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Author Topic: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?  (Read 1808 times)

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Offline Resurfaced

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Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« on: January 22, 2017, 04:16:32 PM »
Graduating to dance blades from all-around blades (Coronation Ace/MK Pro type). What should I expect? Any cautions, warnings, or helpful hints would be appreciated.

Offline nicklaszlo

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2017, 05:39:14 PM »
I once heard a coach say that if you switch to a blade with a shorter heel, it can be helpful to switch to a boot with a higher heel.  No personal experience, though.

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2017, 05:44:11 PM »
I have only been skating a year so I am not sure how valuable my experience will be to you. I just switched to dance blades for a variety of different reasons. IME, people have different reasons for switching but I know several skaters who have skated both freestyle and dance tests in freestyle blades with no problem. Anyway, I switched because 1) My ultimate goal is dance and my coach encouraged me to make that my next blade. 2) My previous blades were very beginner MK single stars, a bit slow I discovered. 3) My soles are still in good enough shape to hold a new blade. 4) I have been skating more and more with my husband practicing  moves together and he decided on dance blades with his new pair of custom skates, I thought it might help us keep out of each other's way.

So my blade is fairly minor as far as dance blades go, the Coronation Dance.  There are a few differences, yes the blade is shorter but that just seems to make certian moves a bit easier, less blade clicking, also my fear of falling over backwards never materialized. . The rocker is more pronounced and easier to find, a little harder to control, I have to check my body more strongly to prevent over rotation on turns. The toe pick is placed higher on the blade, it is still a fairly strong toe pick, but it is more out of the way. The ROH is 7/16  from 1/2" on my other blades and feels more narrow, it has been more challenging to hold my outside edges, requires me to really flex my ankle and press into the ice. Overall they are just faster, my speed is much faster with less effort.


Offline Resurfaced

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2017, 08:36:06 PM »
The rocker is more pronounced and easier to find, a little harder to control, I have to check my body more strongly to prevent over rotation on turns.

Checking strongly is a good habit to grow, especially in dance.

…feels more narrow, it has been more challenging to hold my outside edges, requires me to really flex my ankle and press into the ice.

Flexing and pressing are also good habits to grow. The holding the edge part is a little worrisome, though I had heard the narrowness of the blade made turns easier (faster to switch from edge to edge, I assume).

Overall… my speed is much faster with less effort.

This is good news! Sort of. Still afraid of speed across the ice… gotta get over that. But that's another post for another day. Thanks, Ethereal.

Offline Resurfaced

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2017, 08:43:21 PM »
I once heard a coach say that if you switch to a blade with a shorter heel, it can be helpful to switch to a boot with a higher heel.  No personal experience, though.

Not in the market for new boots yet, unfortunately, but will keep that in mind for down the road. Being vertically challenged, I wouldn't mind some extra height, though! ;)

Offline Query

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2017, 10:09:03 PM »
I moved from Coronation Ace to MK Dance. It was a huge change. But wow - The MK Dance were so much faster, probably because the working part of the blade is thinner. And I stopped tripping on the back of my blades when my teachers said that "neat feet" required the free foot to sometimes be placed as close to the back of the skating foot as possible. (Other aspects - thin blades change edges a bit more quickly, and for whatever reasons Dance blades are easier to twizzle on, harder to spin on.) I loved the MK Dance blades. And most of the really high end ice dancers use them, though it may be partly because the MK/Wilson manufacturer gives away blades to some of the best skaters. But, alas, MK Dance aren't cheap.

BTW, in theory thin blades are harder to balance. I didn't notice that on the MK Dance - but I have noticed it a lot on speed skates, which are even thinner. You may also notice that MK Dance are a little higher off the ice - maybe to give you room to edge more without scraping the sides of the boots as much, especially on the deeply edged underpushes that many ice dancers love. Again, the extra height might be a slight balance issue, but the balance issue will likely disappear with time.

For economic reasons I switched to Ultima Dance - which was an even bigger change, because Ultima shapes the front of blades a lot different than MK and Wilson -  the spin rocker and toe pick position will be quite different from Wilson Coronation Ace, and I think from the MK Pro, they I never used the latter blade. Unless you are very adaptable, you might want to stay away from Ultima. I'm not sure, but I think Eclipse Dance might be roughly comparable to MK Dance, but are cheaper. Though none of the dance blades that I know of are particularly cheap. I do know that some of my ice dance teachers chose to dance on freestyle blades, so it is possible.

You can simulate higher heels by shimming the mounts, adding something like tape between the rear mounting plate and the heel, but that gets a little complicated, because you don't want to warp the blade, by forcing the plates to bend from having all the pressure at the back of each mount point - so you may need less tape width at the very back, and to also add a little tape to the front of the front plate mount. High heels or similarly shimmed mounts have some side effects, like moving the toe pick further from the ice, and possibly changing your comfortable balance points. BTW, I found high heels very painful, and had to have my dance boots modified to drop them, but I am a guy.

MK (and Wilson) blades are available with parabolic side honing (slightly thinner in the middle, advantage uncertain, but complicates sharpening a lot), and Revolution mounts (lighter, cushions jump impacts). My best guess is that both are mostly a waste of money for an ice dancer, but I could be wrong.

Unfortunately I haven't tried enough different types of Dance blade to give you a full blade comparison. Plus, I'm not that great a skater.

Offline Resurfaced

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2017, 10:27:48 AM »
Apologies for this thread being in the wrong section—should be in "The Pro Shop”—it's my first post, so don't hit.

What terrific info! Thanks so much, Query.

I moved from Coronation Ace to MK Dance. It was a huge change. But wow - The MK Dance were so much faster

Excited to hear this—especially that your first reaction was "wow"! (BTW if I continually use the "quote" function, this post will be three pages long, so forgive me if I just use bold type.)

neat feet —Never thought about it, but yes, shorter blades would help with that!

Dance blades are easier to twizzle on, harder to spin on —Love to work on spins, but concentrating on dance—nice to be pre-warned, though.

in theory thin blades are harder to balance. I didn't notice that on the MK Dance… —Interesting.

…but I have noticed it a lot on speed skates, which are even thinner —You are brave!

higher off the ice… edge more without scraping the sides of the boots —Yes, I've seen the scraped boots of an elite ice dancer, and totally get this.

For economic reasons I switched to Ultima Dance… rocker and toe pick position will be quite different… might want to stay away —My coach doesn't like her Ultimas, mostly because the toe pick position doesn't warn her soon enough when she's too far forward, and advised me against them also.

Eclipse Dance might be roughly comparable to MK Dance, but are cheaper —Lots. This is what I'm switching to. My MK Pros are essentially done sharpening-wise, and Coach suggested Eclipse Dance to help my turns, so I went for it. Just starting Bronze dances, so not sure I'm technically proficient enough yet to really appreciate the nuances, but hoping the advantages will help.

some of my ice dance teachers chose to dance on freestyle blades —Also true, and also know of this firsthand. There's a young teen at my rink who is a phenomenal ice dancer, and at Silver she's still on FS blades. (But she is doing doubles as well.)

simulate higher heels by shimming the mounts —Interesting, but sounds way too tricky. I'd rather get new boots if it becomes an issue.

parabolic side honing… Revolution mounts… mostly a waste of money —Agreed, particularly at my level. Though I was way over-bladed in (side-honed) Phantoms when I skated freestyle, and loved them.

Unfortunately I haven't tried enough different types of Dance blade to give you a full blade comparison. Plus, I'm not that great a skater.

What you wrote was SO helpful, Query. No apologies needed! With that much of a knowledge base, I'm guessing you're selling yourself way short on the ability issue… ;) Thanks again!

Offline Query

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2017, 09:35:18 PM »
Coach suggested Eclipse Dance to help my turns, so I went for it.

If you trust your coach, it is probably a good idea to follow his or her advice, unless and until it gets you into trouble. That's part of what you pay him/her for. Ignore me. I've only passed Preliminary. (Could probably pass pre-bronze if I worked at it, but can't find a partner), but that is about it. And I make plenty of mistakes.


Offline Resurfaced

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2017, 05:04:27 AM »
If you trust your coach, it is probably a good idea to follow his or her advice, unless and until it gets you into trouble. That's part of what you pay him/her for. Ignore me. I've only passed Preliminary. (Could probably pass pre-bronze if I worked at it, but can't find a partner), but that is about it. And I make plenty of mistakes.

I do trust my coach, completely—just didn't want to pelt her with lots of extra questions. Lesson time is too short as it is! Plus forewarned is forearmed… thought if I knew what to expect—especially from people who may have made the switch more recently—it might ease the transition, which is currently equal parts excitement and trepidation. Trying to get up to speed to compete this year, and the clock is ticking… no minutes to spare for adjusting to new equipment. Need to hit the ground running, or the ice gliding, or whatever it is.

Don't knock passing Preliminary. The Evil Step Behinds (as AgnesNitt calls them) do in a lot of less hardy souls. And you will totally get Pre-Bronze… keep after it… the Swing Dance is a blast. I'm not expecting to find a partner either, I just test with my coach. It would be more fun with a guy, but no male ice dancers in my area, so what do you do. Actually I think it's easier to test with a pro—that way you don't have TWO befuddled brains trying to keep straight what is going on.

Don't forget that mistakes only show you're learning something you didn't know how to do yesterday. And this sport is HARD!

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2017, 10:28:28 AM »
Thanks for making this thread! I'm currently working on the bronze dances (testing Hickory in March, hopefully) and am making the transition to dance boots and blades due to dance being my main focus now. I still have freestyle skates for moves in the field and skating around for fun with friends, but the plan is to skate mostly in my dance boots.

I ordered them on December 20 so they should be in any day now and can't wait to see how different the blades feel from standard freestyle blades. So far I'm glad to hear the transitions seem to be positive.

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2017, 08:06:07 PM »
Thanks for making this thread! I'm currently working on the bronze dances (testing Hickory in March, hopefully) and am making the transition to dance boots and blades due to dance being my main focus now. I still have freestyle skates for moves in the field and skating around for fun with friends, but the plan is to skate mostly in my dance boots.

I ordered them on December 20 so they should be in any day now and can't wait to see how different the blades feel from standard freestyle blades. So far I'm glad to hear the transitions seedem to be positive.

Can you please keep us posted (if you want you can even message me) about how you feel the dance boots compare to your freestyle? I, as I wrote above, have just switched to dance blades, but I kept my freestyle Silver Stars. They are still in great condition, fit me like a glove, and I do intend to keep them as long as possible. That said, I would like my next pair of boots to be dance boots. When we went to have my husband custom fitted at Harlick recently, we did not get dance boots per say, but got options that lend to easier dance moves like a cut back ankle and flex notch, in addition to the dance blades of course. I am going to ask my hubby if he notices much difference, but we are just starting out. I would love to hear a more experienced person's interpretation of a dance boot switch, and how much it actually benefits your skating. As I had mentioned in my earlier post, I have some friends who have done higher level dance testing in freestyle boots and blades, one just finally switched to the Edea dance and says she never realized how limited her toe pointing was in the old boots. Please share your experience as well when you make your switch....l would love to hear it,

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2017, 09:05:03 PM »
I've got Teri Dances on the way. It's so hard to pick between the different dance blades - do I get something less expensive but not as high end, or something really nice and really expensive? I guess we'll see. I'll post on here as well once my new boots come.

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2017, 09:22:37 AM »
I have switched to dance boots (risport dance) I have mixed feelings. I love love LOVE the toe point I get out of them. And TBH that's a deal breaker for me. I do wish mine were higher on the sides....I don't have the control to keep my ankles where I want them with the low cut sides.

I keep thinking I might go back to freestyle boots then cut the back down. One of my coaches did this on her skates. But hopefully I am years away from new boots. It is an option though, if necessary.

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2017, 12:10:26 PM »
I have switched to dance boots (risport dance) I have mixed feelings. I love love LOVE the toe point I get out of them. And TBH that's a deal breaker for me. I do wish mine were higher on the sides....I don't have the control to keep my ankles where I want them with the low cut sides.

That's my problem with dance boots.  Great toe point, but my ankles just seem to flop over no matter what I did.  I want to eventually try them again, but I may try a different brand. 

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2017, 05:12:35 AM »
That's my problem with dance boots.  Great toe point, but my ankles just seem to flop over no matter what I did.  I want to eventually try them again, but I may try a different brand.

Glad to know I'm not the only one!

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2017, 08:09:05 AM »
I tried Jackson dance boots, but after a few months the padding got broken in, and they felt too big. This was a long time ago and part of this may have been my skill level  I might try some of the new fitting skills I've learned since then to see if I can get them to fit better.
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Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2017, 09:55:55 PM »
I have switched to dance boots (risport dance) I have mixed feelings. I love love LOVE the toe point I get out of them. And TBH that's a deal breaker for me. I do wish mine were higher on the sides....I don't have the control to keep my ankles where I want them with the low cut sides.

I keep thinking I might go back to freestyle boots then cut the back down. One of my coaches did this on her skates. But hopefully I am years away from new boots. It is an option though, if necessary.

So, if one wanted to have the back of a boot cut out like that (and I imagine some padding of some sort placed at the cutback site to keep it from digging in) who would one go to for such a procedure?

Offline Resurfaced

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2017, 10:09:25 PM »
Well… first time ever on dance blades Friday. Here are my thoughts, for davincisop and anyone else whom it might help…

1) Have your coach with you the first time you step on the ice. The blades are WAY different, and you will need to approach things very slowly and carefully until you build up some confidence (unless, as Lutefisk says, you are on your intergalactic level dances).

2) Remember the difference between driving a car with power steering and one without? (I'm probably dating myself a little here.) Dance blades are total power steering. Coach said it was the difference between driving a Model T and a Ferrari. She is right.

3) These puppies turn like nobody's business. They are MADE for turning. Long curved edges, however… challenging. You will need to tweak your balance and checking to a degree you never thought possible. It's like skating on upright paper clips. SKINNY BLADES! Oh, my word. And you feel every Zamboni slush bump in the ice.

I was reasonably confident after 2 hours on Friday… broke down in sobs on Saturday and was ready to throw them into the river… things got marginally better on Sunday… and today actually ran a Willow Waltz pattern with music (admittedly QUITE poorly). Swing rolls are still scary. So is any footwork on the toes… have to completely re-learn where to plant my toepicks.

Verdict? I will love them—WHEN I learn how to drive them. Right now I'm a pony rider on a thoroughbred.

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2017, 05:19:05 AM »
So, if one wanted to have the back of a boot cut out like that (and I imagine some padding of some sort placed at the cutback site to keep it from digging in) who would one go to for such a procedure?

I've heard of people going to cobblers for it. You may not get padding through, my coach doesn't have it. Or you could.ask that done as part of an order modification...like when you order split widths, dance scallops, tongue hooks and the like. This is the route will go,since my next boots will be split widths anyway.

I bet your fitter would know and could advise you, if it's something you might do to your current or an older pair of boots. Who knows maybe you'll get lucky and they can even do it yourselves!

Offline davincisop

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2017, 11:20:36 AM »
I'm eager to get on mine. Anytime I have switched blades (whether it was size from going down in skate sizing or a completely new profile) I take it easy the first few sessions, focusing on pre-pre stuff. So the first day on those dance blades (when I finally get them, the boots were shipped two weeks ago at this point and the pro shop has told me three times now that they'll call me back and update me on where they're at with no updates... getting frustrated with them now because they've told me several different arrival dates with nothing happening) I plan to work on slow stroking, finding where the weight balance is, do some three turns near the wall if I need to just to feel the rocker and move my way up to doing prelim dances, then pre bronze, and then my bronze dances I'm currently on. :)

But I always have to take it slow with a new blade, I am a full time illustrator so I need my hands to make a living and I would rather go backwards in progress for a few sessions than overdo it and risk injury.

**UPDATE** Finally got in touch with someone at the shop I ordered at. Apparently someone was supposed to call me to let me know my boots are backordered. Dance boots won't be in for 8-10 weeks.... Hoping the guy can expedite that because he was just as surprised as I was.

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2017, 02:36:08 PM »
I know that dance boots and blades are supposed to make turns, toe point, etc. easier but I'm a little hesitant to try dance blades due to the shortness of the tails.  I have this mental picture of me falling backwards off the ends of those short blade tails.  Also I wonder how long it would take to adjust to the increased rocker compared to my trusty free style blades.  Also, I don't like what I'm hearing about the reduction of support by the cut down ice dance boots.   Am I making a mountain out of this or are these concerns real?   At the level which I skate,(preliminary dance), my current boots and blades seem fine.  I'm just starting to think ahead to when my boots wear out and I'll need to replace equipment.   

Second question:  how do synchro blades compare to dance blades?  Do they split the difference between free style and dance blades?  The synchro blades I've seen appear to have bigger picks than dance blades but what are the other differences?

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2017, 12:37:56 AM »
So, if one wanted to have the back of a boot cut out like that (and I imagine some padding of some sort placed at the cutback site to keep it from digging in) who would one go to for such a procedure?

You could contact the boot maker. Many of them do very high quality work on their own boots, at quite reasonable cost.

That's my problem with dance boots.  Great toe point, but my ankles just seem to flop over no matter what I did.

Can you analyze why they flop over? In other words, is it a loose fit, which can be changed by adding adhesive foam (e.g., moleskin) to the inside of the boot, or is the boot not stiff enough?

If it isn't stiff enough: try to tie the laces very, very tight. Finally (you won't like this, because it looks awful), you could wrap the top of the boot with duct tape, very tight, after you put on the boot, every time.

Some of my coaches swaid it should be possible to bend dance boots a little sideways by bending your ankle sideways. That lets you create deeper edges. I think the assumption is that you don't need much if any ankle support on dance boots - the only reason they are stiff at all is so you can precisely control the blade placement and orientation.

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2017, 04:20:04 AM »

Second question:  how do synchro blades compare to dance blades?  Do they split the difference between free style and dance blades?  The synchro blades I've seen appear to have bigger picks than dance blades but what are the other differences?

My vision Synchros were cut off visions, with the drag pick shaved down.  The length didn't bother me at all.  I go over the tails on my now normal length freestyle blades as often as I went over them on the short blades.  I think the first day it was nerve-wracking, but I soon forgot about the length difference.  The shaved down drag pick was much, much more annoying.  Many people have CorDances at my rink.  Toepick wise they look like cut off Aces.  Can't comment on the rocker though. A few have the Ultima Dance.  They also have normal toepicks.  I can't comment on the rockers though. I would love to try slim-line dance blades like the Eclipse that the OP has (or even the MK's), but the lack of a toepick scares the bejeezus out of me.  I'm too much of a free-style skater I guess.  Or a wimp. Probably the latter.

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2017, 04:30:03 AM »

Can you analyze why they flop over? In other words, is it a loose fit, which can be changed by adding adhesive foam (e.g., moleskin) to the inside of the boot, or is the boot not stiff enough?

If it isn't stiff enough: try to tie the laces very, very tight. Finally (you won't like this, because it looks awful), you could wrap the top of the boot with duct tape, very tight, after you put on the boot, every time.

Some of my coaches swaid it should be possible to bend dance boots a little sideways by bending your ankle sideways. That lets you create deeper edges. I think the assumption is that you don't need much if any ankle support on dance boots - the only reason they are stiff at all is so you can precisely control the blade placement and orientation.

My boots are plenty stiff enough (rated at 65, but I'm sure they're stiffer than that, whatever that number REALLY means anyway). Since they're so short I don't "use" the sides the way I did my old freestyle boots.  But even free boots are cut lower now than they were back when I bought those so.......

For me, It's all about user inefficiency; I'm sure it's a strength and fine-motor control issue.  At one point I was trying to do lots of ballet inspired exercises to strengthen my ankles (think relevés and various types of toe points and ankle circles using a theraband).  Had I stuck with it I might have made some headway on the ankle control thing.  I bet it also has to do with core strength and being able to simply control my body enough to support leaning the ankle that strong. 

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Re: Transitioning to dance blades… advice?
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2017, 04:37:58 PM »
My vision Synchros were cut off visions, with the drag pick shaved down.  The length didn't bother me at all.  I go over the tails on my now normal length freestyle blades as often as I went over them on the short blades.  I think the first day it was nerve-wracking, but I soon forgot about the length difference.  The shaved down drag pick was much, much more annoying.  Many people have CorDances at my rink.  Toepick wise they look like cut off Aces.  Can't comment on the rocker though. A few have the Ultima Dance.  They also have normal toepicks.  I can't comment on the rockers though. I would love to try slim-line dance blades like the Eclipse that the OP has (or even the MK's), but the lack of a toepick scares the bejeezus out of me.  I'm too much of a free-style skater I guess.  Or a wimp. Probably the latter.

Loops on your Vision Synchros did they come like that with the shaved down drag pick (like figure blades or just a little bit?) or had someone done that to them?  Curious.

To the OP I think any time you change blades there is an adjustment.  I usually give myself 6 weeks to get used to any new blade.

My original dance blades were basically a Majestic with the backs cut off - I LOVED them - could spin and do small jumps in them.  They were not slimline.

Then I got the MK dance - I never noticed the slimline honestly but always hated the picks...

Now I am in a blade called Dance 99 - a Wilson blade - VERY short and slimline... nice blade.

I would love to try the Synchro blades - some friends love the Ultima Synchro.

And i have a Teri Dance boot circa 2005 that I have never felt stable in... is it the lateral support?  Is it just that boots are more low-cut now than they were? Is it that I am older now and yes, probably weaker on so many levels?

Good discussion.