Ice dancing is a discipline of figure skating that draws from ballroom dancing. Athletes can compete either as pairs or sometimes as an individual in solo ice dance competitions. Ice dance differs from pair skating by having different requirements for lifts and spins. Couples must perform spins as a team in a dance hold, and throws and jumps are disallowed. Another distinction between ice dance and other skating disciplines is the use of music in the performances. In ice dancing, dancers must always skate to music with a definite beat or rhythm. Singles and pair skaters more often skate to the melody and phrasing of their music, rather than its beat. This is severely penalized in ice dance.
Dance emphasizes the techniques of edgework, flow, and motion. Ice Dancing has 2 main focus areas:
In compulsory dances, skaters are given a very specific pattern to follow. This pattern is shown in the form of a drawing which specifies the skater's moves right down to which foot is doing what particular step during every single "beat" of the music. Dancers are marked on their ability to skate the required pattern with demonstrated musical feeling.
In free dances, skaters get to make up their own "programs", within specified guidelines. These programs must demonstrate basic dance elements and steps in a musical, but not "theatrical" way. No jumps are allowed.
The test structure for dance includes tests in compulsory dances, as well as free dances, and includes the following levels:
In 2011, the US Figure Skating Association launched a Solo Ice Dance Competition Series, which has expanded the discipline significantly.
Dance is one of the skating disciplines where age is no barrier. Many adults and senior adults nationwide enjoy this discipline for both its athletic value and its social aspects. Additionally, many skaters ice dance as a supplement to the freestyle discipline to improve footwork and artistry in their sport.