Getting Started in Pairs and Ice Dancing


Pairs Skating

Resources
Pairs skating is skating performed in unison by partners, with the addition of daring and difficult overhead lifts, throw jumps and spins. The key to pairs skating is exact timing and unison. Whether the partners are together or apart, their movements should be synchronized with matching body lines, gestures and footwork.

Pairs skating begins at the pre-juvenile level and progresses through the senior level. It is also an option for adult skaters and can be provided as a track in a Basic Skills program. Depending on the competitive level, a team might compete just a free skate or a free skate and a short program.

Essential Skills

  • Ability to communicate and work well with others
  • Good listener
  • Willing to try new things
  • Strong
  • Good singles skater
  • Good skating skills (edges, turns, stroking, etc.)

Ice Dancing

Ice dancing is based on the different aspects of dance. The emphasis in ice dancing is on rhythm, interpretation of the music and precise steps. The strength of this discipline lies in its limitless creativity, choreography, its theatrical and innovative aspects, and as skating skills encompassing edging, position and power.

Ice dancing competitions begin at the pre--juvenile level and progress through the senior level. Competitive ice dancing events consist of pattern dances only, pattern dances and a free dance, or a short dance and a free dance, depending on the level. For adult skaters, ice dancing has its own adult and masters test tracks for pattern dance and free dance tests. Adult dance competitions have many events for all skill levels - beginning to advanced. The adult competitive events consist of pattern dances only or pattern dances and a free dance, depending on the level. Ice dancing can also be provided as a track in a Basic Skills program.

Ice dancing has gone through some changes over the past two years. The pattern dances had been known for many years as compulsory dances. Starting with the 2012 season, the juvenile through novice levels have one designated pattern dance for which the couples provide their own pattern dance music for qualifying competitions. The music, like that for the short dance and free dance, can have vocals. No longer are the same tunes played in rotation for all dances. U.S. Figure Skating hopes this will make the pattern dance events more fun for the competitors as well as for the fans. For the junior and senior levels, the short dance replaces the pattern dance and original dance events. The short dance reflects the character of selected dance rhythms or themes and contains required elements including a sequence(s) of a selected pattern dance.

Essential Skills

  • Ability to communicate and work well with others
  • Good listener
  • Willing to try new things
  • Strong
  • Musical/Ability to recognize and skate to a beat
  • Good skating skills (edges, turns, stroking, etc.)

Finding a Partner

The first step for someone to get involved in pairs and/or dance is to notify your head coach that you are interested in participating in one of these disciplines. A lot of partnerships are created through the networking of coaches, so it's important that your coach know of your interest. Even if your coach doesn't feel he or she can help you find a partner, it's important that he or she be aware if you are searching for a variety of reasons.

First, it may affect your ability to continue to work with your current coach. (You may have to move to skate with your new partner, or you may have to decrease your lessons in order to have time to add pair or dance sessions.). The more warning you can give your coach that things may be changing, the smoother the transition should be.

Second, coaches need to adhere to professional standards and a code of conduct that include the following statement: "No coach shall in any case solicit pupils of another coach, directly or indirectly, or through third parties." A coach who is seeking a partner for a current student must be sure to do so in the appropriate manner so as not to violate this standard. It is important that if your coach is helping in your search, he/she should first try to contact the coach of any skater with whom you are interested in setting up a tryout, prior to contacting the skater. If you are doing the search on your own, you should still try to contact the coach of any skater with whom you are interested in setting up a tryout, prior to contacting the skater, as a courtesy.

There are websites created specifically for those who are looking for partners in pairs or dance. One such website is www.icepartnersearch.com. In addition to listing biographies and contact information for people looking for partners all over the world, IcePartnerSearch provides information on upcoming tryouts as well as links to related websites. These are very important tools for those conducting a partner search.

Once you have found possible partners, it's important to set up tryouts. The tryouts should consist of on-ice and off-ice time. The on-ice time should be spent trying out various skills to see if you feel comfortable skating together. The off-ice meeting should be spent discussing details that could make or break the success of your partnership including short-term and long-term goals and plans for training and competing (location, coach(es), etc.).