Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Switching Gears

Yesterday Coach A. and I got together for the first time in the two weeks since my home ice shut down for annual maintenance.  We were at the Piney Orchard rink--which is much improved since last year when I skated here during our maintenance shut down.  Rumor has it that Piney is finally going to build its long promised second sheet of ice.  We shall see.

I always like to schedule a lesson late in a session to give myself some time to  warm up my aged legs.  After a few exploratory attempts at the dreaded  RFI Mohawk, I came to the conclusion that while I was no better than last time neither was I any worse.  Coach A., attempting to put a positive spin on things, tried to sell that as a good thing.  I countered by saying "let's park the Swing Dance for awhile and work on something different."

My basic take on life as an ice dancer is--why suck at just one pattern dance when with just the tiniest bit of extra effort on your part you can easily suck at two or more?  After reflecting on that thought for a moment we dusted off the Fiesta Tango.

The choreographers of pattern ice dances all seem to start off their productions calmly enough:  a couple of  outside edges, a progressive, etc., thus saving the buttocks clinching moments for the end pattern of the dance.  The FT is no different.  After the progressive, things heat up a tiny bit with a cross in front/tuck behind step sequence followed by a swing roll forward and then aft (which generates an edge sway) and then onto an outside edge which two musical beats later is followed by my fav maneuver--a RFI Mohawk.  The saving grace here is that the two edges of the FT's Mohawk only have to be held for one beat each rather than two as required by the Swing Dance.  I'm hoping that this one beat vs two beat edge thing will help mask my pityful incompetence from the judges...

Hot on the heels of that Mohawk is a back progressive (push! push! push!) followed by a left over right cross-in -front which leads to opening your right hip to enable one to step forward onto a right outside edge in preparation of either exiting or restarting the dance.

The description above outlines the 16 steps your feet should be doing.  But in order to capture the "essence" of the Tango, while your feet are doing their thing your upper body has its own assignment.  The dancing couple starts off the dance in reverse killian position (both skaters facing forward, lady to the left) but during that busy end pattern with that Mohawk, the back progressive thing and the cross-in-front step, your partner slides in front of you (ever so gracefully) going from reverse killian, briefly to killian, and then back to the reverse killian position in anticipation of the restart of the pattern.  Oh, did I mention that along with holding on to another skater you also need to be mindful of the music's time signature?  With luck, practice and from that intense concentration which is driven mostly by fear, you might actually get around the rink without maiming each other.

I can tell you one thing: there's dancing and then there's dancing at 20 mph on ice skates.   During what turned into a fairly crowded Free Style session (only got yelled at once by another coach while blocking his on-coming skater), my brain's processor was much too busy trying to remember what happens in the next couple of seconds beyond my current place in time to think much about anything else.  But don't take my word for it.  Instead watch this video of Kseniya and Oleg as they take you through the dance:

Didn't get enough?  Here's a video of K & O doing a killian to reverse killian drill while skating forward--not applicable to the FT but a good skill drill:


  1. George, no rest for the weary! In ice dance as soon as I would learn something, my coaches immediately would move on to something else! I enjoyed revisiting the Fiesta with you--and found that Kilian reverse Kilian video to be mesmerizing! Will have to try it!

  2. I hope I enjoy revisiting the Fiesta as well! Each of these dances introduces me to another demonic skill set!