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Short Dance Guide

The Short Dance is the first of the two Ice Dancing event segments.  It consists of 4 elements and is nominally 2 minutes 50 seconds in duration, but can be up to 10 seconds longer or shorter.  There is a time deduction of 1.0 points for every 5 seconds or part thereof over the maximum or under the minimum.  If a program is more than 30 seconds under minimum the team gets no score and is withdrawn from the competition.  There is also a 2.0 point deduction for any extra elements beyond the four permitted, with one exception noted below.  The rhythm of the dance is prescribed by the Ice Dance Technical Committee, and for some rhythms the committee can specify a different time length for the dance.

The Short Dance was  created in 2010 as a combination of a pattern dance and the original dance which formerly made up the first two dances in the Ice Dance event.  Over many years and changes in rules the Original Dance evolved from an original set pattern dance into a mini free dance.  In 2010, to reduce the number of dances in the Ice Dance event, the Original Dance became the Short Dance, with two sections of a pattern dance made a part of the short dance.  The dance is choreographed to a prescribed rhythm and subject matter that is published by the ISU prior to the start of each season.  The detailed requirements of the dance are contained in an ISU Communications that is released typically in June or July each year.

Conforming to the required rhythm and/or character of the dance is extremely important in the Short Dance, more so than for Singles and Pairs Short Programs.  The Short Dance for the 2010/11 season is a waltz.

The five elements in the Short Dance consist of the following:

2 Pattern Dance Sections

For the 2010/11 season the senior couples must execute two sections of the Golden Waltz.  These sections can be executed in either order.  For Juniors the couples must execute two sequences of the Viennese Waltz.

In each section or sequence there are four "key points" that are evaluated by the Technical panel.  These are specific steps within the section or sequence that the man or lady (or both) must execute correctly.  The couples receive one level for each key point that the Technical Panel confirms correctly executed.  Thus, each of the two pattern dance elements get a base value and up to a level of four for the element.  If none of the key points are executed correctly, the pattern dance element would receive no points, just as a "no-level" element in other parts of IJS receive no points.


Dance lifts differ from Pairs lifts in that the man does not raise the woman over his head with fully extended arms.  In dance the woman cannot be raised above the man's head.  Pairs lifts are categorized by the hold used for the takeoff of the lift, while in Dance they are categorized by the pattern on the ice.  In the Original Dance, the lift cannot exceed six seconds in duration.  When scores posted in the arena show a deduction and there has not been a fall it is often due to either an "extended lift"  (a lift longer than the permitted time) or a time deduction.

Four types of lifts are permitted in the Original Dance: stationary (the skaters are not in motion over the ice); straight line (the lift moves across the ice in a straight line; curve (the lift rotates as it moves across the ice).

Dance lifts can have fairly complex positions with the lady draped over the man's body, legs, etc. in various intricate designs. Look for twisting, complex entries of the lady into and out of the lift to add difficulty to the lift.  As in pairs, look for a secure lift of the woman by the man, and pay attention to his feet to see that he move securely and cleanly across the ice with steady feet.  Changes in position in the air  should be neat and under control.

Watch the exit from the lift  to see that is is clean and under control.  When the woman is retuned to the ice, both skaters should flow out of the lift smoothly. and immediately into connecting steps as they continue the program.

The couples are permitted a second lift, but this lift is not score as an element.  If executed, and usually it is, it is listed on the marks detail as Li+Trans, with a value of zero.  Credit for this lift is included in the mark for transitions (Linking Movements and Footwork).  This second lift is not considered an extra element.  A third lift, however, would, and would receive the deduction for an extra element.

Midline Not Touching Step Sequence

This element is very similar to a pairs step sequence, as the skaters are not holding onto each other as is usually the case in a Pairs step sequence.  Both skaters will execute the same steps, edges and movements in unison as they move down the ice, except for brief highlights within the step sequence.  The distance between the skaters should be no more than two arms lengths (finger tips barely touching if both their arms were outstretched).  The skaters should remain more or less abreast and one skater should not get too far ahead of the other in the sequence.

As in all step sequences, look for clean steps and edge, good positions under control, and a smooth flow through the element.  This element is scored using the principle of least common denominator.  The worse of the two sequences is what determine the level and quality of the element.  The unison of this element is also very important, so look for identical timing and technique in the steps and movements in the element.

This is a good element for evaluating the skating skills of the skaters, so pay attention to the difficulty of the steps and edges, the ability of the skaters to skate on all edges, and to turn clockwise or counter clockwise as they move across the ice.  This element is also a good element to develop the Interpretation component of the program, so pay attention to how the step sequence actually relates to the music and how it fits into the overall choreography of the program.

Sequential Twizzles

A twizzle is a type of turn that looks like a traveling spin.  It is executed on one foot and rotates several times as the skater moves across the ice.  Sequential refers to the requirement that the skater must do two of these rotating in opposite directions.  Skaters who do not have facility with this turn might execute traveling three turns instead.  This is not correct and a serious error.

Skilled skaters will execute this element with high speed and arm and body positions that add to the difficulty.  Look for clean edges and precise control without the skaters throwing up snow, scrapping edges, wobbling the free leg, or worst of all, putting down the free foot.  The best skaters will execute these in a blur of speed, while lesser teams will struggle trough on the verge of disaster.

Copyright 2011 by George S. Rossano