Friday, February 13, 2009

Is This the Last Tango?

March-April 2008, PS Magazine

If rumors heard at Nationals are correct, the ISU is contemplating the end of compulsory dances at ISU events. Although I could find no written record anywhere, enough people in the know believe that it will happen. When or if it does, will that spell the end of compulsory dances as it did for figures everywhere else in the world? Piece by piece, skating’s identity is slipping away, one discipline at a time. But more importantly, who is deciding all these changes? I can’t imagine it is someone who knows anything about skating and our reliance on tradition. As it did with the elimination of figures, removing compulsory dance will only accelerate the gymnastic aspects of figure skating while destroying the artistry and maturity that sets our sport apart from most. With the possible removal of compulsory dances and the way current rules are written, dancers could easily compete in pairs as well. Sitting at Nationals this year I had to ask Robbie Kaine if I was watching the OD or Free Dance. I couldn’t tell the difference. If you take away compulsory dances, you might as well combine dance and pairs into one event… we could call it two people synchronized skating. Bob Mock and Carol Rossignol suggest that we put up to four teams on the ice at once during compulsories. Kind of a “Roller Derby” meets “Dancing with the Stars.” But seriously, this is not a knock at the IJS, nor dancers, pairs, or Synchro, but at the leadership of the ISU. I understand the need to accommodate the TV crowd by changing dates or schedules, but are we going to allow them to reshape our sport to such an extreme degree? These are the same small screen people dictating the direction of our sport that gave us Hee Haw. Comparatively, if the ISU is so concerned about appeasing television, why don’t they get rid of long track speed skating? Come on, they just skate in circles against the clock…tick…tock…snore! (My apologies in advance to Bob Crowley, Executive Director of US Speed Skating and former PSA Governor). TV didn’t want figures. Now they don’t want compulsory dance. All but the purest skating enthusiasts know that compulsories don’t sell more Campbell’s soup, but arguably, even American Idol shows the compulsory “a cappella” auditions. If someone doesn’t stand up at some point, we won’t be skating at all!

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