ICE

Ice

has been a friend of mine for as long as I can remember. Stubbed my big toe? Place an ice pack around it. In the mood to prank my sister? Slyly drop ice down her back. Drinking lukewarm Coke-a-Cola? Put ice cubes in the cup.

I learned early in my life that ice was always a solution.

Naturally, at the age of nine I figured that actually skating on ice would be a good solution for my exuberance, creativity and my epidemic disorder of “having-way-too-much-energy-for-my-parents’-own-good.”

As I made my first steps onto the ice, I failed to notice the warning signs put up in the arena that read, “BEWARE. ADDICTION TO ICE MAY OCCUR AS A RESULT OF SKATING. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING.” Thank goodness I forged right past it because I discovered that the ice is not only a solution, it is a sanctuary.

Ice is something that seems relatively easy to describe: slippery, hard, wet, cold…emphasize the cold part. But when you really experience what it’s like to glide on the ice, it truly transcends reason. I guess you could call it physics, but I call it miraculous.

The ice becomes a sanctuary when you stroke across the rink and your blades carve the ice with perfect ease. The ice becomes a sanctuary when you skate so fast you can’t help but think invincibility is a mere possibility. The ice becomes a sanctuary when you step onto it and all of a sudden all the crap you may be dealing with just goes away.

If people don’t get what I’m saying I have an analogy. Think of the reason why people enjoy going for a run: It’s a way to stay active, get the blood flowing, and an outlet to recharge. Whatever fuzzy feeling you get from the endorphins released by running can be multiplied by 1 million and BAM— That’s what it feels like to skate.

Not convinced? I may be bias as a skater myself, but one day I will conduct a highly scientific study that will prove my theory that skating is just good for the soul.

I guess all I know is that something about the ice is sacred. It rises above the concept of the here and now. The ice allows us to move in such a way where time actually feels like it stops (case in point: running a 4.5 minute long program can actually feel like an ETERNITY. NO LIE). The way we glide, skid, turn, twist, jump, carve, slide, and spin just doesn’t feel like time has any part in it.

Yet what is also so fascinating about the ice is that there is a component rooted in time. Just like Shakira said about the hips, the ice doesn’t lie. Every glide, step, and turn is carved into the ice providing a report card for every single thing we do. Moving across the ice may feel as though we are Superman, but the edges etched onto it remind us that we are still Clark Kent.

I’m not sure if anything I said remotely made any sense (re-read this post at least four times today and it should start to sink in…slowly), but I don’t think it has to. The ice and I just have a special connection that doesn’t have to be explained. It has seen my vomit and my sweat. It is a dear friend to my rear end as they  meet up with each other frequently.

But most of all it is the most personal place I go to unwind and to wind myself up. It is where I go to feel. It is where I go to imagine. The ice is a sanctuary and all are welcome.

Chalom Finds Improvisation a Way of Life

“The best thing to do is find a certain movement that feels good or that’s fun to do and just keep playing in it,” she said. “You just keep letting go of judgment along the way.”

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The moment Eve Chalom steps onto a sheet of ice, her body is instantly at peace.

“I will let my body do what it needs to find that flow,” she said. “I will just go with my instincts about whatever movement I want to do and will continue to give me a sense of grounding, relaxation and ease.”

A former world ice dance competitor and three-time U.S. national medalist, Chalom spent her childhood years perfecting routine after routine, memorizing body positions and tracing ice patterns. While her time on the ice used to be dictated by detailed workouts and program run throughs, nowadays Chalom has rediscovered her love for skating in an entirely new format. More than 10 years after her competitive days, she has found liberation through a journey into improvisation.

Improvisation has not only transformed the way she perceives and practices her craft in skating, but it enabled her to find a new perspective on life. Currently conducting a Chicago internship for a master’s degree in dance therapy at the Pratt Institute, Chalom now understands the somatic and neurological processes that go along with improvisation that she believes are essential for a figure skater’s development.

“I think people who end up getting hip surgeries in their 20s didn’t learn how to feel free and empowered in their own body,” she said. “It’s learning how to use their weight to do things. It’s all body awareness and feeling different timings and rhythms.”

Chalom’s first taste in improvisation occurred at an audition in 2006 when Chalom lived in New York City pursuing a dance career. Feeling as though her body became paralyzed and tense upon the director’s request to improvise, she diagnosed that large amounts of tension had built up inside her body since the age of four after being hit by a car. The accident caused her to lose most of her hearing in both ears.

“I realized that there was a part of my body that was frozen in a way from the impact,” she said. “I had compensated and covered up for it while managing to do everything in my life in the midst (of the accident). That was something that made me more afraid of life.”

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