This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

- sparkling

A fairly wide gap spans envisioning and actualization (actualization being the physical expression of a creative concept). You can't do a great job of actualization however without a healthy dose of envisioning. Hence, the first step of artistic skating is getting those old creative imagination juices flowing.

At its core the envisioning process in skating is similar to how it works for any other creative art. You browse other skaters for what you find appealing. You discern, summarize, invert, invent, extrapolate, generalize, and reframe. You add dynamics, texture, and personality. You expand your awareness and sensitivities. You learn to communicate feelings through movement. You find a muse. You learn to move souls.

At the same time though this imaginative pre-vision mental construct doesn't happen in a vacuum. You bracket ideas of what might be possible by feedback of your own expressiveness, a sense for dramatic "reveal," and by practice in building a story arc.

When it all comes together you sparkle.

Monday, November 12, 2012

- styled

You realize of course that what makes a skating program stylish has a lot more to do with the mode of execution than simply what elements your program contains. In fact I'd argue that any particular element in and of itself is not more stylish than any other element: a stag jump and a Bielman are moves that can both look either amazing or crappy, depending.

Okay so perhaps a Bielman has greater *potential* for stylish embellishment. This is because if you break the move down into quantum atoms, it has more moving parts.

First you lead into it with your pre-entry spin. Then calf up, hand drop, skate grasp. Then a pull upward, other hand grasp, more upward pull while spinning. Then spinning in final posture, added embellishment, and graceful exit. So watch this video.

There you go, what did you see? Of course, a Bielman. Now watch this one.

Okay, same element really, yes? But styled very very differently. Denise has something to say with her move, her approach is deliberate and gentle, she wants to use the move as a vehicle for expression on entry, spinup, and graceful exit.

She's not just doing a Bielman.

Friday, November 2, 2012

- principles

In an earlier post I mentioned how a skater learns to express her personality through the style she exhibits in her moves, her music, and her program. Style is neither a personality trait nor a mood though. Certainly you can have all varieties of moods layered atop all sort of personalities, and you may display (or suppress) this personality to various effect. Yet style somehow mediates this interaction.

How do you establish a style, and how do you develop a reputation of being a stylish skater? Well at its foundation, Style is the outward manifestation of big-C Culture. Sure, you know Culture when you see it -- it doesn't have to be Opera or anything particularly highbrow either (Goth is also a Culture). Not too surprisingly Culture is something that is "cultured" in the sense of being raised with patience, attention, and loving care from its birth as a conceptual meme. It's not something that drops from the sky and lands in your skate bag; you grow into a Culture slowly and with devotional intent.

How do you choose a flavor of Culture? Well at its base Culture is the outward manifestation of big P Principles. If you follow certain Principles of behavior (to either a more strict a more flexible adherence) then you will join the Culture along with the other folks who adhere to those same Principles.

Too abstract and philosophical for skating? Not at all. Principles with a fixed level of adherence drives Culture drives your Style on the ice. What this means dear is that when we watch you skate, we can infer your Principles. There are no sheathed souls in front of an audience.