Sunday, February 4, 2018

Remember To Talk To The Ice

Last night, I got to go to what the Boston skating community knows as an Underground. Adam Blake, who choreographs everything from Ross Miner, to the Haydenettes, to Disney on Ice, to our entire TOI program, puts them on occasionally. Usually held pretty late at night, he comes up with a dance combo for us to learn, and then we take it to the ice. He does a lot of hip hop in his choreography, so these combos usually have a lot of that, too. After we officially learn and practice it on the ice, we alternate doing it all together, splitting into big groups, and splitting into small groups. He films all the different groupings, and eventually pulls them together into a video. 
As we were warming up on the ice, he turned out the lights and set tea candles on the boards all the way around the rink. He told us to listen as we skated in our own space, without acknowledging other people, and take some time to talk to the ice. 

When you're in a relationship, he says, you can't ignore your person for days and weeks at a time, and then come home and expect everything to be fine. You need to talk to them. You need to show them you're grateful for them and excited by them. You can tell them when they make you nervous, or even when you're mad at them. You need to tell them when they're the reason you're happy.

It's the exact same thing with the ice. Adam said, that as we get busy coaching or choreographing or fulfilling contracts or even just doggedly training every day, we can forget to keep talking to the ice. And then, we're surprised when it doesn't talk back! To keep skating accessible to us, to bring our truest, strongest, most creative selves to the rink, we need to keep talking to it. 

It's not like I'm competing at the Olympics. But even while preparing for tests, local competitions, and auditions, it can be easy to loose sight of what I love about skating. With the pressure to check off accomplishments and rush to get things done, it's very easy to not take the time to think about what you're doing out there. When you're hustling to run your program, practice all your jump passes, and train your spins, it's easy to go a stretch of days or weeks when you skate a lot but don't make anything new. 

The best part, is that talking to the ice doesn't require a lot of time. You could make up new spin combinations, or funky arm variations. You could try doing different tricks into your jump entrances. You could put yourself through your own warm-up edge class with footwork patterns you create, or on empty sessions, put on music and allow yourself to do some improv. Talking to the ice is just like playing: it could be doing Showcase duets with a friend, doing knee slides across the ice, or even making a point to perform more in every program runthrough. 

Skating is an intense sport that requires a lot of physical ability and hard training. But it's also a performing art. Our programs aren't stagnant, they're living and breathing, and they're different every time we skate them. While it's important to be a great skater from a technical viewpoint, we can't ignore the fact that what we're doing out there is art. So it's worth it to look up. Perform. Understand the story you're trying to tell. And give yourself the room to create something that's honest, and that you're proud of.

Saturday night was an absolute BLAST. Thank you, Adam, for the incredible opportunity to do stuff like this. Feeling extra inspired and excited to catch up with the ice tomorrow.

Be the grittiest!!
xoxo Gillian