What Is Ice Dance In Figure Skating?

What Is Ice Dance in Figure Skating

Though most people are generally familiar with the sport of figure skating, they likely do not know exactly what ice dancing is. Ice dancing is a unique form of figure skating that has its own style, history, and composition format. Read on to learn all about ice dance and its history as a form of figure skating.

How Does Ice Dance Work In Figure Skating?

In ice dancing, skaters don’t do jumps and spins but instead focus mostly on step sequences, dance patterns, music interpretation, and choreography. On top of that, ice dancing is only done in pairs and cannot be performed by a single person. Also, ice dancers don’t aim for the throw jumps, overhead lifts, and twist lifts that are standard in pairs figure skating but instead aim for synchronized body movements and footwork. For these reasons, ice dancing is often described as ballroom dancing but on ice.

Is Ice Dance a Part of Figure Skating?

Even though it is different from both singles and pairs figure skating, ice dance is, in fact, a formal discipline of figure skating. The biggest defining factor of ice dancing is that skaters are not allowed to separate at more than two arms’ length. Rather than occasionally launching from one another (like in pairs) or putting on an individual show (like in singles), the job of ice dancers is to dance in sync and follow the rhythm of the song.

What Does an Ice Dance Competition Look Like?

The ice dance competition has two segments, a rhythm dance and a free dance. When performing the rhythm dance, skaters of all junior and senior competitions have to perform the required elements such as lifts, step sequences, and dance patterns performed to a chosen music rhythm. It should also include a six-second lift and a set of twizzles.

The overall duration of the rhythm dance should be exactly two minutes and fifty seconds. The theme of the rhythm dance is determined by ISU before the start of each ice dancing season and can range from classical waltz to street dance.

The free dance, similar to the rhythm dance, requires teams in junior and senior competitions to perform step sequences, lifts, and a selection of difficult skating skills. However, the major idea of this dance is to create an entertaining performance that should look easy and effortless despite its difficulty. It also requires skaters to show creativity and synergy. The free dance duration should be three and a half minutes for juniors and four minutes for senior ice dancers.

History of Ice Dance Competition

Ice dance was not initially recognized as a separate championship discipline but first entered a World Figure Skating Championship in 1952. Over two decades later, in 1976, it was then officially added to Olympic competition. Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexandr Gorshkov were the first couple to win gold for their performance in the ice dance category during the 1976 Olympic Games. This began a long history of Russian dominance in Olympic ice dance.

In 2010, the format of ice dance changed for all senior-level competitions. Before then, there were three segments of ice dance competitions that all held equal weight: the compulsory dance, the original dance, and the free dance. However, for the 2010-11 skating season, the rules were changed so that ice dance was shortened to only two segments, the free dance and the short dance (which was renamed “the rhythm dance” in 2018).