Ice Dancing
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San Diego Figure Skating Communications

Dancing on Ice

Ice Dancing has its roots in Ballroom Dancing.
       Ice dancing is a discipline of figure skating that combines the athleticism of figure skating with the beauty and artistry of ballroom dancing. 

       Most of the USFSA compulsory dances are derived from traditional ballroom dances (for example the waltz, tango, foxtrot, etc.) "Latin" type dances. Ice dance is a different event from pair skating with  restrictions on lifts, jumps, and spins.

      Ice dancing tests and non-qualifiying competitions are held for solo dancers. Competitive qualifying events require a partner. A team (couple) consists of a lady and man. Skaters are allowed to test with a coach as a partner. Solo tests are separate from regular compulsory tests, however (except for Silver and above, where a skater is required to perform the standard test both as a couple and a solo in order to pass a test).

      In lower levels of qualifying competitions, the events consists of compulsory dances, an original dance, and, for some levels, a free dance. For our elite junior and senior international dancers, the events consist of a "short dance" and a free dance.

      Compulsory dances are set pattern ballroom type dances prescribed by the USFSA. The music is kept to a regular, precise number of beats per minute, and the skater(s) are expected to skate to the music in strict time. Judging is based on accuracy of steps, placement of the pattern, the style and carriage of the skater(s), and, for couples, the unison. They are also judged on their timing in performing the steps to the music and their body and facial expressions to communicate the character/mood of the dance.

      The original dance is also a ballroom type dance, except it is the coach of the skaters who makes up the dance pattern. The key word here is pattern. Each year at the beginning of the season, the USFSA selects a style of music (i.e. Waltz, Jive, Tango, etc.) to be used by all teams competing; generally the style chosen differs from level to level. It is up to the dance team to choose music that conforms to the rules specified for that season, and to make up the dance for competition. The couple is then judged on everything they were judged on in the compulsory dance, minus the accuracy of the steps (since the judges cannot possibly know every single team's program).

      The free dance allows the couple to choose the music and choreograph a program in compliance to the rules and restrictions which keep ice dance from turning into pair skating. Free dancing is a very athletic form of ballroom dance, combined with jumps, lifts, and spins, with the free flowing movements of free skating.

Recommended Reading:

Sports Information

Sports Training



Skating Programs, Seminars, and Workshops

Ice Dancing General Rules and Regulations

Learn to Skate Program

Table of Contents - Basic Skills Bridge Program Handbook


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.

Ice Dancing General Rules and Regulations
         Dancing On Ice
         Dance Steps & Turns
         Ice Dance Patterns
Dance Curriculum
         Ice Dance Partnered Events
         Free Dancing
         Competitive Ice Dancing
PDF Strategies for Compulsory Dance Tests
         Free Dance Test Considerations
         Short Dance & Free Dance Events
         Pattern Dance Events   
         Solo Dance Events 
PDF Solo Dance Events
         Solo Dance Competitions

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