***taking a few weeks off before the padawans go back to school so am reposting some earlier columns, enjoy!
Artistic, showcase and interpretive skating are all terms peppering the figure skating landscape these days. It is one of the newest forms of figure skating. Here, the skater can give full rein to his or her creative and artistic talents. Many people, including judges, tell me this is where adult figure skaters shine. Our life experience and emotional maturity always give us the edge over younger figure skaters when it comes to understanding and expressing the nuances of the program or music.
Definitions seem to vary from country to country. Canada has one of the strictest definitions and seems to be the only country with an actual test structure for interpretive skating tests. Canadian figure skaters of all ages can participate in competitive interpretive skating events that are based on their test level. At the Canadian Adult Figure Skating Championships, a modified Cumulative Point Calculation (CPC) system is used. Only the program components mark is used to determine placing and the weighting of the elements is different than for free skating or dance.
In Canada, the interpretive skating program, as the name suggests, is the skater’s movement expressing in physical aesthetic form the drives and desires s/he hears in the music. Skate Canada says that figure skaters should be rewarded for moving beyond the known themes in the musical composition to explore more original and personal concepts. You are free to explore designs in abstract movement suggested by selected sound patterns. Although creative movement usually has a theme, it is not acting out a story line. There are no required elements, you are free to include as many spins and jumps as you want, but credit is given based on how they reflect the chosen theme, not for their technical difficulty. You can see how this event would lend itself to a more mature skater, perhaps more intimately acquainted with the blues (and perhaps their best double axel is behind them). Canadian figure skaters also have the longest program times; the length must be between two and three minutes.
Stars and Stripes!
In the United States, there is no test structure supporting interpretive skating programs, often referred to as showcase events, but there are many more sub-categories for competition. In showcase events, the judges evaluate the theatrical elements, like energy, poise, acting, pantomime, eye contact, choreography, form/extension and the use of props and ice. The rules for showcase state that skating must be the major element of the performance and be of sufficient quality. Unintended falls, poorly executed skating elements are penalized. However, only the artistic impression mark of the 6.0 judging system will be used, so technical skating skills and jump difficulty will not be rewarded.
Improv on Ice
Some competitions also have improvisation categories as well. Just to add to the confusion, these are often referred to as Interpretive Events. Having done improvisation events, I have to say they are scary, but can be a lot of fun. The basic principle is that you hear the music twice and then you have to create a program to the music the next time you hear it, which will be on the ice in front of the judges and spectators. Though there can be the temptation to just make your current free style program fit the music, this event challenges you to use the repertoire of moves you have learned in new and creative ways. It can be a particular challenge when you either absolutely hate or are completely uninspired by the music you are hearing.
Next week, I will share the creative process that my coach and I used to create last year’s artistic program. This week’s videographic treat is of an anonymous American skater’s interpretive/artistic competitive program. I’m not a big proponent of props, but she uses hers exceptionally well. Her expression of the nuances of the music, as well as her creative and original movement makes this program a real winner. If you know who she is, please let me know!
References: Skate Canada Interpretive Skating Test Standards Manual and the 2012 Competition Announcement for the New York Showcase Competition.