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, May 7, 2016

- owning it

It seems to me that when the best skaters step on the ice they "own" the rink. Not in the sense of the folks who hire the staff and pay the electric bill, but rather in a more spiritual way; they are here to befriend the audience. When they glide out to center ice you can nearly feel them say Okay this place is mine, this show is mine, this audience belongs to me. I Own it.

Let me see if I can adequately describe the process of how an artist can get to this particular state of mind, as it's not at all obvious. Some of it relates to personality, some of it to experience, some of it to confidence, and some of it is a connection to a higher loving purpose. All of these are a bit interrelated and hinge on certain matters of the soul.

Initially this ability to own your existence starts from a basis of confidence you build up gradually as you move along learning skills. The more you practice the more you internalize elements to muscle memory, allowing your conscious mind to dwell on details of expression and audience responsiveness. When you don't have to tarry over the specifics of your body you can link more easily to your imagination.

Herein lies a sublime trait of the duality of practice: if you aim too high on the short run by always extending your physical learning then you never garner the confidence that you can do the job well. You stay too focused on your body. It's almost like you need to stay at the same physical level as long as bearable, in order to get supremely good at it and shift into a more imaginative mental mode. Perhaps a key to that sort of patience in the first place is an active enough imagination and connection to souls to maintain a parallel purpose. 

Once you have established a record of success it becomes easier to face an audience with confidence. Truly owning the relationship with the audience extends beyond this though: when skating for them you also share both your courage and your humility. This is what makes the performance humanizing and touching; there are no sheathed souls in front of an audience.

I'm not sure if the Ends justifies the Means; audience ownership is obviously a useful trait but I don't think folks set this as a specific goal of their skating program per se. Rather it evolves as an outgrowth of circumstances, a sense of "centeredness", perhaps survival of tragedy, lots and lots and lots of practice, and a certain intention to Serve. It's almost like skating is not the main objective here, it's just the activity whereby you accomplish something else more important.

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