ROBIN COUSINS’ ICE REVIEW
The Bristol Hippodrome
30th April – 3rd May 2014
My Mother has never been a great fan of watching sport but she occasionally makes an exception. When I was a child she would make sure we sat down as a family to appreciate the skill and beauty of ice-skating. We were lucky in the late seventies and early eighties to have been able to spur on British champions John Curry, Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean and of course the ridiculously successful figure skater Robin Cousins. We had a particular soft spot for him, not only because of his success as European Champion, World Champion and Olympic gold medalist, but also because we’re proud to be able to claim him as a fellow Bristolian. Nowadays many people might be more familiar with him as head judge on ITV’s successful show “Dancing on Ice”.
So when I had the chance to come and watch Robin Cousins ICE at The Bristol Hippodrome I took my 8 and 10 year old boys and, of course, my Mother.
I’ve never seen an ice show before so I had no idea what to expect.
With no storyline, I was struggling to see how the audience might be captivated for the best part of two hours and how on earth would they find enough space to fit a functioning ice-rink into the Hippodrome?!
When engrossed in the show, its easy to forget that just getting the rink into place must have been an enormous feat. The temporary ice conceals 15km of pipe work under the surface. Keeping the set very simple maximizes the skating area, its main feature a high arch spanning the width of the stage.
An illuminated sky at the rear changes colour to reflect the mood of each piece. Apart from the colour changes, the set remains virtually the same throughout, which has the benefit of making transitions from one piece to the next rapid and seamless.
Despite the absence of a story, the show was split into two acts and sub-divided into five ‘scenes’. I assume the sequence was random, designed to make the show varied and entertaining, as I could detect no logical order. A few of the scenes in particular caught our attention for various reasons.
- In ‘Dance with You’, the female partner’s splits in hold are performed in such a scanty leotard that I wasn’t sure where to look!
- Blade Runner features a clever clown-like male skater. He performs all sorts of fun stunts and after a series of dizzying spins, my eight year old spontaneously high clapped in appreciation. A definite child pleaser. (In fact my son appreciated the acrobatics throughout and was often the one who led the audience clapping after a clever move.)
- The singing skater. A great singing voice and the athletic body of a skater – very nice, thank you!
- Lady of Dreams is an aerial act involving a sequence of clever acrobatics, performed whilst precariously balancing on a high hula-hoop. Elegant and slightly nerve racking!
- One amazing dance features silver stiletto skates. Yes, you read that correctly; she was skating in a pair of stilettos, far higher than I’d like to walk in. This dramatic dance was a real crown pleaser and was met with wild applause.
- A ‘hot’ jazz sequence. Robin Cousins says,
“Skaters can move like no one else can, they can be motionless, yet travel at great speed.”
This is epitomised in the jazz section, which is perfect for ice.
- A beautiful ballet sequence
- A back flip on ice.
- A one handed lift, which was incredibly impressive until it was trumped by a sort of no handed lift/spin thingy on someone’s head. That sounds impossible doesn’t it? And I had had a glass of red and a moment with Robin Cousins by that point . . .
I liked the variety of groupings. Some performances featured traditional singles or pairs, but often there were odd numbers of skaters together – up to seven at a time, which seemed unusual and interesting.
Although some of the dancing is similar, I noticed that they don’t have the look of frailty which ballet dancers often do. The strength of these skaters is quite apparent in their physiques.
Robin Cousins has hand picked ice skaters from around the world for this new production and the quality of their craft is clear, but my Mother and I still couldn’t help but worry that they might fall off the stage with such a small space to work in! When I had the chance to speak to Mr. Cousins during the interval, I asked if the small performance area was a limitation. He confirmed that it was and explained that the art was to choreograph the moves accordingly.
I feel I should also mention here that he was very gentlemanly, suggesting we took several photos to ensure we had a good one. During poses he held the small of my back in a particular way that I suspect has developed from years of dance experience. I’ll certainly try to pass this tip onto my three sons as I’m certain it would be appreciated by their future girlfriends!
As long as a child can sit still for almost two hours with a break in the middle, I would say they’re probably old enough to see this show.
Conclusions and scores!
We have to have scores for this one don’t we?
My eight year old gave this show 8.5
“I really liked all of the dancing but I would have preferred a story. I probably couldn’t have done any of the acrobatics even without the ice!”
High praise indeed from my mini gymnast! As you can see, it was a little bit of a stretch even for me to perform the splits while on the points of my skates 😉
My ten year old didn’t mind that there was no story and scored it at 9.5.
“The dance moves were really impressive. I particularly liked the girl doing ‘the worm’ and the man doing a back flip. Well done to all the skaters and to Robin.”
I enjoyed the show much more than I had expected to and a standing ovation confirmed the general appreciation of most of the audience.
Mr. Cousins appeared on stage at the end of the show and addressed the audience,
“Thank you Bristol it’s good to be back”
It’s good to have you back Robin Cousins
Official website: http://www.robincousinsice.com/
ROBIN COUSINS’ ICE
Wednesday 30th April – Saturday 3rd May
Evenings at 7.30 pm
Matinees at 2.30 pm on Thu & Sat
11.30 a.m. also on Sat
Tickets: £10.00 – £35.00
Concessions available at certain performances
Official website: http://www.robincousinsice.com/
OTHER SHOW REVIEWS ON PRACTICALLY PERFECT MUMS
Disclosure: I received tickets for the purposes of reviewing this show. Of course all opinions are those of my family and my own and were not biased at all by the rather pleasant interlude with the great man himself!