No one’s ever claimed it’s easy to dance on pointe–or even in tap shoes or ballroom heels–but can you imagine trying to be graceful and emotive with ice picks attached to your feet? By now you’ve heard that Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White took home the gold medal in ice dancing–the first gold-medal win in US history. (US team members Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished in eighth, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani finished ninth.) So where do ice skating and dancing overlap?
Just like many professional dancers, ice skaters engage in yoga, Pilates and strength-training off-ice to amp up their on-ice game. Trust is a huge part of ice dancing, just as it is with any ballet pas de deux–in fact, some of the lifts on the ice could be considered a bit more high-risk, since they all occur while the supporting partner is balanced on a few millimeters’ worth of blade. (Costumes cost just as much, too: Skating dresses are all handmade to order, and they can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars apiece.)
Choreographers have taken note of the similarities between the two artforms and recently started to bridge the gap. Former New York City Ballet principal and artistic director of Miami City Ballet Edward Villella created Reveries for the Ice Theatre of New York last fall, and “Dancing with the Stars” superstar Derek Hough has been choreographing routines for Davis and White.
Stay tuned for the results of the ladies’ figure skating Olympic competition: They’ll be competing over the next few days.
Photo by Michael Kass, courtesy of U.S. Figure Skating Media Relations