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The first American Contemporary Skating Festival

The first American Contemporary Skating Festival

If you didn’t come this year, book for next year.

This is an absolute must.


A couple of weeks ago, on 9th and 10th of June, the first American Contemporary Skating Festival was held in Boston, MA. Sponsored by the American Ice Theater, Kate McSwain, artistic director of AIT Boston organized something which was distinctly different to the average skating reunion. Feedback.

The inspiration to gather people around the idea of contemporary skating was born at Cyberglace, Monéteau, in France (kind of in the middle of nowhere, I must say) under the guiding influence of Le Patin Libre, Alexandre Ricitelli and Thierry Voegeli. Their first edition of -5°C sur scène, which translates to “-5°c on stage” (or “23°f on stage” for the Americans out there) was organized for the very first time in 2012. The genius idea travelled all the way to Berlin, where a festival of contemporary skating was also organized last year. So it was last year, as they were working in Reykjavik, that Kate McSwain and Garrett Kling decided to head off to Berlin for some contemporary pleasures and here they conceived the idea of this American contemporary skating festival. It was around a table (probably in front of a drink or even a few drinks) that Kate claimed she would do it.

Next year, get ready Boston: The first American Contemporary Skating Festival.

And so she did.

Kate McSwain gathered more than 40 people on and off the ice – 42 in fact, if my memory serves me well. Most of them choreographers and professional skaters from all over the US and Europe, notably with the presence of Elisa Siegmund, one of the pioneers of contemporary skating in Europe, organisator of the contemporary festival in Berlin and an unquestionable Ice Queen of contemporary skating.

Throughout the weekend, workshops were held on and off ice by presenters and we could noticeably recognize the inspiration coming from models of the world of dance, movements, and art. From Laban’s eight efforts to conceptual Art, going through theater exercises and edge classes. From the number of ways of executing a cross-roll through time to how to bounce your way with an awesome hip-hop choreo, the weekend was full of inspiration. And it felt good. I must say it was a one of a kind pleasure to be present among all these creative people, professional skaters, choreographers, coaches, and skaters. Kate’s headline: “Create, compose, communicate, collaborate and connect” perfectly summarized the whole weekend, and it was with this special, open, creative, almost tangible energy, that the weekend progressed.

One point I must underline is, contrary to what could be very typical of the skating-community, is that there were no particular highlights, just people sharing. It was a true experience that all members could feel involved in and be a real part of a growing community. Goes without saying, and awfully clichée, but I wish the weekend would have lasted longer. The Showcase felt the same, from the Ice Theatre teams “Broadway on Ice” and “Crystal Blades”, the wonderful AIT ensemble present for the event, to probably some of the most arty-athletic-kicked performances I’ve seen these past years. They flowed beautifully contemporarily into each other.

Definitively not just a must-see, this is a must-be.

For the press release/blog entry regarding the Festival written by Garrett Kling, click here.

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