because the personal is cultural
La crème de la crème of Quebec celebrities (Sébastien Benoit) and their children (Sébastien Benoit’s child) were at the Bell Centre Wednesday for the first of a four-day run of Ice Age on Ice.
The show begins with a squirrel finding an acorn. He buries it in… something and a rocket goes off. Follows a parade of the main characters of Ice Age on Ice: a sloth, a male and a female mammoth, two possums, a cougar, and their monkey friends. Though the dialogue is in French, all the songs are in English, so they sing “It’s your birthday / Happy birthday!” to mister mammoth in a surreal scene, like if one witnessed the 1990 live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ice skating. (Did they do that yet?) The cougar’s back legs are paralyzed, but luckily they slide easily against the ice. The mammoths are also held up by wheelchairs, so it’s nice that there’s a positive message against ableism.
Comes the triggering factor: the aforementioned acorn stuffing caused a volcano to wake up and it’s threatening to wipe out our heroes’ party with its lava. The sloth recalls a legend about an icy berry that freezes everything it touches, which seems like a rather simplistic solution to global warming. This gets exemplified by a dozen abstracted glittery snowflakes with Mohawks and a bird who spin to show they’re happy about the cold, which lets us know they’re not from Quebec. As the show is aimed at children, it’s not surprising to notice some slapstick, like when the sloth tries to catch a snowflake with its tongue and falls down. Children love to see people fall. Adults do too, but only when it’s not on purpose.
So our heroes decide to go on a hunt for the icy berry in order to throw it in the volcano and freeze it over. The lady mammoth stays home though because that’s where women belong. There is also the inevitable complication in the shape of a female fox who wants the berry for herself because it would allow her to remain frozen in youth because women are vein and don’t care about being burned alive by lava just as long as they look good all the while.
Enters a squirrel who is also female, which we know because she is limp-wristed, waves her arms around a lot and wears makeup, as lady squirrels do. She’s an acorn-digger who needs a male squirrel so he can give her his nuts because she can’t get them herself. Her boobs get in the way. Except that mister squirrel realizes he lost his nut and has a psychotic breakdown in what is by far the highlight of the show. He hallucinates sixteen acorns dancing around him in what can be best described as a psychedelic drug trip.
Then there’s the Zamboni. No, wait… It’s just the mammoth’s big ass! I love fat jokes.
Anyway, they get the frozen berry, the fox tries to steal it but fails by losing it in a hockey match and apologizes for her behaviour. She’s surprised that our heroes would still want to hang out with her, which is understandable because what a sausage party!
But then it turns out that two possums ate the frozen berry. Why our heroes would leave the life-saving berry to animals who were clearly not aware of their plan is beyond me, but it doesn’t matter because it becomes obvious that the berry has no magical powers since the possums don’t turn to ice. Take that, magical-thinking solution to global warming!
That’s when mister mammoth has an idea: what if they caused a snow avalanche that would put out the volcano by jumping up and down? (Does this even make sense scientifically?) He asks his lady what she thinks and she replies that she believes in him because she’s a supportive woman with no opinion of her own. I’ll let you guess how it ends.
The show follows a simplistic structure: plot, figure skating, plot, figure skating, ad nauseam; like if Xavier Dolan was into the Ice Capades instead of slow motion. As with stories in contemporary dance, the two fail to connect in any meaningful way. All we perceive is the poverty of dance as a storytelling medium. Do we really need stories to make us swallow everything, including figure skating? There’s something almost patronizing about it, like Ice Age on Ice is just using characters kids already know and love to shove figure skating down their throat. As Spice World already pointed out back in 1997, it doesn’t matter what happens. Hell, nothing even needs to happen. All we need are those recognizable faces and we’ll eat it up.
Ice Age on Ice did give me a few ideas as to how contemporary dancers could make more money though:
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com