jo skates

Skating in the key of life

The body shouts, too


Okay, because I was so engrossed in imagining myself as a horse while writing my last post, I burned the waffle I was making for breakfast. I finally listened to my hungry body and ate it anyway, so I did not have a chance to share this article from Dance Magazine, entitled “Listening to your body,” until now.

I’ve found relatively few resources on dancers who continue into their 50s and beyond, so this article has some welcome commentary from Pat Catterson, who at age 66 continues to dance, choreograph, and tour. She talks about “intelligent dancing” and not letting fear overtake you.

Yes, you have to be sensible, but if you let fear cripple you, then you just move correctly and you don’t dance anymore. Dancing is a combination of control and abandon, and you have to have that abandon to feel like you’re dancing.

The personal statement on her website talks about making art as “a futile remedy but a necessary act.” So inspiring.

Pat Catterson in Yvonne Rainer's

Pat Catterson in Yvonne Rainer’s “Trio A,” MOMA 2009.

Okay, the rest of this post is not about making art, but a list of things I’ve been working on, with mental notes to myself tucked in.

  • Don’t push through turns (in other words, don’t push off the edge in order to turn your foot; just let the rise and core rotation turn you)
  • Two foot rockers on an axis. Make sure these are rockers and not three turns. Practice the rise and fall of the knee bend and don’t turn early. It might be easier to think about just one foot (the inside edge one). Don’t interrupt your knee action on the way into the new edge.
  • New exercises: inside mohawk, back change edge, cross in front, step forward, other side
  • More new exercises: tuck behind, stroke, f. cross, three turn
  • Still more: swing roll, change edge, push into mohawk (extend after, like on the Westminster), push back
  • Viennese-like exercise: cross forward, tuck behind, change edge, tuck behind, hop push to change sides
  • Edge pulls: skate moves back and forth underneath body, use edge push (not running ALONG edge); allow shoulders to release so core can rotate.
  • Stroking: free foot pointing down rather than parallel (except on three turn entry)
  • Twizzles: push with hips turned out, square off as free leg comes in, foot turns the twizzle, not body

Sensible, with a touch of abandon!

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.

4 thoughts on “The body shouts, too

  1. This is so much stuff to remember! I don’t know how we skaters do it! Guess that is why we practice and have it engrained in muscle memory. Then we can try to clear the brain and just enjoy ourselves out on the ice! 😉


  2. Hi Eva, I hit the wrong button and published this before I was done writing it!! Sorry about the list. Will fix later…


  3. Nice find, and true, that “combination of control and abandon.” As far as the skills, that ‘don’t push through turns’ is one I’ve been working on for so long. I have a big tendency to use my arms, my free side, etc. to force turns. I am working on getting more action from the skating leg and the skating side, and as you say, from the natural rotation.


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