July 4, 2010

Figure Skating & Ballet Class

I recently read a post on a forum by a beginner skater, asking if it was a given that to start skating it was necessary to start ballet.

There is no easy answer for this. Obviously a person who takes ballet class is going to have some preconceptions about how to hold and carry oneself, but this doesn't by any means make it a prerequisite for figure skating.
What level of skating are you hoping to achieve, what age are you, how invested in skating are you, and also (sadly enough) how much money have you got to spend on this sport? These are all questions you'll need to ask yourself when considering taking extra dance classes to improve your skating.

Artistry is becoming and more and more important and is very much recognised under the IJS system. But ballet training is not a necessity and each skater should assess her (his) own situation to suit. If you are looking to attain a regional level and started later on in life, skating recreationally, by all means take ballet class and this will probably improve your port de bras greatly along with many other elements of your skating. If you started skating early, and are highly invested in skating to an elite standard, chances are you already take ballet and won't be reading this post (!).

At the end of the day do whatever you enjoy doing. I took a few classes when I was around 11 years old, that lasted maybe 4months. I was tired from the hours I was putting into skating as it was, and coupled with the fact that I found the french names impossible to remember (plié, jetté, rond de jambe, anyone?), it didn't last very long. I don't think that was detrimental to my skating, as my facility has always lain with artistry and I always struggled with the jumps.

Many elite skaters do take ballet classes, but this doesn't mean it's right for you. They also weight train, off-ice jumping (for the figure skaters in any case, less so for the dancers) and most probably do core strengthening. There's no point copying Kim Yu Na's routine down to a T. It's been personalised to her body, her needs, her goals, and her personal situation.

So find out for works for you. Take class if you feel you want to, and stop if it doesn't suit. As with many things in life you don't know if you don't try, and keeping an open mind if often the best way to discover new experiences and passions.

Until next time, keep on dancin' !

1 comment

  1. Ice Girl takes ballet. She thinks that it helps her skating a lot, especially the artistry bit. I loaned the ballet school Annette Thomas' excellent Ballet for Figure Skaters book http://www.balletforfigureskaters.com/ and I think it helped her instructor figure out why Ice Girl carries herself differently from the other dancers.

    Great post!

    Ice Mom

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