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

American Ice Theatre in Urban Pic Skate Competition

American Ice Theatre’s Anna Cobb & Garrett Kling perform & skate in “I Like the Way you Walk”

They are entered into a chance to win $750 and the top prize in the 2014 Urban Pic Skate Contest.

You can vote by liking their video on Pic Skate’s Facebook page and sharing it with your friends!

Ice Semble Chicago Celebrates New Talent in Spring Repertory

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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: http://www.ice-semble.com 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.
HOW TO BUY: http://www.ice-semble.com

Porter relaunches Ricky Harris Workshops

When Ricky Harris decided to settle down in the mid 2000s, the chapter in her illustrious career conducting global workshops for thirty-plus years closed. Looking through binders and binders worth of material gathered over the years, she decided a new chapter needed to open—one where a fresh voice could bring her workshops to a whole new generation of skaters learning the concepts and methods she devoted her life teaching.

“I felt that the workshops should be developing more and more,” said Harris, 91, who holds an M.F.A. in Dance and Ph.D in Choreography.

Harris began thinking about who could continue her workshops and use her extensive amount of material.

“I wanted to give all my journals to somebody who would really do something with them,” she added.

Harris decided the perfect candidate was someone she had mentored for almost 20 years, Jodi Porter, founder of the American Ice Theatre.

“There was something about her that I could see was just like me,” Harris said. “She is someone who goes in and accomplishes what she’s passionate about.”

Starting this month Porter will relaunch the Ricky Harris Choreography and Style Workshops by presenting the same material Harris taught by offering the necessary tools for skaters to develop their own distinctive style on the ice.

“I’m passionate about continuing her legacy,” Porter said. “I’m so excited we can bring these workshops back into figure skating at such a critical time for the sport where it really needs the artistic component to maintain and flourish.”

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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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