With one line-up or another, Holiday on Ice has now been running for more than seventy years. This latest production takes inspiration from the performers’ own stories, but glosses the idea with enough inventive, high-energy spectacle to keep the format fresh. Though creator Bart Doerfler could have explored the theme in greater depth, the focus is on the skating, which is uniformly excellent.
Choreographer Jamie Isley pushes the dancers with intricate ensemble pieces, expressive solos, and some deceptively simple, but no less impressive, marches and sprints across the ice. A scattering of stumbles early on only underlines the challenge of the ambitious choreography, and each of the principals is given room to exhibit their technical ability. One exhilarating duet, riffing on the theme of ‘inter-cast friction’ sees Paula Soma and Olympian Lloyd Jones throw themselves into an updated tango which feels hugely passionate and downright dangerous.
Stephen Emmer provides a driving soundtrack of pop and club music, while Luc Peumans’ video projections, though somewhat scattergun, form bright and bold backdrops to the dancers. Snatches of behind-the-scenes footage and brief vox-pops from the ensemble provide only a little insight into the ups and downs of their careers, but then, no one can doubt the drive and determination of a cast containing so many competitive champions.
As the show goes on, the dances are given various vague titles – ‘Energy, Ambition, Inspiration’ – but ultimately it is the skaters’ skill and showmanship that speaks most eloquently of their passion.