Olympic star to reality show judge, Robin Cousins is bringing his latest ice skating show to Yorkshire. Nick Ahad spoke to him.
IT’S probably fair to say that it was in 1984, when Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean performed to Ravel’s Bolero that we sat up and noticed that if you took dancing and you took ice skating and you put them together, the result could be something really quite spectacular.
It is amazing to think that that moment, at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics, was almost three decades ago – and the spectacle of watching dancing on ice has not grown old and tired. If anything, it has grown in popularity.
For evidence, look no further than Dancing on Ice, the hugely popular ITV show which came back to our screens for a final series on Sunday.
The viewing figures go to show that the public remain hungry for the elegance of skaters dancing across a frozen surface. Lead judge on Dancing on Ice Robin Cousins is banking on that, with his show Robin Cousins’ Ice skating into theatres around the country and gliding into Bradford early next month.
The show, at the Bradford Alhambra February 4-9, features skaters performing to a soundtrack of modern classics and original music.
For Cousins, who is an Olympic champion in his own right, bringing the show to UK theatres is a continuation of a career in the theatre which was a natural continuation of his role as a performer.
“It’s been 30 years since I created Electric Ice which took to the theatrical stage and changed the look of ice shows. I am very excited to bring the daring and dazzling world of figure skating back into an intimate theatrical setting.
“Both of my previous shows, Electric Ice and Ice Majesty, were created in the UK, and I’m very proud that the World Premiere of Robin Cousins’ Ice will happen here too.”
When putting an ice rink inside a theatre, you have to have a pretty good reason – not least because of the technical demands.
Cousins is adamant that his latest show doesn’t need a narrative.
“It’s not a play or a musical, it’s something entirely different,” he says.
“It doesn’t need a story – the whole point is for people to come and see a show where they can simply admire the technical skill of the skaters on the stage.”
For the latest show, he has scoured the globe, bringing together skaters from all around the world, including Olympic standard skaters from Canada.
“The show is not an adaptation of a ballet, or borrowed from the world of musical theatre. There are no judges, just the audience.
“It is a show where the choreography is driven by the music, where the movement has room to breathe, and the skaters can let their blades do the talking,” he says.
“To be able to move like a skater is every dancer’s dream. To be motionless, yet travelling at great speed. Skaters are able to soar across the frozen stage in ways a dancer can only dream of doing. I have been working ‘on ice’ for over 40 years, from my start in regional club competitions to World and Olympic Championships.
“Every new project brings its own challenges and I relish the chance to try something new with tried and tested ideas. I’m always pushing myself in new directions.”
There is another element to the show – it is a chance to see the standard of skating audiences normally experience only when watching events like the Olympics – which, Cousins says, is significantly better than that you might see in Dancing on Ice.
“I’m not decrying a show I’ve loved and been involved with for nine years, but what the celebrities are doing is not real figure skating.
“Not anything like the standard people will see in this show anyway.”
An Olympian career on ice
After winning the Olympic Gold Medal at Lake Placid in 1980, Cousins won the World Free Skating Championship Gold Medal three times, along with World Championship Silver and European Championship Gold.
For his services to sport and skating, Cousins was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1980.
A highly successful career as a professional skater followed, appearing as special guest star with Holiday On Ice, with whom he set new, and currently unbroken, Box Office records for attendance levels, with 500,000 customers over a six week season at Wembley Arena.
He is Honorary Vice President of the National Ice Skating Association.
Robin Cousins’ Ice, Bradford Alhambra, Feb 4-9. O1274 432000.