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Choreographing an
Artistic Skating Program

The Importance of a Free Skating Program's Choreography
      Any skating program that only contains the "tricks" without connecting steps and moves is quite noticeable when compared to a well balanced program that integrates the musical elements and the physical activities of the skater(s) presentation. Not only does the audience appreciate the program more, but the judges will score the effort with higher marks for the superior presentation over their ability to perform multi-revolution jumps.

     Choreographing a figure skating routine takes a lot of preparation and time to complete. Not only must you know the rules of your competition, you must also be creative in imagining an appropriate and beautiful routine. A few tips can help you successfully choreograph a figure skating routine.

      A skater should not use their competitive free skating program when entering artistic events. The program should be a new choreographic venture that develops and emphasizes the skater's ability to communicate with the audience without striving to achieve the highest technical levels that are factors in increasing the base value of jumps, spins, and footwork sequences.

      Important considerations for athletes, coaches, trainers, and parents:
  • Understand the rules and requirements for each level of artistic event . Double check the rules that will apply after Sept. 1 each year for that season. These rules are now available on line at National Showcase Rules and Guidelines (updated and final 11/2/10) (PDF). Figure skating routines must adhere to a specific time limit for technical routines and artistic programs. Check non-qualifying open competition announcements for required movements for the event's rules and required/prohibited elements. Also refer to Showcase Skater's Guide
  • Classical music still is a traditional and widely accepted choice for most dramatic routines.  Many skaters prefer music from broadway stage shows and blockbuster Hollywood  movies for light entertainment events.  Match the skater's age and skating skills to the choice of music.  Routines for should utilize music that reflects the skater's personality and conforms to the event rules concerning vocal or non vocal musical selections.   NOTE: The club hosting the competition will select the music for all extemporaneous/improvisation events.
  • Don't be tempted to perform elements like multi-revolution jumps that you can not be consistently performed with a flare. Delete any jumps you don't do with style and flow and confidence. You get no credit at all for difficulty of jumps in showcase, but errors will result in a lower mark.
  • The starting pose and costume should immediately attract the attention of audience and convey the theme of the music that will follow. Subsequent moves that are choreographed must keep the momentum going. Except for very beginning skaters, crossovers should not be the primarily method of acquiring speed. All levels of skaters should employ arm movements and dance steps/turns as transitions between skating and musical highlights.
  • Skate and perform with energy!  Make a connection with the audience on all side of the rink, not just the side where the judges sit. A weakly executed performance will receive lower marks in comparison to other programs.
  • Jumps and spins are elements that should not dominate the choreographed routine. Other elements such as footwork, turns, spirals, spread eagles, bauers, etc. should be featured in the choreography.
  • Covering the entire ice surface equally should be a choreographic goal. If a skater repeatedly skates in same general area, the effect is boring and repetitive. By using the entire rink, the audience and judges are continuously involved throughout the program from start to finish. Ignore them and they will be happy to ignore you.
  • The routine should build with the performance. The program should finish with a flair and end exactly with the music.  The skater needs to pace themselves throughout the program in order to provide the audience and judges with a positive expression that climaxes with a memorable position as the music ends. 
  • Play to the audience and judges. You must fill all of the corners of the ice surface. You must exaggerate your gestures and all other aspects of the physical performance. Remember the judges may be sitting next to the ice, but most of the paying spectators will be seated further away and much higher, especially in an arena seating 4 to 6,000. 
      Those who are interested in talking about showcase topics with other skaters and parents, may wish to join the discussion group at

      This discussion group is a site that is privately hosted. Its content is not monitored and some information may not be endorsed by U.S. Figure Skating.

Recommended Reading:

Figure Skating Skill Development
Training Principles
Choreographing Artistic Skating Programs
Test Requirements


Programs In addition, skating academic courses are offered in rules/standards, skating history, choreography and program construction. In all artistic and academic.

Choreography: Figure skating's hidden edge |  Jan. 11, 2007 ... That's why good choreography — the music and steps that make up a program — is so vital to the success of today's finest skaters.

PDF Choreography & Style on ice, and in educating the public that it is the role of a choreographer to introduce drama and expression in a skater's program.


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
Choreography and Artistic Performances
Choreography - An Art or Science?
Role of Skating Technique in Choreography
Music's Role in Creating Skating Programs

Role of the Choreographer in Figure Skating
A Choreographer's Role & Duties
Choreography & Presentation
The Role of Choreography in Presentation
Event Required Elements
Choreographing Free Skating Programs
Choreographing Artistic Skating Programs
Differences in Artistic, Interpretive Events
Choreographing Showcase Events
Theater On Ice
Creating Dance Content
Skater Feedback

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