At the 1998 ISU Congress the format for the ice dancing event was extensively overhauled. Changes affecting the judging of the event went into effect for the 1998/99 season while others dealing with the format of the event were scheduled for introduction with the 1999/00 season. Because of these changes, the ice dance event this season will look a little different than previously, and ISU officials - most notable ISU President Cinquanta - are hoping that this will introduce more movement into ice dance results.
Four dance are chosen at the start of each season. At the European Championships, Four Continents Championships, and the World Championships two of the four dances are skated. The dances are chosen by random draw at the European Championships and the Four Continents Championships. For the World Championships the following process is used. If the same two dances are drawn at Euro's and 4C, the other two dances are skated at Worlds. If three of the four dances are used at Euro's and 4C, the dance not used at those two competitions is skated at Worlds together with the dance skated at both Euro's and 4C. If all four dances are used at Euro's and 4C, two dances are chosen by random draw at Worlds.
Required deductions have been introduces for specific errors in specific steps in the compulsory dances. For 1999/00 the deductions for a fall have been increased. The deduction for a fall now is based on the number of step sequences in a dance and the number of sequences omitted due to a fall. The worst case scenario now is a fall in which one sequence of a two sequence dance is missed. This would result in a deduction of 3.0 since in that case half the dance would have been omitted. These higher deductions make it more likely placements will change when a couple falls in a compulsory dance.
Changes in the original dance were so substantial that the skaters were given a full season to prepare for them. They are so far reaching that the ISU considered renaming the OD the "combination rhythm dance" or the "technical free dance" (with the free dance becoming the "artistic free dance"). In the end the name Original Dance was retained.
The original dance is now three minutes in duration instead of the previous two. Each season the skaters are given a group of related rhythms to choose from. The timing of the music is also specified but not the tempo, and vocal music is now permitted. The dance must include several required elements and there are required deduction for errors in the required elements. In this respect the dance is now somewhat like a pairs short program, and some dancers have remarked that maybe it is too much like a short program since it is sometimes difficult to express the character of the music as a dance and still meet the technical requirements.
For the 1999/00 season the original dance is a Latin combination rhythm dance. The skaters must include two or three of the following rhythms into the dance: cha-cha, meringue, rhumba, samba, or tango. Each rhythm must be skated to one piece of music and if two rhythms are used one of the two is repeated with the same piece of music used for that rhythm each time. For example, a couple could skate a dance consisting of rhumba, meringue, and samba skated to three different pieces of music or could use cha-cha, rhumba, cha-cha skated to two pieces of music with both cha-cha sections skated to the same piece of music.
In addition to the deductions for the required elements, there are deduction for other technical errors, errors in the choice of music and costumes, falls, etc. As in the case of the compulsory dances the deductions for falls have be ratcheted up this season and depend on the severity of the fall and the amount of the dance omitted as a result of the fall.
The Latin rhythm dance has the following required elements:
Two dance lifts, and only two.
One circular step sequence executed in the middle of the rink and utilizing the full width of the ice surface in closed, tango, and/or open (but not Kilian) position and incorporating difficult footwork for both partners. No jumps or hops may be included.
One diagonal step sequence extending fully from corner to corner or on straight-line step sequence using the mid-line of the ice surface extending the full length of the ice. Either step sequence must incorporate difficult mirror and.or matching footwork and at least one series of synchronized twizzles. During this step sequence, the partners must remain at not more than 2 arms lengths apart, but may not touch each other. Small hops or jumps (of not more that 1/2 rotation) may be included.
One dance spin with a minimum of three and a maximum of five revolutions. This dance spin must be skated in any Kilian position with or without a change of foot by one or both skaters.
Of the required elements, the latter two of the above are the elements giving the couples the most trouble at the start of the current season. In the case of the dance spin the couples tend to stop in from of the judges, do the element, and then go back to the dance.
The diagonal step sequence is basically a pairs step sequence. In the past dancers were not permitted to separate for a full step sequence and normally dance couples have nor skated a full step sequence in mirror or shadow skating, so this is something new for the dancers. In the dances we have seen thus far this season this step sequence has tended to look out of place with the couples looking like pair teams with their focus more on meeting the technical requirements rather than skating the dance.
The free dance is mostly unchanged since last season. The restrictions and the required content of the free dance have been refined this season and vocal music will be permitted in the free dance this season for the first time.
The free dance has the following general content requirements:
All steps and turns are permitted. The program must be developed through skating quality rather than non-skating quality actions and activities - i.e., by skating and not by gesturing, play acting, and other gimmicks.
Free skating movements, within the limitations indicated in the rules, are permitted when they are appropriate to the character of the music and concept of the program.
Deep edges and intricate footwork displaying skill, difficulty and originality must be included and performed by both partners. Separations to execute intricate footwork are allowed. The number of separations is not restricted. Each separation may have a maximum duration of 10 seconds.
All changes of position are permitted.
Excessive repetition of non-skating movements such as sliding on one knee or toe steps must be avoided.
Typical pair skating positions such as hand-in-hand positions, one after the other or mirror skating must be avoided.
Stops, in which the couple remain stationary on the ice while performing body movements, posing, and the like are permitted. Stops may have a maximum duration of five seconds.
Lifts in accordance with the definition of a dance lift are permitted. Lifts may have a maximum duration of five seconds.
Jumps, dance jumps, dance spins, pirouettes and twizzles are permitted provided they are in accordance with the definitions of those moves given in the rules/
The senior free dance has the following specific content requirements this season:
Five different lifts but not more than seven. One of these lifts must be a non-rotational lift skated on two different curves by the lifting partner. The change in direction may incorporate a three turn, rocker, mohawk, or similar turn of not more than 1/2 rotation. A turn, however, is not required. One of these lifts must also be a rotational lift with at least two rotations by the lifting partner.
Two spins but not more than three of at least three rotations. One of these spins must be a spin in Foxtrot position/hold with at least two rotations and at least two further rotations (for a minimum of four) in any other dance hold; i.e., two different dance holds are required. One change of foot for both partners is permitted.
At least two series of synchronized twizzles.
Two step sequences, one circular using the full width of the ice surface and one diagonal extending fully from corner to corner. Both must incorporate mohawks, choctaws, rockers, counters and other steps. Twizzles may be included in step sequences but not count as the requires synchronized twizzles. Lifts, jumps, dance spins and pirouettes are not permitted during the step sequences.
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