Theater on Ice

TOI-3I’m intrigued by Theater On Ice (TOI).  I heard about it several years ago via Facebook and it appealed to me.  While I have participated in dance shows on stage, I had never seen anything like this and it always sounded like a lot of fun.  In Canada, we don’t have TOI competitions and apart from Patin Libre , we have no professional TOI groups either.  The closest we come are figure skating club’s year end shows; these can be major productions, especially in smaller communities where pretty much the whole town gets involved.  So, this week, I did a bit of research this week to learn more and I discovered how popular this event is in US and Europe.  And yes, there are adult Theater on Ice events!

Theater On Ice is a form of competitive figure skating which combines the grace of ice skating with the excitement of theater and dance.  Teams consist of between 8 and 30 skaters and solo skating is discouraged, although it is permitted in limited amounts if it enhances the overall telling of the story.  The programs are judged on the basis of a “technique of performance” and “artistic” marks.  There are many club TOI teams and competitions around the in the US.  It seems to me like it is a cross between Showcase and Synchro events.  

As in a dance performance, the production must be meaningful and use symbolism to allow the audience to feel emotions through simple suggestive elements.  Theater On Ice skaters must express imagination and give shape to abstract images thanks to body gesture.  

As in a synchro competition, two competitive programs may be skated: the choreographic exercise and the long program.

Choreographic Exercise is based on three elements:  theme, choreographic process, and type of gesture or movement.  No scenery or props are allowed.  Natural or minimal make-up is required and hair must be worn pulled back or in a bun and secured with plain barrettes.  Team members must wear all plain black – including legs and long sleeves on arms.  In fact, any violation of this dress code will be a 0.1 deduction.

The Free Skate performance should be original, and express a theme, emotion or story.  Like in Showcase events, vocal music is allowed and teams may use costumes, props and even scenery to help tell their stories.

There is also a professional Theater on Ice company as well, see below for a video of a work created by Ice Theater of New York. 

Founded in 1984 by Moira North, Ice Theatre is the nation’s first non-profit ice dancing ensemble to be awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts.    Modeled as a dance company, Ice Theatre has trained a professional ensemble of skaters and built a critically acclaimed repertory of performance pieces that have been presented both nationally and internationally. The enormously talented cast of Ice Theatre is comprised of national and international champions.   See the video below for an example of their work.

Do you skate in Theater On Ice?  Send us a video or picture of your team and tell us how often you practice, and if you are in an adult or mixed team.

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Best Ever Willow Waltz (Ice Dance).

Jerry Boyer and 11-year-old Rachelle show us age is no barrier when it comes to having a great time ice dancing.    

I’ll let Jerry explain:    ”The competition event was called “Generation Gap”…there had to be 20 yrs difference between the skaters. Smile, the “gap” was 59 yrs. Not many youngsters would wanna skate with a 70 yr old(?). Rachelle wanted to do it and her dance coach thot it would be neat…so we did. Thanks again… learning as an adult takes time, patience and determination, but it is soo much FUN!!!”

Right you are Jerry!

BTW, the Willow Waltz is what is referred to as a “Pattern Dance” in ice dancing.  The steps are fixed and anywhere in the world you will always skate the same steps.

I was a kid skater so I really don’t remember passing the willow….yeah I’m that old,  lol.    My favorite dances are Argentine Tango, Starlight Waltz, Austrian Waltz and Tango Romantica.

 What is your favorite pattern dance?  Why do you like it?



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Circle of (Figure Skating) Life

JulianneThis past Saturday evening I attended the Quebec Summer Championships, although there were several events happening concurrently I chose to watch the Senior Men’s, Ladies and Pairs short programmes as I train or have trained with several of the competitors.

The funny thing is I can remember when they were back in juvenile and pre-novice…. such is the lot of the adult figure skater who trains with young competitive ice skaters. When you first meet them, they may be a tad cocky and perhaps a bit perplexed by the old lady who is struggling with elements that come to them so easily. They sometimes are constantly underfoot and at times rather arrogant, especially if they are winning their events hand over foot due to unlimited natural talent.

But over time reality sets in…an element that continually gives them trouble, a season-ending injury…boyfriend woes…  you end up being den mother to a gaggle of teens who you see at their best and sometimes, at their worst moments.

All of a sudden they are young adults, ready to leave the “ice skating nest”. They are starting university and can’t devote the time needed to continue as high level competitors, or they begin their coaching career or decide it’s time to move on to new things…like marriage and (gasp!) children of their own!

Back to Saturday night.

Julianne Seguin, who I had the privilege of training with  when she was an energetic pre-novice, skated a strong short program, enough to win the event. As a youngster, she stood out as a quiet, courteous young lady who gave 100% effort every minute she was on the ice. What also made her unique was that she clearly loved every minute of it, it was rare to see her without a huge smile on her face and her energy was, and still is, infectious!

I was fortunate to be present for some of her figure skating milestones, landing her first double axel and all the triples that followed in rapid order afterwards. Her first pairs tryouts, landing throw jumps like she’d been doing them all her life…and that was just the first week! I’m sure her Mom, coach and partner will tell you she has her down days but when she’s in her natural environment, the ice, she makes you feel like anything is possible!

A few years ago she changed training locations and I do miss her, but after not seeing her for two years it’s good to know that she’s still loving what she does. Because she always reminds me of how much I love figure skating and because she is relentless in her pursuit of excellence, I hereby declare Julianne an honorary adult ice skater and is International Adult Figure Skating skater of the month for August 2014!

Do you skate with an inspirational youngster or teen? Be sure you let them know how awesome they are and then share their awesomeness with us!

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Rest Break

sleepingbabyjpgMatte Downey is a good friend and fellow writer who always somehow manages to put into words those random thoughts   circling around in my head.   When I read her weekly blog,  I realized I needed to take more than one week off from my writing and researching activities.

So in addition to taking a two week break from ice skating, I’m taking the same amount of time off from my paid employment as well as writing and researching.   I work from home and I’m sure anyone who works from home can attest to how very easy it is to respond to work related issues when they crop up and how  much harder it is to maintain a work-life balance when your office is in your own home.

Admittedly it will be hard not to figure skate though but I’m sure my muscles and joints will appreciate the swimming, biking and hiking I hope to enjoy.

So I will take Matte’s advice:

“So how do I enter into rest? Essentially, rest is the ability to lay down my burdens. Burdens can take many forms: all the things that call out for my attention and demand my concerted effort, all those problems which take up brain space by causing me to always be searching for creative and effective solutions, or all those nagging past mistakes which make me overly cautious or hesitant or self-critical. These are some of the burdens which keep me from rest.

But really, rest is possible anywhere, anytime. I know that for me, rest is closely tied to wonder and beauty, because it is in the place of simple appreciation, in expressions of childlike delight and surprise, and in stunned or sweet silence, that I am my most trusting. I am at rest when I stare at the clouds and go, “Wow!” I am at rest when I run along a beach and squeal with delight as the ocean licks at my toes. I am at rest when I notice a new flower has lifted its fragile head to the sun. I am at rest when I see my cat stretching and stop whatever I am doing to touch her soft fur. In these moments, I am alive. I am so overcome by the goodness around me that I join with the Creator and take time to simply enjoy it.

May my day be filled with many restful moments today. Moments when I look around me, listen carefully, breathe deeply, and enjoy the gift of being alive.

Read Full Article

Now go get some rest!

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Creating an Adult Ice Skating Program


Me and my feet, on a Thai beach January 2013.

I’m taking two weeks off from writing to rest and recharge my creative batteries.   I’m anticipating a very busy autumn researching and writing my upcoming book, Skating in the Arena of Life….How to Achieve All Your Goals. Anytime, Anywhere.

While I’m off, thought I’d share a great article written by fellow adult figure skating competitor Fiona McQuarrie on creating a free style or interpretive ice skating program.

I totally agree with everything she wrote.   I would also add that add far as music choice is concerned, I always vet my choices with my choreographer as well since it has to be something that she can listen to over and ever again as well as inspire her creativity.

What do you think?   What advice would you give to an adult ice skater working on their first ever program?

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Best Ever Mockumentary on Adult Figure Skating…

Scary thing is…..I do come dangerously close to eating, sleeping and breathing figure skating!
Does anyone know who made this?   Love it!! Can’t wait for the next installment!
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Figure Skating in the Arena of Life…

This is what it will look like!

After at least six months of deliberation — OK it’s longer than that, but that’s all I’m willing to admit publicly — I heretofore and with great ado, announce that I’ve embarked on a second book project.

Since it was published, almost two years ago, many of my readers have encouraged me by purchasing my first endeavor, a 50 page online book, entitled:  “Figure Skating?????  At Your Age????  An Introduction and Encouragement for the Hesitant Figure Skater of a “Certain” Age.”

I love writing and knew when I published my online book that I wanted to write many more.  I have spent considerable time thinking about and discussing what content should go in the second one as well as whom it should be aimed at.

I thought that perhaps a book for more advanced adult skaters dealing with things like competing at Nationals, injury management, etc. would be a worthwhile project.  It would have probably been an online book, and while it would have been fun to write, it more than likely would not have reached a wide audience or become a best seller.

Usually by the time an adult figure skater reaches this stage, he or she probably has a coach and access to most of this information.  There is also no possible way a book can help you master ice skating either.  You need a qualified figure skating coach to look at and correct you in real time… and then stay on your case until you get it right consistently.

I’m preaching to the choir here, but I think we can all agree that ice skating is life and many lessons learned on the ice are metaphors for life lessons.

For example:

Conquering your nerves and anxiety on a test or competitive situation gives you the wherewithal to control your nerves when making an important corporate presentation or going for a job interview.

Accepting that you don’t have the body of an airbrushed and photo-shopped model and going out on the ice and giving it your all in a sparkly lycra dress.

And, of course, the one thing we do a lot of every time we step on the ice: fall down!  As one of my former coaches used to say, ”You don’t start to learn until you start to fall”.  As a teenager, I had no idea how prophetic these words were to be in my life.

As skaters, we know this well.  I would like to share these life lessons with women in their 50’s who want to review and re-evaluate their life goals.  I want to give them strategies and encouragement to tackle those things that keep them up at night.  It would also show how participating in sport or any activity you love can give you the confidence and wisdom to do this.

There I’ve said it and now that I’ve put it out there I’m expecting you, my dear readers to keep me accountable to complete this project.

Figure Skating is Life… let’s tell the world!

What life lesson did you learn in skating?  How could you use your experience to encourage a non figure skating friend?

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Battling Your Figure Skating Demons

As adult ice skaters, we often have situations playing out in our non- ice skating lives that follow us to the rink.  In this  must-watch video,  elite US figure skaters share what their biggest figure skating challenges have been.    

Could you have ever guessed what Meryl Davis’ biggest challenge was?

Some of the challenges are heart-breaking such as death of a loved one, others are are testimony to just how tough figure skaters are,  such as coming back from a serious injury.    Enjoy and be inspired!   What has been your biggest figure skating challenge?

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Is Figure Skating A Real Sport?


Some  suggest figure skating is not a sport. Former Olympian Marie-France Dubreuil and NHLer Mathieu Dandenault come to its defense in this radio interview earlier this year.

Listen to Radio Noon interview 

Matthieu is very complimentary  towards figure skaters!

Here’s a video of Marie France and Mathieu

One of my favorite pro hockey players to watch is the Montreal Canadien’s  PK Subban…he’s got to be one of the most agile and athletic players I have ever seen,  I’m sure he could easily master a Level 4 footwork sequence.

Of course we all know ice skating is a real sport, no argument there.    Which pro hockey player do you think could easily make the (waltz) jump from hockey to figure skating?

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Getting It!


Cindy’s Got Glide!

Sometimes life’s like a roller coaster ride… along slow uphill slog and then… WHEEEEeeeeee!!!

For many of us adult ice skaters, figure skating is life, and the above analogy works equally well.  For example, you struggle with an element for the longest time (back spin anyone?), you are on the verge of giving up and then something just clicks –, and… you’ve got it!!  What a great feeling!

As a coach, the feeling of satisfaction I get when one of my students has a breakthrough like this is almost as good as when I finally “get it” in my own skating.  On Tuesday nights, I teach two different groups of beginners.  In my first group, I have two adults and in my second group, three 7 and 8 year-old boys.

In the past few weeks, I have seen the light go on for all of my students, as they master the basics of figure skating.

Just by looking at his expression, you would have thought he had hit the ball out of the park, when little Roy made the connection between making snow and stopping.  Last week, he made the connection between swinging a bat in T-Ball and initiating the rotation of a two-foot spin.

When Joachim, my Energizer Bunny, learned to glide on two feet… going really fast — and without falling down.  It was Christmas in June!

When soft-spoken Bhu “got” swizzles, there was no stopping him and they had to be bigger and faster than anyone else’s swizzles!

Cecile is one of my adult beginners.  She has a gymnastics background and breezed through all the elements of stage one… except for backwards skating.  She couldn’t figure out how to push off her inside edges to propel herself backwards.  Until, one day between the two of us, we figured out a little exercise that helped her to get the feeling of bend and stretch.  She left that day with a mission to find as much public ice as possible, so that she could master this skill as fast as possible!

Cindy is my other adult beginner; she struggled for at least 4 weeks without success to glide on the ice (as opposed to just walking on the ice).  Her kids are both in the group right next to us, on the “Mini” (little kids introductory) session and Cindy stoically accepted the reality that they were advancing faster than her.

I can see a lot of myself in Cindy; when I am trying to master a particular skill, sometimes I just need to go off in a quiet corner and play with it a bit.  I had left her to her own devices and was working with another skater.  Well, when I looked over to make sure she was OK, there she was, slowly moving forward and actually gliding a little on each foot!  VICTORY!!

She was so thrilled that she just wanted to bask in the moment.  At her request, I let her go back to her quiet corner and just have her moment… and contentedly glide along on each foot.  The following week, Cindy mastered gliding on two feet, rudimentary stopping and began skating backwards.

Our Adult Figure Skater of the Month for June is none other than — drum roll please –   Cindy!!

What is your favorite “Got It!” moment as an adult ice skater.  We want to hear about it!

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