39. Program Construction

Without doubt, at this point you have sufficient ability to construct a program of continuous free skating that will give you a thrill to perform. More important, it will give a great deal of pleasure to those who watch you. Once a small degree of mastery is attained, skating should not be an introspective, self-centered exercise. It has inherent qualities of theater, and these you are now ready to explore.

First you must choose music. For your "maiden" program, choose something essentially simple, melodic, and with marked rhythm. Above all, choose something you like. A record of two to two and a half minutes is enough for now.

From the variety of spirals, spins, jumps, spread eagles (I hope!), and dance steps you have learned, choose only those you know you can do well. There is no pleasure for anyone in a dis­play of half-mastered maneuvers. Listen to your music until you know every nuance before you begin to compose the program. There are certain established principles of good composition that you must know and use, but beyond them the sky's the limit. Use your ingenuity to the full.

Even the simplest program must have pattern. You must have a good opening and a good closing—in other words, a good first impression and a good last impression. That is rule number 1. So decide the two moves you do the very best; allocate one to the start and one to the finish. How you work them in will de­pend of course a good deal on the arrangement of the music.

The rest of your specialties should be spread throughout the routine, woven together into an artistic patterned whole by means of dance steps and well-posed edges. You should utilize the whole ice surface (unless you are on a large pond, of course), neglecting neither one end nor the other nor the middle. Diagonal moves and center figures that move across the ice lend variety and should not be neglected. It is boring to watch a skater moving always in one direction. You can gain interest, too, by varying the tempo of your moves; some may be slow to contrast with the speed of most of the program, but they must always be in keeping with the music. In a rink with a barrier make sure all your moves stay within easy sight of all the specta­tors. Don't dance too close to the sides or to the ends, or some­one is sure to miss part of what you are doing.

The main thing is to present your program and yourself as well as you can. Remember you are yourself, an individual not quite like anyone else; so your performance must have the stamp of your individuality and personality, your own, not quite like anyone else's.


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