Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ice Experiments: Dance

So I've been trying my hand at Ice Dance. I read everywhere that Ice Dance is what most adults gravitate to. There's no jumping and not much spinning, so the chance of falling and hurting yourself is less. I was trying Ice Dance as a way to get myself to listen to the music and move in time to it, not because it's a pursuit.

I've been learning the Dutch Waltz and Canasta Tango, two relatively simple dances. There's no turns involved, no fancy footwork, and certainly no point where both feet leave the ice. But it's a bit vexing. It's not that the skating is especially hard, it's just hard to do it right and in time, which is what I was expecting.

Progressives aren't so bad, it's just a Better Crossover. I think Crossovers are one of those things that are easy to learn at the outset, but can be continually improved as we go on. (Speaking as a skater who spent three months fixing her back crossovers from a stumbly mess into something test ready-pretty.) But even knowing that and having that in hand when I try a Progressive, that foot goes up and over because that's what it has been taught to do for the past three years. It's hard undoing three years worth of practice into setting the free foot down slightly in front of the skating foot. Plus I have Freestyle Coach's words ringing in my ears of "Extension" and "Free foot up higher, please," so I spend far too long on the move getting pretty, by which time I have to hurry to land on that outside edge to complete the lobe. Dance Coach is telling me to skip the extension and get the pattern down, which I know is right but hard. When the Progressive was coupled with a Chasse and a Swing Roll for the Tango, I had a lobe that started in Myrtle Beach and ended in Peoria.

Plus there's the End Patterns; Specific Moves you do around the ends which should get you right into starting position to do the pattern down the long axis again. Should. With The Dutch Waltz, I again take far too long on the Progressives, which makes that middle Swing Roll a disaster, and then I'm nearly into the wall for the subsequent Progressive back into the pattern. My Tango is caving in on itself by the second pass, my end pattern gets so wonky.

And no, I am not skating to the music. I think what I need to do is reconnect with Coach YouTube and watch these dances a few times, get a better idea of where my feet go and when, and learn to let go of "Pretty" for awhile.

But overall my impression of Ice Dance is this: Boring. As. Hell. The steps involved require building the muscle memory as well as my own memory, which means doing them over and over and over and over again. It's like conjugating Latin verbs while sitting in a freezer. Frankly, there's only so many times I can do a chasse badly before I start getting frustrated with it, which is strange given that I dedicate mornings to Edge/Figure work. Also, the music. Dear god, the music. I went online to try and seek out better ballroom dance music to play, and heaven help us, it all sounds that bad. Okay, maybe not "bad," but not my taste. I'm thinking of bringing a bubble machine to the last class and plastering a picture of Lawrence Welk in the penalty box.

Towards the end of my Ice Dance Practice Session, after flagellating myself with Swing Rolls for an hour, I find myself working on Program Elements just because they're a bit more challenging and to warm back up. Backwards steps on my toepicks because Coach loves those and I do, too, (even though I can't quite do them yet) and sneaky mazurkas because that's not technically a jump. Dance is so physically undemanding, I'm typically shivering at the end of the session. I'm not alone, a fellow freeskater does the same thing. I don't want to offend people to whom Dance is super cool and fun and exciting, but I'm thinking Dance is not for me right now. It was a nice experiment, and I'm not saying I won't take anything from it, but not right now.

I'm thinking my next experiment will be actual Patch. Once winter show is done...


  1. I almost gave up ice dance after passing my pre-bronze dances, but changed my mind after I attended my first dance weekend. The dances get much more interesting and I enjoy the social aspect of it. I continue to do solo dance to have something else to compete, but really, dancing is much more fun with people.

  2. It sounds like you're dancing by yourself. If so, is there a chance to skate with a partner? My coach, a former nationally-ranked dancer, skates with me and his power gets the dances going in ways I could never do myself. I am loving dance because I don't think my wonky knee is going to hold up for single jumps.