Programs Designed to
Retain Figure Skaters

Hosted by

San Diego Figure Skating Communications

Solo Dance Competitions

Background of Ice Dancing
     Ice dancing combines the athleticism of ice skating with the beauty and artistry of ballroom dancing.  The set pattern dances are derived from traditional ballroom dance tempos (waltz, tango, foxtrot, etc.).

    Ballroom and ice dance are at their best when performed with a partner. However, because there are far fewer male ice dancers, club and open competitions have for decades offered dance events for individual solo dancing to expand the competitive opportunities for skaters without partners. It should not be a surprise that many female ice dancers take advantage of solo dancing until a partner becomes available.

    Skaters taking the standard dance test must eventually perform the dances with a partner and also solo the dances starting at the silver dance test.  A rule once required that the test candidate solo at levels below the Silver dance test, if they were being partnered by skater who had completed one full test level above the level being partnered.

Partner and Solo Dance Sessions
    In the 1960's, most organized dance sessions had a policy of couples having preference in the starting line. Whenever possible the lines are established at each end or side of the rink, depending on where the dance pattern began.  Fancy competitive starts were not allow as this took too much time and held up the line.

    Popular dances often required multiple flights to accommodate those individuals interested in skating the dance.  Frequently there would be a couple and solo flight.

    Many dance sessions had a specific night for lower test level dancers and one in which all of the dances were played. Consideration was given to plan a session that did not have anyone sitting out more than two dances in a row because the dances were too difficult for them to perform.

    Less experienced dancers frequently performed the dances solo until they felt they had the skills to perform specific dances with a partner, especially if potential partners lacked sufficient skills to properly lead the lady through the difficult sections.

Dance Weekends and Dance Cards
    Some dance sessions had strict dress restrictions such as men wearing a tie, dress coat, and worn gloves. The dancer carried a card with all of the dances listed. They would organize the entire night of partner's on their cards.

    Social Ice Dance weekends were popular.  A host club would organize ice dance sessions, a banquet with ballroom dance, and activities for non-skating spouses starting on a Friday night and continuing through Sunday afternoon.  Sometime live music was used for one of the ice dance sessions.
Solo Dance Track of Testing
    The USFS has established a separate solo dance test track, over two decades ago, so skaters can pursue developing their dance skills without the expense of testing with a coach or a "rented" partner to prop the standard partnered ice dance tests.

    Back when clubs held closed competitions only for their members, various dance events were offered such as:
  • Family couples - both skaters must be related (father/daughter, mother/son, sister/brother, husband/wife)
  • Draw for partner - list of eligible male partners would be drawn to act as a partner for solo lady dancers
Open Competitions
     As the concept of open competitions was developed, one of the prime reasons to offer solo dance events was to attract the interest of potential partners. Skating in solo dance events became popular as it frequently led to partner tryouts. Male dancers are very popular at the summer dance competition at Lake Placid, NY which attract a multitude of eager young ladies, and their parents seeking partner to skate competitively.

     Eventually coaches get involved in the process that leads to partnerships. This is especially true when one skater must relocate to another city if the partnership has any hope of becoming a competitive team.

National Solo Dance Championship
     It is difficult for every skater interested in ice dancing to find a suitable partner, the National Solo Dance Championships provide an opportunity for solo ice dancers to demonstrate the grace and physical skills of solo dancing. It provides an incentive for individual to work hard at their solo skating skills and perhaps two individuals may be able to merge their talents as a dance team.

     The National Solo Dance Championship started as a pilot program with the first competition held in Colorado Springs, Colorado in September of 2009.

     In January 2011, the Solo Dance Competition Series was launched. This program serves as a membership and development tool for ice dancing, and is open to individual skaters within the Eastern, Midwestern and Pacific Coast sections.

     The series is an expansion of the National Solo Dance Championships and will provide an avenue for ice dancers at the Standard Levels to compete at and qualify for the National Solo Dance Championships.

    The goal of the National Solo Dance Championship program is to create a fun, competitive program for solo dancers all across the country that will expand their competitive opportunities and provide an opportunity to qualify for a national event. Eventually hosting clubs will bid to host the competition that it rotates to a different section, on a regular basis, to keep travel costs down and stimulate entries of solo and couple ice dancing events at local competitions.

2013 Participant Registration: 2013 Solo Dance Series skaters / participant registration process will begin November 20, 2012 and run through March 8, 2013. The deadline to register as a 2013 Solo Dance Series participant is midnight (MT) on March 8, 2013.

    In order to earn points within the 2013 Series, skaters must be registered with U.S. Figure Skating as a participant prior to competing in a Solo Dance Series Competition you plan to earn placement points from. Click here for the link for skaters to register for participation in the Series.

2013 Solo Dance Series

2013 Solo Dance Series Dates: The 2013 Solo Dance Series season will run from January 1, 2013 - August 18, 2013. Registered Solo Dance Series skaters can compete at participating non qualifying competitions during the season time frame to accumulate points based upon placement at each event. Those skaters finishing highest in their respective sections will qualify for advancement to the National Solo Dance Championships.

2013 Solo Dance Series Events:
    The 2013 Solo Dance Series will include the following events:

  • Pattern Dance Event: Skaters at each level will compete two dances. This will be offered at the preliminary through gold levels. For specific rules, test levels, requirements and details pertaining to the solo pattern dance event, please visit the 2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook.

  • Combined Dance Event: Skaters will compete two pattern dances (pattern dances to be specified by U.S. Figure Skating) and one solo free dance for a combined result. These pattern dances do not count towards the solo pattern dance event as this event is separate. The combined event will be offered at the juvenile through senior levels. For specific rules, test levels, requirements, music lengths and details pertaining to the combined dance event, please visit the 2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook.

  • PLEASE NOTE: Effective 2/7/2013 the duration of the junior and senior free dance music length has been changed to the following: Junior Free Dance: 2:30 MAXIMUM and Senior Free Dance: 2:50 MAXIMUM

  • Short Dance Event: This will be a trial event this season and will be optional. It is offered only for the junior and senior levels and will not count towards the skaters' point accumulations. For specific rules, test levels, requirements and details pertaining to the solo short dance event, please visit the 2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook.

  • Resources

         There are a significant number of changes to the 2013 Solo Dance Series events including test level requirements, free dance program length and event requirements.

         Please refer to the 2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook for complete information regarding the Series and the rules that will be in effect during the 2013 Solo Dance Series at all participating competitions.

    2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook and Rules Document (PDF)

    2013 Solo Dance Series Skater Participant Registration

         Non qualifying Competitions Participating in the 2013 Solo Dance Series
    2013 Solo Dance Series Participants
    • Solo dance participant lists will be posted in March, 2013.

    Dances for the 2013 Solo Dance Series

    The solo pattern dance event and combined event dance events are being offered as part of the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Solo Dance Series and will be conducted in accordance with the 2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook. Please refer to the 2013 Solo Dance Series handbook for the current Series rules, levels and event requirements that will be in effect for this competition.

    Solo Pattern Dance Events
    The solo pattern dance event is comprised of two dances at each level. This event is being offered at the Preliminary, Pre-Bronze, Bronze, Pre-Silver, Silver, Pre-Gold and Gold levels.

    Pre- Bronze

    Dutch Waltz

    Canasta Tango


    Fiesta Tango

    Hickory Hoedown

    Willow Waltz




    Silver Tango

    Rocker Foxtrot


    Paso Doble



    Refer to the  2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook  for the solo pattern dance
    event rules, test requirements and details.

    All dancers must either compete at their test level or one level above
    of their highest completed dance test. The determination of level will be
    based upon test level at the deadline for entries.

    Combined Event
    The combined dance event is comprised of the following:

    1. Two solo pattern dances selected by U.S. Figure Skating and listed below -

    Ten Fox

    14 Step

    American Walz
    Paso Doble

    Starlight Waltz

    Silver Samba

    Yankee Polk

    2. A solo free dance

    The pattern dances competed in the combined dance event are separate from
    those in the solo pattern dance event and the results will not count towards the
    solo pattern dance event or results. This event is offered at the Juvenile, Inter-
    mediate, Novice, Junior and Senior levels. Refer to the
    2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook

    Effective February 7, 2013 the music duration for the junior and senior free dance
    levels in the Combined Event has changed to the following:

    Junior Free Dance: Duration 2:30 MAXIMUM
    Senior Free Dance: Duration 2:50 MAXIMUM

    NOTE: Skaters will be permitted to use their free dance music length that they may
    have had edited to match the previous music length stipulation listed for junior or
    senior solo free dance, provided that this free dance music length does not exceed
    the new time maximums stated above for junior and senior solo free dance.

    Short Dance Event
    The short dance will be a trial event this season and will be optional. It is offered only for the junior and senior levels and will not count towards the skaters' point accumulations. For specific rules, test levels, requirements and details pertaining to the solo short dance event, refer to the 2013 Solo Dance Series Handbook.

    Judging Criteria

        Judges evaluate partnered and solo dances using the same criteria:
    • Is the dance performed with the prescribed steps and turns in time with the designated tempo?
    • Is the dance able to interpret/ express the dance tempo?
    • Is the dancer able to skate each edge and in the process not lose power, but maintain or gain power with every edge, turn, and lobe transition?
    • Are the edges and turns properly executed to the music and placed to fill the rink as per the dance description and pattern?

        Obviously in a partnered standard dance test or competition, judges can observe the interaction between a lady and a man as they attempt to work together in a unified (unison) attempt to perform the above criteria.  Dancing with a partner is much more difficult than a skater performing a dance solo.

    USFS and ISU Establish Ice Dancing Set Patterns and Rules
         Compulsory dances are set pattern ballroom type dances prescribed by the USFSA and ISU. The music used must be of a uniform tempo with a precise number of beats per minute. The skater(s) are expected to skate to the music in strict accordance to the timing. Judging is also based on evaluating the technical accuracy of steps, placement of the pattern, performance to the prescribed dance tempo, the style and carriage of the skater. A solo skater is also judged on their expression or interpretation of the character of the dance. 

    Test Requirements:
          Both standard and standard solo dance tests are acceptable to qualify for the Solo Dance Series. Masters and Adult dance tests are not accepted.

    Recommended Reading:

    2011 Solo Dance Series Participants List (PDF)

    2011 Solo Dance Series Participating Non qualifying Competitions List (PDF)

    Solo Dance Competition Series Information Sheet (PDF)

    Online Registration Form (HTML)

    Competition Selection Form (HTML)

    Point Calculation Chart (PDF)

    2011 Solo Dance Competition Series Detailed Summary (PDF)


    Adult Solo Dance Events

    Pattern Dance Events - set pattern dances

    Bridge Program Dance Curriculum

    Acquiring Basic Dancing Skills

    USFSA Compulsory Dance Tempo Chart

    Compulsory Dance Patterns

    USFSA Dance Rules

    Differences between Ice Dancing and Pair Skating

    Who Needs a Partner? Solo Ice Dancers Shine at National ...
    Sept. 30, 2009 ... "Ice dancing has become so very expensive," Gilbert said. "The National Solo Dance Championships have given ice dancers, of all ages, to experience the fun of ice dancing.

    PDF 2011 Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships 
    2011 Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships. July 28 – 30 2011. Olympic Center
    13 compulsory dances, six free dances, three short dance events, 10 solo dances. 

    USFS Competition Events 

    Competition Requirements

    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 Dancing
    Solo Dance Events
             Solo Dance Competitions

    All materials are copy protected. 
    The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
    credit is given for the source of the materials.

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