More than 400 Islanders bundled into the chilly bleachers of the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena last Saturday for return performances by Le Patin Libre. The genre-shattering skate troupe from Montreal made its U.S. debut at the rink last April, astonishing local sports fans and arts aficionados alike with an unexpected blend of athletic prowess and modern dance aesthetics.

Troupe performs on skates, but is not always skating. — Alison L. Mead

“It’s been so great to see the response,” said David White, artistic director of The Yard, who first brought Le Patin Libre to the ice arena after seeing the group in Canada. “We saw families of hockey skaters, families of figure skaters. And the parents say, ‘It’s so great you’re showing our kids something different from competition.’”

Dance lovers also turned out, along with curious Islanders who’d heard about last spring’s performances of Vertical Influences, Le Patin Libre’s current show. What they witnessed at the rink was so thoroughly original that it can scarcely be described without frequently explaining what it’s not.

The four men and one woman in Le Patin Libre perform on skates, but they are not always skating. Sometimes they attack the ice like tap dancers, tumble like break dancers or rise on their toes with their blades digging into the surface. And when they glide — the troupe’s signature move — they hold themselves motionless as the blades carry them swiftly across the ice.

Vertical Influences features complex lighting, casual costuming, and original music. — Alison L. Mead

“They build up speed and then they let it go,” Mr. White said. “Their bodies are completely still and yet there’s an enormous amount of speed going on under them, on the frictionless ice. In some ways it’s quite minimalist, and yet it totally draws people in and pins them to their seats.”

The troupe uses original, often dramatic music, but is not afraid of turning off the soundtrack: Vertical Influences begins in silent darkness, its first sound the slice of skates approaching across the freshly surfaced rink. Later, again in silence, French-born member Samory Ba delivered a solo dance that needed no music to keep the audience riveted in attention.

Le Patin Libre’s costuming is casual, with none of the sequined glitz seen in traditional ice dancing. A complex, rink-level lighting design by dance lighting professional Lucy Carter replaces the bright overhead lights of the ice rinks where the troupe performs.

Most troupe members are classically-trained skaters. — Alison L. Mead

For the second half of Saturday’s shows, the audience was moved from the raised bleachers to seats that were set up at the scoreboard end of the rink itself. This put viewers on the same level as the skaters, who emerged from darkness at the far end of the ice as Carter’s lights blinked on, two by two, illuminating their advance until they glided to a brief stop directly in front of the seats.

The percussion-heavy music for Vertical Influences was composed by Jasmin Boivin, the only member of Le Patin Libre who did not grow up skating. Mr. Boivin first got involved with the troupe as a musician and learned to skate so he could join the ensemble. He is easy to spot on the ice, even when all five members are in rapid motion, because of his thick-bladed hockey skates.

The rest of the members, including founder and artistic director Alexandre Hamel, are classically trained figure skaters who have left behind the formalities of that discipline to pioneer what they call contemporary ice skating.

The Yard will bring Le Patin Libre back to the Vineyard next summer. — Alison L. Mead

Mr. Ba, who also serves as the troupe’s marketing and development agent, performed in shows like Holiday on Ice before joining Le Patin Libre not long after Hamel founded the company in 2005.

Pascale Jodoin, the group’s only female skater, worked as a circus performer in Montreal before joining Le Patin Libre in 2009. Taylor Dilley, a member since 2011 who serves as the company’s logistics director, was a junior king fu world champion before becoming a professional ice dancer.

All five skaters share in choreographing their works. For Vertical Influences, they also worked with the British-based Australian dramaturge Ruth Little.

Le Patin Libre will bring a new show to the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena in early August 2018, again under the auspices of The Yard. “We’ve made a long term commitment to them,” Mr. White said.