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Author Topic: A modest proposal for Social Ice Dance  (Read 1223 times)

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Offline Query

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A modest proposal for Social Ice Dance
« on: March 22, 2012, 09:30:11 PM »
I privately suggested to someone on this board that someone could start a new social ice dance activity, involving called mixer dance activities, following the pattern of off-ice Contra-Dance. You have facing lines (or circles) of male and female dancers, who advance with every set, following called dances. Use real music, possibly live. Makes more efficient use of the ice. Hockey skaters invited and recruited too, skate type unregulated. Recruit from the ballroom and social dance community too. Add social activities, like food. Do it Friday and Saturday evenings, to emphasize the social content.

You need a fairly balanced male/female ratio. Hard to do without heavy Hockey recruitment.

Mostly non-competitive. Don't harp too much on proper style and clothing. Everyone shares the cost of the caller, who teaches what is needed one hour before the formal dance. You don't need a coach, though coaches are welcome. Do everything you can to keep costs down.

(I've seen a roller skating rink do something a little bit similar.)

Alas, this isn't what most people in organizations like USFSA and ISU are after as their main skating activity. They want to test and compete in conventional USFSA and ISU events. But perhaps there are enough who would be interested.

I think you need a caller/organizer who is good and has a good reputation as a coach.

Offline Clarice

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Re: A modest proposal for Social Ice Dance
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2012, 03:15:52 AM »
This is pretty much what goes on at ice dance weekends.  My partner and I are planning to attend two this summer.  Skaters need not have a partner to attend, though.  In fact, it's considered bad form to dance with your partner the whole time.  The rotation is much more informal than you describe, but we are expected to change partners for each dance.

When you register, you indicate your level (i.e. which dances you know).  The organizers then prepare a program of dances that covers the abilities of the dancers attending.  This is posted in the rink, so you can see the order of dances.  Usually they try to alternate lower and higher level dances so nobody has to sit out too long.  If you don't know a dance, you just hang by the boards or step into the hockey box for that one.  If someone asks you to do a dance you don't know, you politely decline, explaining that you don't know that one yet.  If you know the steps, but not well enough to safely partner them yet, you can do the dance solo at the end of the line after all the couples.  There are often more ladies than men, so each dance is done twice to give more ladies a chance to skate.  Ladies who don't have a partner for a particular dance may also solo it at the end of the line if they want.

Sometimes we do "fun" activities like mixers much as you described - the men and ladies form concentric circles and skate around in opposite directions.  When the music stops, you partner with the person opposite you for the next dance.  There are a few "non-test" dances, like the Golden Skaters Waltz, that get done at social dance weekends, and sometimes we do variations, like skating a dance the opposite direction.  Some weekends include clinics, and most also include off-ice social activities.  There's always food!

Some places are lucky enough to have social dance sessions every week - I'm thinking of the Starlight Ice Dance Club in Minnesota - but most of us travel to ice dance weekends periodically because we don't have enough dancers at our rinks to support dedicated social dance sessions.  There's always a social dance on Sunday morning at Adult Nationals.  That was my first social dance experience - I had just started dance and could only partner the first few, but I still had a good time.

Oh - forgot to mention that for dance weekends you can usually register for all or part of it, so you can still participate even if you can't make the whole thing.  Obviously, if you had to travel any distance to get there, you'd want to stay for the entire weekend.

Apologies if you already know all this, but there might be others who have wondered about what happens at ice dance weekends.

Offline jjane45

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Re: A modest proposal for Social Ice Dance
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2012, 11:36:05 AM »
Interesting, thank you for sharing, Query and Clarice.

Offline nicklaszlo

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Re: A modest proposal for Social Ice Dance
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2012, 10:39:08 PM »
It used to be this way, in the 1920s.  Of course, there were many wealthy people who were very good at off-ice dancing back then.  There is a need for dances easy enough to learn in an hour that don't suck, and a need for money.

Offline Query

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Re: A modest proposal for Social Ice Dance
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 12:37:58 PM »
Alas, there might be one social Ice Dance weekend / year in the D.C. area. And most of the dancers are very high level. So it is not a good way to learn.

I like the idea of something that can be learned in an hour. Everything has to be easy to do.

But realistically, I don't think most people can start from nothing and do any kind of dancing at all in an hour, or people would get hurt. I think everyone would have to skated some.

I think the biggest key would be finding a good caller/teacher. Someone who understands something like Contra choreography, and who is a skating coach, who the given rink approves of.

Another issue is money. You can rent a room in a church or community center to do a small dance for $15-$25/hour. That keeps the monetary risk small to the organizers, if not many people show. Ice rinks are a lot more expensive.

But if we could get 5 or 6 people together ahead of time a rink will run a group lesson on a small patch of ice at fairly reasonable rates. That limits the caller/coaches further, to one of the staff group lesson teachers. Small patches of ice work badly with normal ice dance - but with proper choreography, a called dance can be localized. I'd have to check whether any of the available rinks could do it on a Friday or Saturday night.

Maybe I should talk to figure skating directors to see what they think, and whether they could suggest a coach with off-ice social dance choreography/calling experience... I wonder how hard this sort of thing is to organize.

Offline Skate@Delaware

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Re: A modest proposal for Social Ice Dance
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2012, 02:46:25 PM »
Alas, there might be one social Ice Dance weekend / year in the D.C. area. And most of the dancers are very high level. So it is not a good way to learn!
I know it's a hike for you, but the Skate Club of Wilmington (in Delaware) has social ice dances almost once a month (if not more often).  It's mostly attended by the adult skaters in the area-some high level, many not.

You might want to check it out: http://www.wilmicesk8.com/progdance.htm
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