Bye Bye Compulsory Dance


Who doesn’t love to snuggle up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch three hours of compulsory dance? Hopefully no one.

The International Skating Union’s announcement on June 17, 2010 was a longtime coming. They voted to nix compulsory dance at junior and senior competition and will devise a plan to retool a short dance and free dance for this coming season.

Before this decision, the dance portion had three segments which consisted of the compulsory dance, the original dance and the free dance.

In compulsory dance, each dance pair would perform to a specified tempo, chosen by the ISU. The couple would incorporate different steps to the dances, such as a Rhumba, Golden Waltz, or – my favourite – the Yankee Polka. The compulsory dance had the lowest viewership for a reason. It was dry and dull to watch, and similar to watching compulsory figures. Interesting, at first, but then the novelty kind of died.

The Yankee Polka on paper. Source/ISU

So, is the ISU re-tinkering figure skating, again, just for their benefit?

When the ISU decided compulsory figures would be dropped at the senior ranks in 1990, an uproar ranged within the figure skating community. Some skaters and coaches, armed with their scribes and skate guards, tried to change the minds of the ISU. An argument of contention, the sport was called “figure skating” for a reason. However, in Russian and Polish and other languages, figure skating’s literal translation is “artistic skating.”

With the 1992 Albertville Winter Games around the corner, some skaters breathed a sigh of relief. They could focus on their flashy free skate rather than tedious figure eights.

No doubt, the decision to drop figures was difficult. And same with the choice to boot the CD. But is the ISU erasing an element of figure skating by removing the compulsory dance segment? I would say no. The elements from the CD are already incorporated into the other segments of the dance competition.

But I can’t remember the last time someone performed a forward-change-loop in their free skate program.

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