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'As figure skaters we don't get to be teenagers': These skating rebels are transforming the art form

Le Patin Libre is a band of ice skating artists who are breaking all the traditions of the art to create something defiantly new.

Le Patin Libre is a band of ice skating artists who are breaking traditions to create something defiantly new

Le Patin Libre is a band of ice skating artists who are breaking all the traditions of the art to create something defiantly new. 3:26

The rivalry Tonya Harding felt with Nancy Kerrigan, and its ensuing violent resolution, call to mind how vicious competitive figure skating can get. What might be less salacious is the limitations that world can impose on the artistry itself. Skating artist Alexandre Hamel grew up on the figure skating circuit, and he wanted to break free and truly show his creativity on the ice.

That was the drive behind founding Le Patin Libre, an energetic group of skating artists challenging the traditional rules of skating. They attack the ice in their piece "Vertical Influences," which they performed at this year's Luminato in Toronto. And Hamel is optimistic that the new generation of figure skaters have more room to play than he did when he was a kid.

(CBC Arts)

"This new generation of parents are less about obedience and are less about imitating the champions they saw on TV, so I see kids having more freedom in their athletic leisure," he says. "So maybe out of this, we'll have figure skaters that won't be in tiny little boxes like that, and will have kept their intelligence and their creativity — and will be able to push the discipline outside of the system and outside of the sport federations and will be able to develop something more free, more artistic, more open to social/cultural exchanges."

Le Patin Libre is in Europe through January, but you can catch them at Danse Danse in Montreal, April 11-22.

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 12:30am (1am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.

About the Author

Luke Correia-Damude

Luke Correia-Damude is a Toronto based producer, writer and musician. He regularly works and collaborates with the production company ISTOICA. When Luke is not producing video content he spends his time performing and writing with the band Future Peers.

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