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Choreographing a
Free Skating Program

      Choreographing a figure skating routine takes a lot of preparation and time to complete so it conforms to the USFS rules governing the level of the event. A choreographer must you know the differences of what is the minimum required for tests, but the rules of required elements for competitive events - for short and long free skating program for singles and pairs competition, plus short dance and free dance events for specific levels, you must also be creative in imagining an appropriate and beautiful routine.

      The qualities of a well balanced free skating program applies to test and competition programs. There should be the full utilization of the ice surface and the transitions between jumps and spins should be achieved through turns, steps, and other features such as spirals, pivots, spread eagles, etc. that compliment the musical score.

      A few tips can help you successfully choreograph a figure skating routine:
  • Understand the rules and requirements for the test/competition level. Double check the rules that will apply after Sept. 1 each year for that season. These rules are now available on line at USFS Rulebook. 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.
  • Classical music still is a traditional and widely accepted choice for most figure skating routines. However, many skaters prefer music from broadway stage shows and blockbuster Hollywood  movies.  Match the skater's age and skating skills to the choice of music.  Routines for artistic/ showcase events should utilize music that reflects the skater's personality and conforms to the event description - vocal or non vocal.
  • 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.
  • Jumps and spins are flashy elements of a choreographed routine. Other elements include footwork, turns, spirals, spread eagles, bauers, etc.
  • 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.
  • The emotional impact of the routine should build throughout the performance. The program should finish with a flair and always end in concert with the music.  The skater needs to develop the ability to pace themselves throughout the program in order to provide the audience and judges with a positive emotional impression that climaxes with a memorable position as the music ends.
  • A program whose choreography allows the emotional level to fade at the end rarely produces as high scores as one that builds throughout the program and finishes with a dramatic ending.
Recommended Reading:

Stages of Learning Sports
Sports Skill Mechanical Techniques
General Physical Preparedness
Sports Biomechanics
Figure Skating Skill Development
Training Principles
Choreographing Artistic Skating Programs
Test Requirements


Lehigh Valley Performing Arts 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
Artistic and Interpretive Events
Choreographing Showcase Events
National Showcase Events
Theater On Ice
Creating Dance Content
Skater Feedback

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