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.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

- sensitive choreo

I had some equivocal thoughts after interviewing Kate about choreo I'd like to share and explore. First, the importance of a choreograhper. I suppose you could plan your program's choreo by watching other skaters and their videos, and even by reading books on the topic. There's nothing though like having a choreographer skate alongside to help you at the rink. Your self-impressions of how you look when skating are likely inaccurate; the choreographer can make real-time demonstrations and corrections. An experienced choreographer will also know what is best for you as a skater: she knows the limits of your capabilities and where you might variously run into trouble. Your choreographer likely knows all the ins and outs of IJS scoring. If you are competitive she can impel you to the limits of your skills (adapted to your body type) to maximize your scores.

I asked Kate how she felt about "ethnic" programs; she said they were fine if the skater has the correct style to match what the program requires for handling the music. She did mention an ethnic program obligates the choreographer to show cultural sensitivity: you have to be thoughtful and avoid being disrespectful by falling into stereotypical portrayals.

I also inquired about the pros and cons of IJS scoring compared to 6.0. She felt IJS presents a two-edged sword: on one hand (due to its tight requirements) you need a choreographer to hep you cover everything while still remaining stylish. In other words, the strictures of IJS make it much more difficult to arrive at beautiful choreography just by yourself. The back edge of the sword however is IJS ensnares many skaters and their coaches where the pressures of its scoring inflicts moves upon a skater that are legitimately beyond her capabilities.

Our conversations also got me thinking about the appropriateness of seductive skating across various age groups. No matter what I say many readers will find it a controversial, sensitive, and high-anxiety issue. Nevertheless it merits exploration to clear the air, and as usual YMMV.

I'm neither categorically for nor against seductive skating. It all depends, and I can never tell ahead of time whether this is the right thing for you as a skater. When I am watching a routine I know about halfway through however whether or not your seductiveness strikes the right tone or if it assaults my sensibilities.

To start with what's easy, let's chat about the dress. I don't mind something slightly revealing (if you are twelve or older) but it shouldn't provoke me to be staring at your body more than I am watching your skating. In other words /suggested/ sexiness is better than "turning me on." I am here to watch you skate, not to gawk at your beauty. Specific design details beyond that are difficult, as it varies for each person: something that's too revealing for one skater may be fine for another.

Next, your attitude. Overtly "coming on" to me is never appropriate. Being flirty is fine in moderation: you can wink and wave and blow me a kiss, no problem. How I judge your wiggling about depends a lot upon your age: older skaters can get away with all sorts of shenanigans as long as it's "tongue in cheek" and not overdone. Younger skaters look wrong when they try to move sexily: I prefer the younger skaters strive for cuteness in a Shirley Temple sort of fashion. Where's the age dividing line? I haven't a clue: some skaters mature faster than others. Hint, it's somewhere between 11 and 16.

Trying to look sexy comes across as false when you're in that awkward teen age danger-zone where you've outgrown being cutesy. Again this isn't a specific age but rather when you're old enough to be thinking about it but not old enough to actually know what it's about (enough said). If this is you then please don't try to be seductive on the ice. You can still wink and wave and blow me a kiss though, no problem.

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