I have been mainly working on particular basic ice dance elements (the sub-atomic particles of our sport) rather than focusing on compulsories or choreography. (Though I try to spend at least the last half-hour of practice time daily on compulsories, just so I don’t forget how to put things together or lose my stamina completely.) This means lots of time listening to the radio, which is usually on during my practice time.
Anyone who skates during public sessions when the radio is playing is subject to developing earworms (you know, the songs that get stuck in your head). The rinks around here gravitate between contemporary pop hits and classic rock; once in a while I’ll hit a rink with country music, but that’s rare.
As you can probably see from earlier entries, I’m developing an alarming affinity for these pop songs. I was at my younger son’s middle-school choir concert last spring and realized, much to my chagrin, that I knew these songs: “Say Something” (A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera), “Let Her Go” (Passenger), “Pompeii” (Bastille). Maddy (a lovely and talented fourteen-year-old skater whose lessons on triple salchows happen to coincide with some of my practices) said today that she thinks of me whenever she hears Meagan Trainor’s “All About that Bass” and especially Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
In my own defense, music is really important even when I’m working on basics. Way back when I was working with Bert Wright in LA, he would have us step out patterns to any kind of upbeat music; I remember doing this in Bert’s living room along with George, a ice dancer from Korea who was another student of Bert’s. I think the music keeps me from clenching my muscles, especially when I’m working so hard on pushing into the ice.
But to try to give my soundtrack some variety, I try to come up with some older songs of varying tempos, styles, and moods. Here’s just a few to get things started. . . maybe friends and readers will suggest more.
- Leonard Bernstein, “Something’s Coming” (from West Side Story). Between the rhythmic and melodic pulsing and the lyrics (“Something’s comin’, don’t know when, but it’s soon, catch the moon, one-handed catch”) you can’t help but feel Tony’s optimism, even though (no spoilers here) you know it will all come crashing down in the end.
- Stevie Wonder, “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” Hug me. Please.
- George Michael, “Faith.” Anyone with a pulse has to tap her feet to the guitar, tambourine, and percussion background. Plus just before the third reprise of “‘Cause I gotta have faith” there is that most excellent pause that makes you hold your breath: “‘Well I need someone to hold me but I’ll wait for something more. . . “
- Jack Johnson, “Upside Down.” Just enough of a Hawai’i feel to make me feel all sunny inside, but not so much that I want to take my skates off and hop on a plane to somewhere where there are way more surfing beaches than skating rinks.
- Michael Franti, “Say Hey (I Love You).” It’s the clapping. It’s the rhythm. No, it’s the lyrics–how can you not want to hear “I love you” over and over again?
It was George Balanchine who said “Dance is music made visible.” What a lovely thought.