1996/97 Original Dance: The Tango

The original dance makes up 30 percent of the final placements in Junior and Senior dance events. It is always skated after the compulsory dances and before the free dance. The original dance is more like a compulsory dance than a free dance. Step sequences do not have to be repeated as in a compulsory dance, but most of the liberties allowed in the content of free dance are not allowed in the original dance. Because of the many restrictions and requirements in the content of the dance, and the required deductions taken in the event of violations of the rules, the original dance is somewhat analogous to the short program in singles and pairs.

In the original dance all the couples skate a dance 2 minutes in duration. The rhythm of the dance is specified in advance of the start of each competition season along with the range of tempo permitted. Each couple can choose its own music, but it must conform to the rhythm and tempos specified. If it does not it will be crucified by deductions in the mark for presentation. The dance must have the character of a ballroom dance translated to the ice by flow and use of edges.

The dance may include all steps, turns, rotations, and changes of position that are appropriate to the designated rhythm and the music chosen by the couple. The more difficult, original, and intricate the footwork the better. Toe steps and small toe jumps are permitted for some rhythms, but may not be used to excess. Repetition of any steps or step sequences is permitted but not required. Skating on two feet and kneeling on two knees is forbidden, except that up to two highlights on two feet are permitted with a maximum duration of 5 seconds.

The dance pattern must proceed in generally one direction, either clockwise or counter- clockwise. It must not cross the long axis of the rink (the mid-line oriented along the long direction of the rink) except at the ends of the rink, or in the case of one diagonal sequence oriented from one corner of the rink to the opposite corner. A small number of stops (one or two) are permitted, with the number depending on the rhythm being skated.

Separations are limited to no more than one measure of music to change dance hold, and up to 5 seconds at the beginning and/or end of the dance. For certain rhythms additional separations are sometimes allowed.

The teams may incorporate any dance holds, arm movements, handclaps, etc. that are interpretive of the music, however, hand-in-hand positions with extended arms are not permitted. Holding, pulling and pushing a partner's leg is also prohibited. To avoid questions of interpretation of what constitutes holding, pulling, or pushing, the simple touching of the partner's leg will result in a deduction.

The criteria for judging an original dance is similar to that used in the compulsory dances. However, since the couples choose their own music and choreography there are other factors to consider also. In the mark for composition the difficulty, originality, and variety of the steps is also taken into account, and the shape of the pattern, the way it is laid out on the ice, and the utilization of the ice surface are considered. In the presentation mark, the correct choice of music and the harmonious composition of the program as a whole are additional factors considered in the judging of an original dance, but not considered in judging a compulsory dance. Interpretation also plays a bigger role, since more freedom is allowed body positions and movements in the original dance than in the compulsory dances.

Original dances are subject to deductions for violations of the music requirements, violations of the costume requirements, and violations of the technical restrictions. Violations of the technical restrictions are only taken from the mark for composition. The other deductions are taken from the second mark for presentation. The deduction for a fall is left to the individual discretion of the judges depending on how serious it is in terms of length of interruption to the program. The deduction for a fall is taken in the mark for composition, and may also be taken in the mark for presentation if the fall affects the further presentation of the program.

For the 1996-97 competition season the original dance rhythm is the Tango - 120 to 140 beats per minute, 30 to 35 measures per minute, 4/4 time. The mood must be intense and deliberate. Short quick steps followed by long deliberate edges are the main character of the dance. Though steps flow from one to the next, they should tend to have a staccato flair. The following technical requirements apply to this dance.

  1. The musical introduction may be without beat or melody, and may have a maximum duration of 10 seconds.
  2. The dance must proceed in a generally constant direction, clockwise or counterclockwise. The dance must not cross the long axis except once at each end of the rink, and in the course of a single required diagonal pattern. Stops at the start and/or finish of the diagonal sequence are permitted.
  3. A maximum of two loops are permitted in the pattern. They may not cross the long or short axis of the rink. The couple may reverse for up to two measures of music twice. Stops to reverse direction are permitted. One of the two reverses may be in the diagonal sequence.
  4. A few waltz jumps are allowed for each partner, but both partners may not jump at the same time.
  5. Starting or ending apart is permitted, not to exceed 5 seconds duration. Separations during the dance permitted only in order to change dance positions.
  6. A maximum of 2 stops, other than those listed in 2 and 3, are permitted.
  7. Kneeling on the ice is not permitted.

In October we provided a summary of the deductions applicable to the different parts of dance events. We repeat here the table of deductions relevant to the Original Dance, so you don't have to go searching for it elsewhere.


Violation Deduction Mark
Incorrect or inapproriate music
(e.g., incorrect tempo, or more than two selections)
0.1 - 0.4 Presentation
Incorrect tempo 0.1 - 0.4 Presentation
Music lacks a constant beat or character of ballroom dancing 0.1 - 0.4 Presentation
Lack of expression 0.1- 0.4 Presentation
Inapporpriate costumes 0.1 - 0.2 Presentation
Excessive toe steps

Use of lifts, jumps other than small toe jumps

Excessive hops or small toe jumps

Both partners do not have at least one skate on the ice

Separations other than at beginning or end of dance

Separations of more than 5 seconds

More than two stops

Hand in hand skating with extended arms

Kneeling on ice or standing on two feet

Pulling or pushing partner by the leg (includes the mere touching of the partner’s leg)

0.1 per violation Composition

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