jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Fear and (almost) loathing in practice

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If you read Pete’s story, you will know that we played “add a trick” back in the day. Nowadays I’ve been playing a new mental game on the ice. I might call it “What are you afraid of?” The idea is that I spend at least a little time each practice session doing things that I’m worried about, especially if the worry leaves me with the feeling that I really don’t want to do it.

This list doesn’t include jumps or spins. I’ve never been particularly worried about making myself into a human projectile with a pair of blades attached, but I gave up my beloved freestyle blades (big honking Phantoms that felt like a driving a Cadillac) over a decade ago. I was delighted to realize a few years ago when first starting to work on a free dance that I actually could spin and do half or even single jumps on dance blades (duh, Jo, what did you think–that they switch skates for the free dance?) The elements of the free dance that look scary from the outside–lifts, pair spins, twizzles–are challenging but actually really really fun. They are definitely exhilarating in a kind of “hold your breath” way but this is a plus. (At least for me: in the case of lifts, I’m not the one doing the heavy lifting.)

I’m talking about scary in a way that requires a bit of mental preparation. Ari has said that the difference between teaching kids and teaching adults is that the kids just do what he asks them to and the adults have to think about it (and in my case, talk about it). Not having done this as a kid, I’m not sure what skating would be like without a heavy dose of talk-therapy attached to it. So maybe talking about it here will save some time on the ice.

Some examples of things I’ve been making myself do:

  • Full patterns of the kilian (breathe, Jo, breathe)
  • Mohawks and back outside swing rolls (like in the Starlight Waltz)
  • Left forward outside three turns of all kinds
  • Turns that are preceded by a left outside swing roll: quickstep choctaw, Argentine tango twizzle

It has been a lot of fun skating in Portland. The ice is fast, which gives me the happy illusion that my stroking is more efficient. Everyone has been really friendly; I have met some of the same people that I shared the rink with last year as well as some new folks, including a woman who recognized me from this year’s Adult Nationals (she was there for interpretive and freestyle) and said something really heartening our free dance there. She said that she, as a Latina, really enjoyed the Spanish guitar/flamenco style, and she and her coach said I looked really “committed” to the music and choreography. So yay!

Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

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