Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lifts and the Singles Skater

The Audition happened, and aside from some minor needless lobby drama, it went well. I officially passed my ISI FS1 test, so I'm completely legit to be in the show, and we're all set to start work on the Official Mom and Dad program for the Holiday Show.

Last year we did try some lift work. For a variety of reasons, it was not successful. The finished product wound up being a simpler version of our Audition Routine, and I was less than happy with it. It was just a few three turns and a waltz jump, and a pair spin. I felt that for all the work I'd put into it, I had not much to show in the end and was a little disappointed. The goal of "two music box dancers who skate apart and come together again" wasn't me.

But this year is shaping up to be so much different.

This year, the Pair Coach called us over after a try at side-by-side back crossovers and asked me what I was thinking while I was doing it. I stated my problems honestly and clearly, and he listened to me fully, and respected what I had to say. And that felt absolutely wonderful.

And we're trying Lifts.

For the Record, I want to do a lift. Desperately. They're dramatic and showy, and the WOW factor can't be beat. I have been lifted on and off the ice by three coaches, and every single time was simply breathtaking. Just being wrapped up and picked up and spun around was really amazing, and I want to do that for a show! I'd like to hear an audience gasp at my daring, not because I fell on my face.

How it feels when a Coach lifts me.

But Lifts don't come without their peril. After all, you're being picked up while in ice skates by someone in ice skates, and those rockers are not forgiving. Your lifting partner has to be sure of himself and his blades, he's got to grab you in just the right spot, ("Watch his arm," a visiting coach told me. "If he grabs you on a floating rib he could break it.") and pick you up without upsetting his own balance. Then, you, the Liftee, have your own job to do. You have to get into position for the grab, plie and give a little assist jump, (but not too much!!) and lean into your partner as he does his thing. When you touch down, you have to find your balance point on your blade before he lets go and you do the next thing.

And it all happens in about ten seconds.

Bigger than that though, is that the Fear of Falling is suddenly amplified about a hundred times. I don't know why. The lift we are doing, the Stag Lift, puts me only about six inches farther above the ice than I normally am. But if we fall, we fall together. Plus, there's your Lifter's mindset, which I'm sure has to be "Can I lift this person? Didn't I see her eat cookies and skittles during the public session last weekend? Can I do this and not kill the two of us in the process??"

From my vantage point, I can tell the moment someone lays hands on me what they are thinking. I pretty much know if they are confident they can swing me around, or if they have the hesitant touch of someone who isn't really sure. My partner is currently unsure.

What I'm thinking will happen when Partner lifts me.

But Pairs Coach is pushing the issue, and today we tried the lift on the ice for the first time. PC spotted me, Partner was behind me. "I've got you," PC promised as I let go of the wall. Partner's unsure hands grabbed me at the ribs and under my thigh, PC picked up the slack weight, and up I went. Not too terrible. We did this about four times, and if there was ever a time when I wanted to hear a coach say, "Let's move on," it was now.

When we were done, he looked at us both and asked us what we were thinking. I said I was still scared to do it on the ice.

"But you want to do this, right?"
"Absolutely," I said it before thinking.
"Okay," he had on an unusually serious expression. "Then we work on it."

So. In the vein of "You have to sacrifice to get what you want," I'm debating not going to the final event of Skate America on Sunday, so I can head back to the rink and work on the Lift Off-Ice again. It's just the "Spectacular" Show Thing anyway, and all I really want to see is the competition part. I was going to have to leave a bit early anyway so I could be rested for my lesson at dawn... yeah. I just find it more than a bit ironic that I have to leave skating. Because I have skating.