Even though they perform with permanently flexed feet, figure skaters are still the ballerinas of the Olympic games. And after a long losing streak, America’s ice dancers have actually been doing pretty well lately. They won silver medals in 2006 and 2010, and this year’s dancers are poised to go for the gold in Sochi. The figure skating team was announced on Sunday. Here’s a rundown of the ice dancing pairs.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Davis and White are this year’s pair to watch. They won silver at the Vancouver games and are current world champions. Last weekend, they took first place at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, their sixth national championship win in a row. They’ve come a long way as partners, too. The team told Time that when they first began training together, “Davis was so shy, she found it hard to look White in the eyes. Their coach threatened to put a Post-it on young White’s forehead for Davis to focus on.”
Maia and Alex Shibutani
Get ready for plenty of chatter about the “Shib Sibs.” This brother-and-sister team won silver at the 2009 world championships and gold at the U.S. championships in 2010. “At the end of the day, it’s a performance,” Alex told Yahoo Sports. “We’re trying to tell a story. We’re trying to show something innovative from beginning to end.”
The Shib Sibs are also known for their funny YouTube videos, like this “Call Me Maybe” parody with fellow ice skaters at a recent competition.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates
This duo came in second behind Davis and White at the 2014 U.S. Championships. Bates is coming back from a cringe-worthy complete Achilles tendon laceration by skate blade in 2010. (Eek!) But, he told The Boston Globe, he’s grateful the experience led him to partner with Chock. “Once your health is taken away, you really feel it. Looking back now, I’m not glad that it happened, but it led to a series of events that led me to skate with Maddie and be here trying to take a shot at another Olympic team.”
We can’t wait to see what they bring to the ice in Sochi next month. We’ll also be keeping an eye on the rest of the figure skating team, which includes 15-year-old Polina Edmunds, among other up-and-coming talents.
Photos by Michael Kass, courtesy of Renee Felton
Starting this Saturday, the Children's Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side will have an interactive dance exhibit called "Let's Dance!" Basically every facet of dance is featured in the exhibit: kids can explore lighting design with a special child-friendly lighting box; choreograph with the use of props, signs and costumes; create accompaniment with percussion instruments; manipulate posable figures; see incredible dance photography and video; and, best of all, interact with the dance portal, where they can watch, learn and interact with professional and student dance companies like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dancing Classrooms, Mark Morris Dance Group and Martha Graham Dance Company. Whew. That's a LOT of great stuff.
Kathleen Kelbe, Pembroke School of Performing Arts | Pembroke, MA
Total budget: $100,000
Project timeline: 3 months (ongoing)
Kelbe expanded from 1,600 to 6,000 square feet. She used Rosco's SubFloor and Adagio vinyl and broke her extensive renovation into three phases.
Ellen Marshall, Off Broadway Dance Center | Fulton, NY
Total budget: $60,000
Project timeline: 3 months
Marshall renovated a Methodist church into a 4,000-square-foot studio, with Stagestep Flooring Solutions' marbleized gray Timestep in her two studios.
Diana Griffin, Fusion Dance Company | Palm Harbor, FL
Total budget: $40,000
Project timeline: 45 days
From restaurant to studio! The checkerboard ceilings were a restaurant leftover that Griffin decided to keep. Her O'Mara sprung floors were self-installed in her 7,000-square-foot space.
Barclay Gibbs, Dance Conservatory of Maryland | Bel Air, MD
Total budget: $10,000
Project timeline: 2 days
Gibbs chose Gerstung Floor Systems' AirBase 600 for her 2,000-square-foot studio. This semi-permanent flooring will travel with her, should she change locations in the future.
Nigel Burgoine, Ballet Theatre of Toledo | Toledo, OH
Total budget: $4,000
Project timeline: 1 day
In her work as director of physical therapy for New York City Ballet, Marika Molnar relies on tools like bands, balls and Pilates equipment to rehabilitate and strengthen dancers. She says there's a place for such tools in daily dance classes, as well. Resistance and stability tools can help students develop strength and even break bad habits. "Say someone is compensating because of a weakness or restriction—that's what they're always going to do," she says, even after a teacher corrects them repeatedly. "If you give them something that makes things a little unfamiliar, their brain has to participate more. It becomes not only a physical exercise but a cognitive one." The dancer learns in a new way, and improves.
Molnar has collaborated with Pilates expert Joan Breibart and PTs at Westside Dance Physical Therapy to create a series of tools and exercises with dancers' training and recovery needs in mind. Here, she shares three of her favorites.
Christy Wolverton had a student who often either missed class or seemed to be sick. "When you're in our pre-professional company, attendance is huge," says Wolverton, owner and director of Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, Texas. She tried to be patient with the dancer and communicate with her parents to get a better idea of what was going on at home. "When she was diagnosed with a serious illness," she says, "we were relieved that we didn't come down on her for something that wasn't her fault."
Laura Glenn can still remember the excitement she felt watching the Limón Dance Company perform at Central Park in the summer of 1962. "I turned to the person next to me and whispered, 'He's going to be my teacher!'" she says. Two weeks later, she started as a Juilliard freshman, where she indeed studied under the legendary José Limón before joining his company in her second year.