Thursday, September 13, 2012

Challenge Dance

I am ashamed.

I can't skate to the beat in ice dance.

Oh, I know the meter (waltz, tango, blues). I can hear the beat. I just can't skate to it. I'm always half a beat behind.

So, while I was at Lake Placid, I stumbled across a technique to help me out with my ice dance timing issues.

I skate a dance to the wrong song, in the wrong rhythm.

Yes, I'm a rebel. A wild child of ice dance. The hippy dippy skater.
Whoa, dude, like skate to the wrong music, like y'know, wow, man, like really, really wow.
(Yes, we did talk like this in the 60's)

I wanted to practice the Canasta Tango, but they were playing a waltz on freestyle. So I skated to it. You really have to concentrate when you're swapping stuff around. Then I did it to the Blues. Then other waltzes. I was getting better at getting on the beat, because I had to really, really think about what I was doing.

It's not hard to swap the steps for the preliminary dances to music it's not designed for. What steps are there? Swingrolls, progressives (crossovers), chasse's. Except for the step behinds in the Rhythm Blues, the dances are pretty interchangeable.  I asked the Amazing Coach about it for the upper level dances and she thought it might be possible with some small adjustments here and there.

Anyway, I demonstrated this with the Nasty as done to the music of the Dutch Waltz to some of the ice dancers who know my dread secret. I expected to get some critiques from them, but instead I got applause. Whether that was for my technique, or because I was finally on the beat I don't know. Considering my difficulty with the Nasty, it was a nice gesture.

Anyway, to all you ice dancers out there. How 'bout a round of Challenge Dance. Can you do the Dutch Waltz to a tango? Or the Rhythm Blues to a waltz beat?

PS: It absolutely drives Dance Coach crazy when I do stuff like this. He wants everything laid out, in order, with proper structure. 
We do dance the way dances are meant to be done!


  1. I'm fairly certain my coach would spontaneously combust if I did this. I will absolutely try it the next time I'm on the ice! :-)

    1. Yes, Russian coaches are very 'by the book'! Let us know what happens!

  2. My observation is that Most (non-professional) dancers are half a beat behind. I've been thinking about why that is. Is it like leaving the house, you think you're ready and you're not - you remember you have to turn the lights off? (You're not actually balanced...). Or is it that leaving the house involves quite a lot of procedures? So you think that your push is immediate, but actually involves gathering yourself together, bending your knee, making sure you're on a good inside edge and then leaning more, before your new skating foot actually hits the ice?

    I thought initially you meant that you danced the correct dance to the wrong music - this feels rather like pianists practising by changing where the stress is. I guess, anything that helps you focus on the moment rather than your fantasy?