Sunday, November 10, 2013

Forward Progress: I pass ISI Dance Level 1, come to grips with the Dutch Waltz and Canasta Tango and meet a competitive ice dance pair right here in Bowie (who knew?).

Yesterday I had my third ice dance lesson with Coach Kelly.  She wanted to see if I'd been goofing off during the intervening week.  I hadn't; I was lucky enough to get to a lightly populated public session mid-week and took the opportunity to practice the Dutch Waltz without other skaters getting in the way.  Instead of over-thinking things and worrying about beats per step, I concentrated on getting the dance to fit the  mandatory pattern on the rink.  I figured if I got the pattern were it was supposed to be on the ice, the beats would eventually take care of themselves.

So to answer her question about how things were going I asked her to critic my Dutch Waltz and proceeded to skate the dance and more or less placed all the lobes where they're supposed to be.  She was both pleased and surprised and asked if I wanted to get started on the Canasta Tango.  I told her that she should first test me for the two items that make up ISI's Dance level 1: two mandatory patterns, one of which is a Chasse sequence the other a Progressive sequence. Those can be seen here along with the forward swing roll pattern which is part of Dance level 2.  Bottom line: I passed the three patterns and Kelly said she'd make me a CD with music for the Dutch Waltz, Canasta Tango and Rhythm Blues.  In order to pass actual dances one must skate to the music.  The addition of music will no doubt be interesting and frustrating at the same time.  Interesting because adding music will make all this seem more like a dance.  Frustrating because the music will add another level of complexity to keep track of while skating the steps.   That said, we moved on to spend the last 10 minutes of lesson time looking at the Canasta Tango.

The Canasta Tango has fewer steps than the Dutch Waltz (14 vs 16) but is a much busier dance.  As with the Dutch Waltz, the dance uses one side of the rink and the dog bone shaped pattern (below) represents two passes of the dance.  This dance is "busier" because unlike the preceding Dutch Waltz which has only one skating element going on in each lobe of the dance (a progressive, a swing roll or a pair of forward edges), the Canasta Tango has several things going on in each lobe.  For example, lobe one has a progressive, a chasse step and a swing roll all compressed within that first lobe.  Additionally, this dance introduces dancers to the slide chasse (step 7) and the extra complication of an optional cross roll at step 14.  With Kelly, the cross roll will NOT be an option.

The Canasta Tango pattern is skated in reverse Kilian position; i.e. the lady is to the left of the man.

Today, diaristdaughter and I went to the afternoon public session.  It was crowded, and for the first hour one end of the rink was annoyingly coned off for a birthday party.  I was busy practicing back swing rolls when all of a sudden a pair of adult skaters came onto the ice and one glance was enough to tell me that they had to be dancers--they were simply too smooth to be anything else.  I skated over and made their acquaintance.  It turns out that they were a local team returning to competition after a three year hiatus.  They train elsewhere but like Bowie ice for practice since it's close to where they live.  I told them I hope to see them often.  Bowie needs more dancers.


  1. I like the canasta tango better than the dutch waltz. But now I'm working on rhythm blues and that step behind is super duper scary.

  2. I'm off work today (Veteran's Day here) and I hope to go to the noon to 2pm public. Generally not too crowded. Don't know if that will be the case with lots of people enjoying a day off. We shall see. Anyway, I plan to practice the CT.

    The dance team that I met yesterday commented that the Dutch Waltz was harder to skate well than the Canasta Tango because of the fact that not much is going on in each lobe. They also commiserated and said they couldn't understand why the inventor of the Rhythm Blues put those step behinds in a dance for beginners. I'm still trying to get the back step behind which is part of the Free-Style 2 step sequence under control...

  3. I've never had a coach that allowed option things to be optional. Like apparently one of the step behinds in the RBs is optional (of course, that is the one I can do...) not optional to my coach; all step behinds must be done.

    Conratulations on your pass!

    So far, my favorite dance is the Cha-Cha, and that's on the second level. I think it is easier than the first 3.

    1. Thanks Jessim! My coach is good at explaining things. I tend to be slow at getting some of the ideas firmly planted in my brain but she's patient--another good thing! Example: she explained some of the mechanics associated with back outside swing rolls the other day and I was, per usual, slow on the uptake. Today during the public that I just skated, I had the "ah ha" moment and those swing rolls clicked. My progress seems to follow a pattern of me figuring out in the privacy of an uncoached moment what the coach was trying to get me to do at the last lesson! Hopefully I won't teach myself a bunch of bad habits...

    2. Many people find the Canasta easier than the Dutch, think you will enjoy this dance :)

    3. That seems to be the trend from comments I hear, although I wonder if the later dances just "feel" easier due to the dancer's increased skill level as they go up the ladder.