Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ice Dance - It's the Shizzle

Of the four figure skating disciplines (ladies, men, pairs, ice dance), dance has become my favorite, and I remember the exact moment I fell in love with it. The year was 1999, and I was watching the U.S. National Championships Exhibition on TV. The junior ice dance champions, Jamie Silverstein and Justin Pekarek, appeared on my screen, and the rest is history. Here's the program that totally captivated me:

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I was awed by their fluid movement, the way they interpreted Sting's music, and the spark in every step they took. They truly were "dancing" on ice. Unfortunately, Jamie and Justin's career was a brief one, but the talented young team left a lasting impression on me. Ice dance in the U.S. was an afterthought at the time, but I started paying much more attention to it. The next season, another young couple wowed me during the Nationals exhibition - Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. This team became the most successful American dance team of all time and inspired a surge of popularity in ice dance in the U.S.

Many more people have jumped on the dance bandwagon in recent years, but I'd like to see the discipline gain even more attention. With Meryl Davis and Charlie White winning the World Championship last season, the first for an American team, the media should put a bigger spotlight on dance. I know the single skaters will always get more publicity, but people are missing out if they don't follow dance. Ice dance programs have more depth, more connection to the music, more entertaining costumes. So many different themes are explored. The lack of jumps doesn't make the disclipline less exciting; it gives the skaters more time to relate to the music and to each other.

If you've ignored ice dance in the past, I encourage you to give it a look. With the talent and depth in the U.S. right now, Nationals is going to be an intense battle. I'll leave you with another gem of a performance, one that left me speechless at 2008 Nationals - Davis & White's "Eleanor Rigby" free dance:

 

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