Friday, May 2, 2008

Blades And Slippers

Many figure skating moves and techniques are based on ballet. Skaters who have a background in ballet should be able to transfer the positions and principles from ballet to skating. It is precisely this closeness to dance, and especially to ballet, that sets ice skating apart from any other sport. Although ballet and skating are similar, you have to think of them as two different worlds. There are many moves in skating that are similar to ballet, but you will have to break some ballet rules to get it right in skating.

The skater needs a strong core body to connect the upper and lower body for controlled powerful movements. He must be able to keep his shoulders over his hips throughout jumps, spins, footwork and edges. He must also be able to check his shoulders against his hips. Thus it is to the skater’s benefit to become aware of the feeling of twisting in the middle of the torso, and also the feeling of staying square.

Figure skating and ballet require balance, strength in the legs, and ankle strength. They both use the same muscles, so ballet really helps figure skaters. Flexibility, balance, body alignment/posture, extension, and strength are just another reason to incorporate ballet to your figure skating. Many of the poses in skating are found in ballet, for instance arabesque, leaps, Rond de Jambe, PliƩ, etc. Ballet teaches the skater how to move the pelvis without losing balance or disconnecting the center in footwork sequences, including pirouette turns, jumps and leaps across the floor.

The entire foundation of ballet is poise and posture gained through core strength, making it the best way to learn how to present oneself and become graceful and elegant on the ice. Ballet helps with beauty and grace. Ballet dancers have a natural elegance in the way they carry themselves. The way their legs, back, arms, hands, feet, shoulders, and neck are aligned, always seems to have that flair grace. They have great posture.

Figure skating is ballet on ice. It can be one of the off ice training you implement to your skating for form and balance. Ballet uses body, mind and expression and while on the ice you have to express yourself as well. With ballet, you have a broader sense of how to perform, and to interpret and express your music as you tell your story or convey your emotion through the connecting steps of the program. This is what make the difference between a program that is all jumps with a lot of crossovers or stroking between the jumps, and a program that is interesting, artistic and pleasant to watch. Just as a dancer sweeps you away with her grace and flow and hides her/his sweat with a flourish, a skater will prepare you for a delicate show of athleticism and artistry, and gentle arabesques, and they’ll soar and spin in toe loops and flips and triple-Axel jumps.

The following is a brief summary of common terms and positions with which skaters should be familiar.

Rond de Jambe – A rotary movement of the leg.
It can be done in a number of ways, such as on the
floor with knee straight, or in air with a circular
rotation of the knee from bent to straight.

PliĆ© – A bending of the knees with hips, legs, and
feet turned outward.

Arabesque – A position in which the dancer
stands on one leg with the other leg extended in a
straight line to the rear. The position of the arms
and the height of the raised leg may vary.
There are certain set positions in ballet for the
arms and particularly for the feet which give the
ballet dancer a particularly pleasing aspect as well
as providing a starting point for particular moves
and interchanges.
Skaters who have a background in ballet
should be able to transfer the positions and
principles from ballet to skating.

Foot Positions
There are five basic ballet foot positions that
are common to all teaching methods.
The feet point either in opposing directions either
in a straight line, or offset with one foot in front of
the other.

1 comment:

Ice Mom said...

Great post! I'm going to sign up Ice Girl for ballet lessons in the fall. She has the Ballet 101 DVDs, but I don't think they're in-depth enough.

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