any other. On the ice rink of Bryant Park’s Winter Village – usually stuffed with holiday tourists and too crowded for any sort of moment of contemplation – a contemplative work of art unfolds, inviting you to pause and simply watch artists in the mastery of their craft. Le Patin Libre, the Montreal-based contemporary skating company, has brought their lauded performance Threshold to the outdoor ice rink at Bryant Park for just three performances.

French-Canadian contemporary skating company Le Patin Libre was founded in 2005 by artistic director and involved performer Alexandre Hamel, and the bios of its five members tell a fascinating tale of rejecting the rigidity of traditional figure skating. Their combined classical skills and rebellious artistic expression come together to create something truly unique and powerful. Le Patin Libre is a collection of talented multihyphenates: Jasmin Boivin is the musical director and composer, Pascale Jodoin designed the costumes, and each of the five skating artists are credited as choreographer as well. 

For me personally, to watch them skate was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The performers were graceful, precise, elegant, and yet so totally unhindered in a way that one would never associate with figure skating. Dressed comfortably and causally, so opposite from the skin-tight uniforms we think of on ice, they exuded confidence and coolness. Rolling, sliding, gliding, and spinning to music composed by Boivin, the performers swept through a range of emotions from lighthearted, dark, tense, hopeful, and more. With each sequence, they demonstrated just how talented on the ice they were. In one of the first beats of the show, performers glided and turned so sharply that I could have sworn I saw sparks shooting from beneath their skates. 

Threshold al fresco is a shortened version of Le Patin Libre’s original Threshold, and at just around 45 minutes from the introductions to the applause, every beat will keep you on your toes. The show is a wonderful, unique fusion of skating prowess and contemporary dancing. It’s free and open to the public for three nights only, and if you’re near Bryant Park this week, I recommend at least stopping by and taking a peek. To see this performance on a chilly night, bundled up against the cold and following the skaters’ every move while trying to keep your jaw from dropping, is nothing short of a winter treat.

Company: Le Patin Libre

Choreography: members of Le Patin Libre (Alexandre Hamel, Pascale Jodoin, Jasmin Boivin, Samory Ba, Taylor Dilley)

Composer: Jasmin Boivin

Costume design: Pascale Jodoin

Lighting: Lucy Carter and Sean Gleason

Dramaturg: Ruth Little

Approx. 45 minutes

Performers: Alexandre Hamel, Pascale Jodoin, Jasmin Boivin, Samory Ba, Taylor Dilley