COMPULSORY DANCE – Yankee Polka

Hmmm the Yankee Polka? It’s all about the costumes and expression. The dance was invented by James Sladky, Judy Schwomeyer and Ron Ludington and first skated at the Skating Club of Wilmington in 1969.

From the rule book: “Although the polka is a bouncy dance, the basic principles of stroking and effortless flow must be adhered to; the dance must not look labored, sloppy or somber. The partners must remain close together to minimize the shipping action generated by the short precise steps and rapid turning movements. Excellent unison and precise timing are required. Unprescribed separations must be avoided.

ORIGINAL DANCE

The original dance event got off to a rocky start when a collision after the first warmup group took the ice between Jonathan Toman (SC of Southern New Jersey) and Chuen-Gun Lee (All Year FSC) resulted in Lee leaving the ice shortly after the warmup began. Lee disappeared backstage with his coaches and returned just in time to take the ice with Slattery, they performed second of the 16 teams. Toman appeared unharmed by the incident.

First to skate were Mallory and Holdburg, who performed to a latin medley from Latin Jams. They were slightly off in their twizzles. In one lift, Mallory was in a Biellmann position while Holdburg was in a spread eagle. Their spin included a change of position in which Mallory held her blade to her head. Their final rotational lift featured Mallory in a Biellmann position. The program highlighted Mallory’s strength of flexibility.
Elements: 19.52 Components: 16.55 OD Total: 36.09 Total: 59.23

Slattery and Lee were up next skating to Samba, Rhumba and Samba rhythms. Lee stumbled in the twizzles of the midline step sequence. Their curve lift featured Lee in a besti position and Slattery in a blade-to-head position with her free leg straight. Their dance spin included a change of position with Slattery in a Biellmann. The program also included diagonal footwork and a final rotational lift with Slattery in a blade-to-head position. Not their best performance, but respectable considering Lee’s injury.
Elements: 19.36 Components: 19.06 OD Total: 38.42 Total: 65.04

Palmer and Toman performed to music from the Dirty Dancing Havana Nights and Once Upon a Time in Mexico movie soundtracks. In their straightline footwork, Toman moved too close to pamer. A new team this season, their dance spin seemed a little slow, which is probably a testiment to their just teaming up. Both lifts, a curve and a rotational, included Palmer in a blade-to-head position.
Elements: 15.89 Components: 10.78 OD Total: 26.67 Total: 41.94

Evans and O’Keefe rounded out the first warm-up group skating to Maria of My Soul/Tito and Punte Ran Kan Kan. Evans was in a blade-to-head position with O’Keefe in a crouched position in their straightline lift, which required balance on the part of both partners. The curve lift featured O’Keefe in a besti position with Evans holding her blade to her head with her free leg straight. In their straightline footwork sequence, their twizzles were off on the first set.
Elements: 18.52 Components: 16.78 OD Total: 35.70 Total: 56.84

McCullough and Dear skated to a medley of music from the movies Havana Nights and Dance with Me, including the selections Jazz Machine, Eres Todi En Mi. The program included diagonal footwork with good unison, and the lifts featured McCullough upside down with Dear on one foot and a curve lift with her upside down with her blade-to-head and Dear in a besti position. In their straightline footwork, they seemed to move from parallel lines to being too close together during the twizzles.
Elements: 23.74 Components: 19.77 OD Total: 43.51 Total: 69.85

Ellis and RossFrye skated an expressive program to a version of Oye Como Va. Their straightline footwork had interesting choreography, though they were off on the unison of their twizzles. Their straightline lift was with Ellis in a blade-to-head position and the rotational lift included a change of position with Ellis starting in a split. Their combination spin had nice transitions.
Elements: 17.56 Components: 15.37 OD Total: 32.93 Total: 55.06

Wester and Barantsev expressed the Samba and Rhumba rhythms in their original dance. Their straightline footwork displayed good unison, especially on the twizzles. Their dance spin included change of position, Wester in the Biellmann position. Their lifts included a curve lift with Barantsev in a besti position and she upside down with her blade to head hanging on his leg and their rotational lift showcased Wester’s flexibility with her blade to her head and her free leg straight. The program ended with Wester in a split between Barantsev’s legs.
Elements: 28.17 Components: 22.63 OD Total: 50.80 Total: 79.65

The new team of Maxwell and Traxler, affectionately nicknamed ‘MaxTrax’, showed a great connection to the Mambo, Rhumba and Samba rhythms in their performance. Their straightline footwork and twizzles showed good unison. Their dance spin included a change of position. Their rotational lift was strongly executed with Maxwell pulling her blade to her head with her free leg straight. Maxwell made the jump to seniors this season after competing at US Nationals at the novice level in 2005.
Elements: 22.27 Components: 19.27 OD Total: 41.52 Total: 65.

Pratt and Gilles started the third warm-up group to music titled “Brazillian ‘66.” Their curve lift and dance spin showed effortless changes of position. Their rotational lift featured Pratt in a split and transitioning to a blade-to-head position. The only problem in the program was a loss of unison at the end of their straightline footwork as the team seemed to be straying together and apart. A great performance for a team new to the senior level at Nationals.
Elements: 25.54 Components: 22.35 OD Total: 47.89 Total: 76.98

The reigning National Champions, Belbin and Agosto, skated to a Salsa, Rhumba and Cha Cha medley with authentic expression. Their program flowed well with the performance of their elements showcasing their confidence and experience as a team. Their straighline footwork was perfectly in synch and they showed great speed throughout the program. Elements: 32.90 Components: 33.42 OD Total: 66.32 Total: 107.80

Matthews and Zavozin skated to the cha cha and samba rhythms for their OD. Their straightline sequence showed great unison. Their curve lift featured Zavozin in a shoot-the-duck position with Matthews in a pretzel position with her blade to her head and the rotational lift showcased Matthews in a blade-to-head position. Their dance spin exhibited good speed before the change of position. The team had an unfortunate fall at the end of their diagonal step sequence.
Elements: 26.88 Components: 26.93 OD Total: 52.81 Total: 86.79

Navarro and Bommentre’s playful and sultry choreography to “Dance with Me” Debella Morgan engaged the audience in their performance and was one of the most well received by the public in attendance. Though the program started with a miscue on the music, the team quickly regrouped for the restart, including Navarro finding her earring on the ice and she quickly put it back in, in time to start. The program featured a clever rotational lift and dance spin with changes in position. The only problem in the program seemed to be lost unison on the twizzles.
Elements: 26.96 Components: 24.48 OD Total: 51.44 Total: 83.13

Gregory and Petukhov skated to the Cha Cha, Rhumba, and Mambo rhythms and displayed nice unison on their straightline footwork with twizzles in unison. Petukhov was in a besti position with Gregory holding her blade to her head for the curve lift. The program contained a nice rotational lift and dance spin that changed positions.
Elements: 30.22 Components: 28.22 OD Total: 58.44 Total: 94.13

Galler-Rabinowitz and Mitchell exhibited an expressive and authentic performance to Merengue, Rhumba and Samba. The program had good speed into the straightline with good unison and sultry expression. Their dance spin also had good speed with a change of position with Galler-Rabinowitz in a Biellmann position. Their curve lift featured Galler-Rabinowitz in an upside down, blade-to-head position. In their straightline lift, Mitchell was on one foot, with her wrapped around him grabbing her blade.
Elements: 26.08 Components: 23.49 OD Total: 49.57 Total: 80.64

Silverstein and O’Meara continued their great performances at Nationals with a performance to Salsa, Rhumba and Cha Cha rhythms. The curve lift showcased Silverstein’s flexibility with her clutching her blade to her head and O’Meara in a besti position. Silverstein looked incredibly happy to be back on the ice at the National Championships.
Elements: 29.44 Components: 25.02 OD Total: 54.46 Total: 86.70

The original dance event ended with the 2005 US pewter medalists Stiegler and Magerovskiy. Their expressive dance to Cha Cha, Rhumba, and Meringue rhythms was entertaining and continued to prove that Stiegler was born for ice dancing. They had nice speed and change of position transition on their dance spin. Their rotational lift included Stiegler in a Biellmann position, showing her flexability. The program was marred only by Magerovskiy’s slight foot down on the twizzle sequence.
Elements: 27.28 Components: 24.44 OD Total: 51.72 Total: 82.56

FREE DANCE

Due to the injury Chuen-Gun Lee sustained in a collision during the warm-up before the original dance, he and partner Kate Slattery were forced to withdraw from the free dance portion of the event. Lee collided with Jonathan Toman, partner of Elizabeth Palmer, and sustained a broken nose and slight concussion after Toman’s elbow hit his face.

Evans and O’Keefe skated to “This Song’s For You” and started with a dance spin. They were off on their first set of twizzles, but in unison on the second set. Evans was in a blade-to-head position for their serpentine lift. In their curve lift, he was in a besti squat while she was in a blade-to-head position with her free leg straight. They had a fall on their straight line lift and ended their program with a highlight move where she was leaning on him on a curve. Elements: 34.14 Components: 24.14 Deductions: -2 FD Total: 56.28 Total: 113.12

Ellis and RossFrye’s performance to bluesy selections by Gary Moore expressed the mood of the music well. Their combination lift included transitioned well with its change of positions. They were slightly off on their first set of twizzles, but in unison on the second set in the element. Their combination spin included low positions with good speed. Other highlights include twizzles in both directions with good speed and a rotational lift where Ellis starts in a vertical split and then switches to a horizontal split. Elements: 34.31 Components: 25.53 FD Total: 59.84 Total: 114.90

Palmer and Toman’s program to Cirque Du Soleil selections included “Seisuoso” from the Quidam CD. Highlights included a curve lift where she grabs her blade to her head and a rotational lift where Palmer has her blade-to-head with her free leg straight. Unfortunately, the program was marred by two falls, one on a rotational lift where Palmer was in a Biellmann position wrapped around Toman’s body and one on their combination spin. Elements: 24.75 Components: 15.94 Deductions: -3 FD Total: 37.69 Total: 79.63

Maxwell and Traxler entertained the audience to an expressive performance to “Iranian Folk Dance” by Bijan Mortazavi and Vanessa Mae. The first elements included aside by side twizzles with good unison and circular footwork. Their combination spin included nice positions and other highlights include a curve lift where Traxler is in a besti position and Maxwell is wrapped around him grabbing her blade. The program ended with a rotational lift where Maxwell is in a Biellmann position and her free leg is extended and a diagonal step sequence. Elements: 37.63 Components: 28.08 FD Total: 65.71 Total: 131.56

McCullough and Dear kept their music from last season, “Harem” by Sarah Brightman, revising it and adding additional music and choreography for their first Nationals as a senior team. The progarm included a very precise rotational lift where McCullough was in an ‘off-horizonal’ position. Their combination lift started on a curve and transitioned to a rotational lift where McCullough was in a Biellmann position. Their twizzles were slightly off in unison. Their combination spin included nice changes of position, with the first being low. Their ending included a low blade straight line move that has become their signature for this and the past two seasons. Elements: 35.56 Components: 30.67 FD Total: 65.23 Total: 135.08

Mallory and Holdburg, silver medallists at the 2005 US Nationals at the junior level, also kept their free dance from last season to“Scheherazade” by Rimsky-Korsakov. The lifts in this program highlight Mallory’s flexibility. Their combination lift started on a curve and then transitioned to a rotational lift with Mallory in a split position. Mallory and Holdburg had good unison on both sets of twizzles and their circular footwork was fast and precise. Their program ended with a rotational lift where Mallory is in a horizontal position, finishing and then to the ending pose. Elements: 41.73 Components: 32.63 FD Total: 74.36 Total: 133.59

Galler-Rabinowitz and Mitchell performed to Variations on a Tango by Astor Piazzolla. The program contained authentic expression. For the first element, a rotational lift, Galler-Rabinowitz was wrapped around Mitchell’s back, grabbing her blade with her free leg straight. Their combination lift started on a curve and they had good speed and position in their combination spin. The final lift in the program was a curve lift where she was in a pretzel position holding her blade to her head. Elements: 41.38 Components: 35.03 FD Total: 76.41 Total: 157.05

Wester and Barantsev, competing at their first US Nationals as a team. Wester had competed with previous partners, while Barantsev had never competed at this event. Their expressive free dance to ‘Russian Folk’ music was energetic and enjoyable to watch. They had good unison on their twizzles. Their reverse rotational lift had Wester in a pretzel position with her blade to her head. Their combination spin contained low positions on the first revolutions with Wester transitioning to a Biellmann position for the second revolutions. Their serpentine footwork had a nice variety of steps for both partners. The last element, a rotational lift, featured Wester with her blade to her head. Elements: 45.84 Components: 36.40 FD Total: 82.24 Total: 161.89

The 2005 US junior champions, Pratt and Gilles, performed an innovative program to ”House of Flying Daggers”, which was choreographed by Christopher Dean. The couple had nice position on their dance spin. Their lifts contained a variety of positions including a curve lift with Pratt inveted with her head close to the ice. Their combination lift started with Pratt with her blade to her head and then transitioned to a rotational lift. Another highlight included a curve lift with Gilles in a besti position and Pratt balancing on his legs with her body horizontal. Their final rotational lift included a difficult entry. Overall, their lifts featured a variety of positions. Elements: 45.68 Components: 37.00 FD Total: 82.68 Total: 159.66

Stiegler and Magerovskiy, who changed coaches from Igor Shpilband to Nikolai Morozov at the end of 2005, skated to “Notre Dame de Paris”. Stiegler, in her second season of ice dancing, had the support of her family in the audience, included her brother Johnny who flew in for the free dance. Their program elements included a curve lift that changes positions. Their combination spin had nice positions and speed. Their combination lift started on a curve with Stiegler in a blade-to-head position that transitioned to a rotational lift with her in a split. The team had good unison on both sets of twizzles. Their final rotational lift had good speed and control with Stiegler grabbing her foot. Elements: 48.51 Components: 39.92 FD Total: 88.43 Total: 170.99

The final group started with Matthews and Zavozin skating to ”Tango de Roxanne” from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Matthews was in a Biellmann position for the combination spin. The combination lift started with Matthews in a blade-to-head position and transitioning to a split. Their straighline lift was in a unique position and had Zavozin in a shoot-the-duck position with Matthews legs wrapped around his head and her body more parallel with his body and her back arched (difficult to explain). Their combination lift was straightline to rotational with Matthews wrapped around Zavozin and clutching her blade. Their twizzles were in unison, but the program was marred by a fall by Matthews. Elements: 46.20 Components: 42.54 Deductions: -1 FD Total: 87.74 Total: 174.53

Gregory and Petukhov performed a passionate program to “Romeo & Juliet” and “Art of War”. Their rotational lift with Gregory holding her blade, had nice speed and control. Their curve lift had a change of position by Gregory. Their spins contained nice speed and positions. Their straightline lift was in a balance position, he in a besti squat and she upside down. The program, though it contained several highlights, was not their best performance of the season and contained several bobbles, which probably resulted in their third place in the free dance. Elements: 45.69 Components: 45.44 FD Total: 91.13 Total: 185.26

Navarro and Bommentre earned a partial standing ovation, one of only two of the evening, skating to “How Sweet it Is” and “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble. The team had nice unison on side by side twizzles and performed their fun choreography with gusto and excitement. Their reverse rotational lift started with Navarro grabbing her blade behind his body, then transitioning to a new position on the reverse rotation. Their second rotational lift, had Navarros swinging around while he is only holding her under her arm. Their combination spin included nice low positions. The program contained a variety of lift position, not all in the blade-to-head or Biellmann position. Elements: 49.21 Components: 41.42 FD Total: 90.63 Total: 173.76

Belbin and Agosto received the second ovation of the evening skating to a flamenco medley. Agosto, who suffered from an injury which prevented the team from competing at the NHK Trophy in November, looked to be regaining his form. Belbin and Agosto are now eligible to compete at the Olympics due to Belbin being sworn in as a US citizen on December 31. Their combination lift started on a curve and ended in a rotational lift and the program and both sets of twizzles were in perfect unison. Elements: 53.94 Components: 53.55 FD Total: 107.49 Total: 215.89

The performances by Silverstein and O’Meara at US Nationals marked Silverstein’s return after a 5 year absence. Their expressive performance to “Nu Tango” included a curve lift where she changes split positions from one to another, and excellent unison on both sets of their twizzles (in both directions). Their bronze medal finish repeats O’Meara’s 2005 Nationals result with Lydia Manon. Elements: 49.63 Components: 42.13 FD Total: 91.76 Total: 178.46