Au Revoir CDs

Note #1 for posterity: The last compulsory dance skated at a senior ISU Championship was the Golden Waltz. Italy’s Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali were the final skaters to take the ice to perform the Golden.

Note #2 for posterity: The last compulsory dance skated at a junior ISU Championship was the Westminster Waltz. Russia’s Ekaterina Pushkash & Jonathan Guerreiro were the final skaters to take the ice to perform the Westminster (or Westmonster, as it is often called).

R.I.P compulsory dances, at least for the juniors and seniors anyway. The final nail in the coffin will take place in Barcelona in June when the ISU finalizes its plans to reduce the number of competitive phases for ice dancing from three to two. The compulsory and original dance phases will be melded into a new “short dance.” For the novice level and below, it appears that the compulsory dances will now be known as “pattern dances.”

The 2010 ISU Congress agenda is now online and throughout the 202 pages are countless requested changes to the language to reflect the new two-phased competition. 

Though the ISU has not released a communication with more details on the changes, some information has filtered down to coaches who are now busy navigating the new “short” dance maze. Here are some of the modifications:

Length: The duration of the new short dance is 2 minutes 50 seconds +/- 10 seconds. This is in line with the length of the former original dance.

Patterns: For juniors, two patterns of the Viennese Waltz must be incorporated into the choreography. The steps must be consecutive and follow the pattern of the compulsory. For seniors, one pattern of the Golden Waltz must be incorporated into the choreography. Ideally, the judges would like it to flow with the rest of the choreography and not appear to be a set pattern (even though it is).

Rhythms: Teams may choose one or two additional rhythms from the following: waltz, tango, foxtrot, and quickstep.

Required elements: Junior required elements include a lift, twizzle sequence, no-touch midline step and an optional lift. Senior required elements include a lift, twizzle sequence, no-touch midline step, optional lift and a combination of steps and turns from known pattern dances.

Music: Teams will choose their own music, however it must be within one to two beats of the prescribed tempo.

The goal of the ISU is to “modernize” the compulsory dances, making them more appealing to general fans (ala “Dancing with the Stars”). In addition, the ISU would like to get the ice dancing competition down to two days, like pairs, singles. In looking at the general bullet points, it’s apparent that the CDs will live on in some fashion as incorporated into the short dance; but if this idea doesn’t work, it’s expected that all remnants of compulsory dances could completely disappear in the following season.

The immediate impact will be felt by those junior-to-senior teams who wish to compete at the junior level internationally but senior nationally, as it would require additional planning, choreography, ice-time, coaching, and financial resources. Obviously, this is a much bigger hurdle than just having to add the 30 seconds to the free dance. (A junior free dance is 3:30, a senior 4:00.)

The bright side is that the pattern dances will still be competed at the lower levels, something crucial to the development of young ice dancers. Also, junior and senior teams will no longer have to shell out cash for compulsory dance costumes every year (although by the time they reach the senior level, most teams have costumes from previous programs that they could use).

Granted, we could see a major upset at the Congress in Barcelona and the changes may not be passed as expected. For those fans of the CDs, this would be the time to put on your lobbying rally caps and let your voices be heard. Save the Silver Samba!