THE secret to figure skating’s enduring appeal is that it is one of the few recreational activities in which dangling your partner by their feet, their terrified head suspended just inches from the ground, can be considered a romantic gesture.
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Dancing on Ice head judge Robin Cousins is clearly aware of this fact and his latest creation is full of moments in which its cast put themselves to physical risk for our entertainment.
Aiming to “redefine ice skating for a new generation”, this ambitious show can be considered a culmination of Cousins’ 50-year career. An abundance of ideas feature throughout and a crack team of world class talent has been assembled to bring them to life. Many of its sequences go beyond skating itself, straying into illusion and acrobatics with entrancing results.
Less welcome, it has to be said, are the pyrotechnics employed throughout the evening.
Not only do they lead to the theatre being evacuated after triggering a fire alarm, but they generally serve as little more than cheap window dressing.
With a revolving team of performers tearing up the stage, it is unfortunate that Cousins feels the need to resort to distracting, outdated gimmickry.
Indeed, the main problem with Ice is that it struggles to satisfy the expectations of modern audiences while at the same time adhering to cosy showbiz traditions.
Though the skaters dance to sexy Lady Gaga hits, they wear fixed smiles and wave at the audience as though child actors posing for publicity photos.
With their tight-fitting formal attire and permanently outstretched arms, the male cast are more reminiscent of waiting staff than Chippendales.
Ridiculous as these faults may seem, they prove only diversions from an otherwise confident and high-energy showcase.
Consistently playful and intricately choreographed, the show’s loose structure ensures that it has something to offer everyone.
With its notable lack of themes or narrative, there is an almost magical purity to Ice, even if the production isn’t quite as cool as Cousins would like it to be.
• Run ends Saturday