ACSFest 2018

35201887_10100675637065431_1244078186849894400_nWHOA. What a weekend!

I can honestly say that this time together was one of the most enriching moments of my skating life. There is something sacred about 60 people coming together, letting down barriers and vulnerabilities, and sharing space in harmonious movement on our favorite medium — the ice.  Continue reading


MCT Final Projects 2016-17

AIT is excited to congratulate 10 new Master Choreography Technique graduates over the 2016-17 season.

MCT is an advanced certified training program for coaches. It provides a deep learning experience in the process of TIME, SPACE, ENERGY, and FORM as it applies to the education of choreography. Whether you are developing high competitive or professional programs these techniques educate you in developing the ART of the sport. This program is intended for both the seasoned professionals and those looking to specialize in a career as a choreographer. Classes held on-line with lectures, demonstrations and choreography homework. Semester runs 18 weeks. 

Attached below are the final video projects of each grauate. The fall 2016 MCT graduates include includes Su Jackson Wagner (Knoxville):

Continue reading

Why Take an AIT ‘Mini-course’?

my-floor-barre-pics-300x300The new year is here! It’s a clean slate to stop procrastinating, get in better shape, and become the person you’ve always wanted to be!
Okay, all of those things we like to tell ourselves and then by mid-year we fall into a hole of self-pity because well, WE DIDN’T DO THEM.
But thankfully here at AIT, we’ve provided accessible ways to help those looking for improving their careers as a coach, teacher, choreographer and performer. The Ballet for Figure Skaters online mini-courses provided by AIT are a wonderful way to do these things. Here are just a few reasons why you should take a course.
  • Choose from an extensive variety of subjects. These include “Introduction to Ballet for Figure Skating”, “Introduction to Classical Ballet Pedagogy”, “Music Theory”, and “Choreography Basics”.
  • Taught by a master teacher. Annette Thomas has dedicated her life to the art of dance, choreography and pedagogy and has a passion for combining those with figure skating. She is classically trained at Carnegie Hall and the San Juan Ballet Company and tea
    ches ballet using the world-renowned Vaganova method.
  • In-depth college level classes that don’t dent the budget like a typical university course.
  • Individualized lessons in your own home at a time/day which is convenient for you. You set your own schedule with Annette and have the opportunity find the most comfortable place to take class over your own personal electronic device.
  • Each mini-course earns  AIT credits towards full “Ballet for Figure Skaters” teaching certification.

Check out this link for more information on finding the right class for you and how to sign up. You can email Annette at for further questions. Happy New Year!



2017 Update: Ballet for Figure Skaters releases digital DVD

I like to think of ballet and figure skating as friends. In fact, I would even guess they’re related — so let’s say they’re cousins. I can see them both having a great time catching up over casserole at the family reunion potluck. They commiserate over grotesque growths on their heels and ankles, share a laugh while executing a perfect split, and can hum the tune of the Nutracker’s Pas De Deux by heart.

16959_254096422578_1019100_nBoth ballet and figure skating require immense body awareness, balance, muscle control and strength. Yet there are obvious differences — such as surface area, climate and bedazzling sequins — that glaringly separate the two worlds. Ballet has long been a highly favored off-ice conditioning tool for figure skaters, but I believe more and more coaches are favoring other conditioning methods over ballet such as plyometric training due to the higher technical demands of the sport.

Unfortunately this mentality is a terribly misguided choice as correct ballet teaching provides a skater with the correct body alignment, positioning and strength to lower the risk of injuries. Ballet provides the foundation of movement and trickles out to every part of skating whether it be the body alignment and quick snap for going into a double axel or interpreting a piece of choreography with full body movement.

This is why I am so thankful for Annette Thomas and what she is doing to bridge the gap between ballet and movement on the ice for figure skaters. A dancer and choreographer for over 30 years, she has dedicated the past 20-plus years to educate the figure skating community on the most effective ballet curriculum for figure skaters’ specific needs. Her new “Ballet for Figure Skaters” digital DVD puts the first level of her curriculum onto the screen for skaters all over the world to see. Continue reading

Aliens, Animals & Artists of the Autostadt: A backstage pass to the German outdoor ice show

On any given night at the Autostadt, its ice show Urmel Aus Dem Eis presents all the ingredients of a professional production – effortless triple jumps, soaring back flips, high-flying bounce spins and fast-paced ensemble numbers. But this show is anything but ordinary.

Here you will find life-sized space ships, Tyrannosaurs Rex’s, meat grinding machines and remote controlled couches. You will see skaters as chocolate tortes and cherry souffles, pandas and parakeets, nuns and priests, runway models and bullfighters, farmers and Carnival showgirls, baroque waltzers and Star Trekkies.

And don’t forget, lots and lots of pyro.

Under rain, snow, sleet, torrential winds and even melting ice the outdoor show must go on. Located in Wolfsburg, Germany, the Autostadt is widely known for its museums of Volkswagen automobiles, but its ice show is the biggest attraction of the holiday season running until Dec. 28.

The entire experience is a whirlwind of rehearsals and performing. An ensemble of 22 skaters collectively learn 46 numbers over a three week rehearsal period in Bad Sascha, Germany. Stephanee Grosscup, the show’s choreographer, sometimes teaches up to four numbers per day in order to finish all the productions.

“We never let up. Everyone starts to get overloaded with steps and stories [however] these young, athletic, creative and talented skaters are a constant source of inspiration to me,” she said. “There is a spirit amongst [them] that is so unique. We are trained athletes first and foremost, but we are dancers, actors, characters, musicians, muses.”

Once they arrive in Wolfsburg, the skaters perform twice each day and open a new show every Sunday over four weeks. Installation for the following week’s show takes place late at night, often in less than favorable weather conditions.

“We have exactly five days [for installation each week] to clean and add huge props, attempt to get everyone through insane quick changes, add numbers to the show if necessary, drive cars, trains, helicopters, ride on fish, fall in ponds and wells, cast spells, have pyro on skates, disappear, reappear, be a dragon, walrus, panda, the list goes on and on,” Grosscup said, who is in her fifth year as choreographer. “In the end, it is over the top hilarity!” Continue reading

Dance2Ice Barre: Moves in the Field

AIT is all about bringing dance to ice.

The Dance2Ice Barre class teaches the foundational tools needed to apply full body movement to figure skating maneuvers. Once a skater has gained proficiency executing skills in the basic two-dimensional realm (linear movement), D2I teaches how to engage the core while moving through three dimensional space (using all levels of the body).

By learning this skill set, a skater establishes an entirely new vocabulary of movement as they gain body awareness and increased mobility. This type of movement is especially important as skaters begin leveled step sequences where they must use full body movement to receive their desired level.

Alongside AIT’s D21 curriculum (promo vid here), another aspect of the program is taking Moves in the Field patterns and revolutionizing them by applying these newfound principles.

In a Level 1 demonstration video below, skaters use a preliminary MIF pattern — the alternating backward crossovers to back outside edges.

Notice the skaters using their core to initiate the movement as they use all levels of their body with their arms, mid-section and knee bend. This not only increases the difficulty in performing the movement, but also adds interest to the audience witnessing the maneuver (a win-win for all involved!).

For some other demonstration demos, check them out here:

Level 2 demo:

Level 4 demo:

Have you tried these Dance2Ice exercises? What other MIF patterns can you make Dance2Ice style? Film your own today and we will feature them on AIT’s Facebook page!






How I applied to YAS and why you should too


Hey there! So you’re on the fence about applying for the Young Artists Showcase? I know the feeling. It’s that teeter totter scenario — one day you feel up for the challenge and believe the world can be conquered one choctaw at a time.

The next, you hit a rut and in a flash that confidence disappears as we belly flop into the water.


I’m going to be very honest with you: If you decide to apply, the roller coaster of emotions are only beginning.

Getting a school report card can be stressful enough, but this is as if your grades were posted all over the internet with professors, loudspeaker in hand, telling the world their opinions of your work.

YIKES! Holy freakin’ cow of milk. It can be scary.

But if you don’t get anything else out of my spiel, please get this: YAS is absolutely, entirely, and whole-heartedly worth every single minute. YAS has kickstarted a career so that I’ve gotten to do all of this:

My beginning into choreography has been a process of intense education, study and motivation. But it started in a lot of fear.

If fear of failure is holding you back, channel it into opportunity. Make it happen for yourself. Let the world see what you can do. One huge lesson I’ve learned from YAS is that fear can be as big or small as I let it — the hairy, mammoth monster waiting to chomp my head off or the house fly I flick away with my finger.

Now that my Oprah moment of motivational speaking is over, I’ve gathered three common responses people give for not applying to YAS and I’ll elaborate on my experience dealing with those same thoughts.

1) “I’m not going to apply to YAS because my work isn’t good enough.”

When I first heard about YAS, it was right before the first installment got underway in 2010. Since being a youngster, I had always wanted to create on the sheet of ice I called home. Discovering that there was a competition for skating choreographers was the most thrilling opportunity of a lifetime. I knew this was the gateway into the world I had always wanted to enter into. Except there was one wee little minor issue: I missed the cut.

Here’s where that word comes in: FEAR. Meaning the hairy-mammoth-monster kind of fear. Suddenly a slew of thoughts went through my head and back out like a continuous flow of projectile vomit. Cue in the sob story vocal track:

“Maybe I am not made out for this?” “I just don’t have enough talent.” “My opportunity just isn’t going to come.” Cry me a river, etc. etc. etc.

After the sob story and a few visits to Dr. Phil, I decided to do something about it. I made myself learn more about the choreographic process, get mentored, and learn from others. Having ideas were never the issue for me – it was about learning the translation of those ideas onto the ice. It fueled inside me a new passion to organize my philosophy, thought process and work ethic.

So if you don’t think you’re good enough, realize that you probably never will. It’s that perpetual motion of false perception where we need to “feel” like we are good enough in order to do something. That’s all a lie the hairy, mammoth kind of fear tells us. Strive to get better because that’s the only way to move upward.

2) I’m not going to apply to YAS because I can’t handle the criticism.”

When the time came for YAS2, I was beyond excited. I promised myself I would take the opportunity and was thrilled to get selected as a contestant. The competition itself was a whirlwind of emotions and placements. One week I won a challenge, the next I was near the bottom. One challenge I got five stars from a judge and two stars from another. And it’s all happening via YouTube, the most public forum possible.

The worst criticism will come from yourself. After posting a challenge, a flood of thoughts would overwhelm me on ways I could improve this or that. I would over-analyze and psyche myself out. But let your criticism fuel your progress instead of being a detractor.

When you get criticism from a judge, take it all in — the good and the bad. I used to look at challenges I scored poorly on and get down on myself, but now I take a different approach. I look at every single challenge as a stepping stone. Getting feedback every single week from a different panel of judges with varying backgrounds, lenses and perceptions is truly educational. Every week I was challenged on the way I viewed choreography.

Know that every challenge will change you. You are an artist constantly evolving. And that’s really the goal isn’t it? To be able to continually create, learn and mature in our craft.

3) I’m not going to apply to YAS because I don’t think I have the time for it.

I decided to do YAS3 because I knew I wanted one more chance at it with all the education I had been getting. I took more dance classes, took MCT, studied all types of choreography and continually kept creating myself to keep ideas flowing.

And I got organized.

I finished runner up and feel like a large contributing factor was simply being organized. You’ll never feel like there’s enough time to do a challenge and often times unforeseen circumstances will bite at the last minute, but be prepared for all scenarios. Get your talent lined up, have at least three ideas for each challenge as a back up, appoint video people, start talking to your rink about ice time, etc. There’s a lot that goes into it, but in my experience most people are cooperative when they realize what a cool thing YAS is.

So I hope I’ve convinced you to take the plunge and apply. Take a risk — YAS teaches you how to do that pretty quickly. When you take a risk, we have to throw away that fear, so flick it off with your finger. There’s an entire YAS community waiting to usher you in and we promise we won’t let that hairy, mammoth monster of fear get near you.

Ice Semble Chicago Celebrates New Talent in Spring Repertory


Ice-Semble Chicago continues its tradition of bringing the arts on the ice by presenting its spring repertory 7:30 p.m. on Thursday May 2, 2013. The company will present its program at Winnetka Ice Arena at 490 Hibbard Rd. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Ice-Semble web site: or at the door.  General Admission is $15.00 for adults and $12 for children 5-12 years old.

Ice-Semble, led by Artistic Director Liz Mc Shane Beberdick, continues its collaborations with American Ice Theatre founder Jodi Porter. Several new choreographers will produce works for the 2013 season featuring pieces such as “Swimming” by Eve Chalom, “Into the Night” by Garrett Kling, “Leaving Again” by Ellen Mills and returning favorite choreographers including Porter debuting “Once Again?”

Chalom, former Ice Theatre of New York company member, joins for the first time this season debuting her contemporary Philip Glass trio piece “Swimming.” Kling, a 2012 Young Artists Showcase finalist, will present a jazz-infused large ensemble piece entitled “Into the Night.” Mill’s piece called “Leaving Again” is a work in two movements set to the music of Kurt Elling. Porter will debut a percussive contemporary piece called “Once Again?” featuring Chalom, Kling, Katherine Hill and Sean Marshinski.

The 2013 Ice-Semble ensemble includes: Hamidah Ahmad, Jill Aybar, Madeline Aybar, Eve Chalom, Agata Czyzewski, Ola Czyzewski, Megan Eurenius, Meah Helfand, Katherine Hill, Garrett Kling, Sean Marshinski, Liz McShane-Beberdick, Tracie Miller, Ellen Mills, Katrina Nelken, and Jodi Porter.

The performance is sponsored in part by Allegro Dance and sanctioned by the United States Figure Skating Association.

WHO: Ice-Semble Chicago presents
WHAT: Spring gala
WHEN: Thursday, May 2nd at 7:30pm
WHERE: Winnetka Ice Arena, 490 Hibbard Rd in Winnetka, Illinois
WHY: A chance to see Chicago’s premiere ‘art on ice’ company presenting an evening of ensemble skating at its best.

TICKETS: $12 TO $15

Buy online for advance ticketing discount or at the door.