Part 1. Introductory
They say if you can’t jump start ice-dancing as there is nothing complicated in ice-dance. But in fact except jumps dancers do a lot of difficulties: spins, steps and the most important thing — they are always extremely close to each other. To my mind, this is the main challenge in ice-dance. Even to fall is much more scary for dancers: there are two to fall. We are a fresh pair, Kate and me, and of course sometimes we fall. When you are falling time seems to slow down and you can see, for example, that you are going to land just on your partner and you try your best to minimize the damage for “the host partner”. If you caused the fall – you feel guilty and it is a story. And if you are an injured part – it is another one. But in both cases – sad stories.
But as we wrote before it is very interesting to dance. Ice-dancing is unlimited part of figure skating – new moves, new steps. Learning a new dance pattern is always a long and fascinating process. So your FS life will never be boring if you started to dance.
Talking about dance difficulties we’d like to start with dancing positions for ice-dancers, as the most challenging skills – to be close to each other, extremely close. The most important thing about positions is that the most intensively working parts of body – legs and hips – should be very close. Ideally a pair should remind “a tulip”. If instead of low parts of your bodies upper parts are close your pair will look like “a small house”. It is not right and it is not aesthetically.
So ice-dance holds. From my point of view they could be divided into two groups: when both partners look the same direction and when in opposite ones.
- Closed or Waltz Hold — opposite
- Open or Foxtrot Hold – same
- Outside or Tango Hold – opposite
- Kilian Hold — same
There are some variations of the holds but in the whole positions are few. But no matter what is your position in ice-dance you always check where your hands and arms are and if your back is strong enough. And don’t forget both partners are extremely close to each other.
Part 2. Emotional and psychological.
As I said before we are a fresh ice-dance pair and now perform only one dance based on the pattern “Starlight Waltz”, and it means that more often we are in Closed or Waltz Hold where partners look opposite directions. And we should look like “a tulip” but usually we are “a small house”. Why? There are two versions of “because” – from me, Galina Nikonova, and my partner Kate Meden.
“ I am an ex-dancer but not on ice. In contemporary dance close positions are frequent and in different gender combinations. Dancers are used to touching and being close to each other so Kate’s hands disturb me nowhere. A bigger problem is not to hurt, «to stab” my partner. This fear transforms “a tulip” into “a small house”. My instincts move my active legs far away from my potential “victim”. At the same time my dance on floor skills rather actively contradict ice-dance rules in arms and legs positions. For example, turnout of legs. But in spite of all these difficulties I claim ice-dancing thrilling and enjoying”.
“I am an ex-dancer as well. And I agree that there is a great difference between ice-dancing and dancing on the floor. I can’t say that ice-dancing completely denies classical choreography rules but you should know exactly where they work and where they don’t. And I think there is where a coach needed.
In our pair hurting and “stabing” is usually my cup of tea. Yeahh, I am rather dangerous. And it is so because 1) I want to follow all coach’s instructions 2) I am not confident enough. Dancing on the floor, even in close positions, you are stable and you have no two legs “knives”. On ice the situation is different. Trying to perform elements correctly I seldom feel stable. So often I have to choose – cheeting incorrect performing or risky correct.
I believe that my survival instinct interferes. When I fall my body “thinks” not my brains but I understand that I should think about my partner too especially as she is recovering after arm fracture now.
So what’s the main idea? I think that ice-dancing is a very complicated and interesting. And It only seems to be safe and “nonsporty”. In fact, “speed+edging+close positions” are risky enough to be compared with jumps of single skaters”.
Part 3. Expert and rational.
Our coach Alla Loboda, Bronze and Silver of World Junior Championships, comments our Waltz:
“Partners fingers should be gathered and the hand must be a little bit lower, just under the blade. The female partner’s arm must come against the shoulder of the male-partner. Not in the arm but lower. The partner’s hand must be fixed on the back without moving. Both partners should hold their free arms at the same distance. On the video I can see how the partner in the end is bending the elbow and pulling the arm towards herself. It is incorrect”.
Having read such comments we were not surprised. We heard it on ice already. Thinking about legs, turnout and close positions we forgot completely about hands and arms. And that’s the core of ice-dance challenge — you must think about many things and not only for one skater but for two. And amateur skaters are not used to that even if they are ex-dancers.