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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

- showcase

We had the luck and good fortune of hosting the USFSA National Showcase here in Burbank this past weekend; my daughter and I watched a few hours on Saturday. For those of you without a sanctioned Showcase event in your part of town, allow me to describe it.  Primarily it's geared more towards "entertainment" skating rather than the elite athletic end of the sport. Not to say that the participants don't skate well: many of them do just fine on single Axels and all the lesser jumps and spins. But the focus is more on the artistic ends of costume and expressiveness.  They consist of duets, interpretive (we used to call this extemporaneous), light, dramatic and sometimes team events. Most of the events are skated under spotlights in an otherwise dark rink. So like I said, it's more for the "show."

The classification of a couple of the events however leave me a bit confused. In their wisdom USFSA has chosen to specify Light Entertainment as one type of skate, and Dramatic Entertainment as another. What's the difference? A very good question, as in most cases the routines had such a wide range of stylistic overlap that they could go either way. Many of the Dramatic skates were rather Light and entertaining, whereas several of the Light skates seemed to be ahhh, rather quieter and musing. I think drawing a firmer line between the two flavors would benefit both the skaters and the sport, so herewith I gently suggest some guidelines for your humble consideration.

A competition dress for Light Entertainment should be strikingly over the top. When you skate your entrance to center ice your dress should make me go Wow or bring me a smile. A couple of examples... on Saturday I had the pleasure of watching the one-eyed one-horned blind purple people eater, a full-body stretch suit with matching purple head hood, and yep... it looked exactly as described. Awesomeness. Also one gal skated in a patriotic red-white-and blue skirt with ruby red skate covers with sparklies that knocked my eyes out.

On the other hand a dress for Dramatic Entertainment should be as pretty as you can possibly imagine. It shouldn't have to be over the top sparkly, but should exhibit unique design with a pleasant blend of a particular shade, possibly with contrasting highlights. When you skate your entrance to center ice your dress should make me say Wow that's a pretty dress.

Light Entertainment has flashy accessories and showy makeup. On Saturday I saw a spitting image of Willie Wonka with the inventive hat, and a ghostly skeleton from Tim Burton's nightmare before Christmas.

Extensive makeup for Dramatic Entertainment however is probably unnecessary beyond what you would normally wear for your short program. I prefer pulled back hair (into a bun or braids) on your Dramatic.

Around half of the Light programs used a prop. I'm not sure that all props add value to their presentation, so think ahead as to whether you are using the prop just to "be in character" or whether it actually adds humor or spunk to your program. On Saturday a gal did the spoiled Veruca Salt from Wonka: at the end of her program she dropped into a metered box that switched its indicator from Good to Bad; both inventive and cool.

The only prop that should be allowed in Dramatic are chiffon dress sleeve extensions or Japanese hand-fans. Seriously.

I don't mind too much what you use for your Light Entertainment skate as long as it is well edited and mixed. Some skaters try to glue together different related pieces and the jog between the mix jars my attention. Please use an experienced editor from your rink rather than attempting this at home.

I'd prefer a classical music excerpt on a Dramatic skate. Please though avoid the common and hackneyed pieces that everybody skates too... plenty of other musical variety is out there if you search around a bit. Give me a pleasantly inventive choice.

Almost all of the Light Entertainment programs nowadays skate to popular or show music with lyrics. Generally I dislike watching the skater mouth the lyrics or sing along. One gal on Saturday not only sang but got into the full character of a performer, with arm and facial expressions to match her singing. And her performance was wonderful. So if you're going to sing, really /perform/ the song. The skate itself should be expressive and spot on the music. I like to see a nice jump or two just to prove that you can, but Light should be amusement, so do moves that entertain in appropriate concordance with your music and costume.

The program on Dramatic should highlight your particular strengths. Some gals have a unique spiral, some a fabulous spin or two, some a peerless aspect of how they can jump. I want your Dramatic program to be hypnotic. I don't expect the full athleticism of the elite skaters, but you'd best show me a variety of spins and jumps so that I know you take the sport seriously. And if you sing along with the lyrics I will cry, and not in the good sense.