Meet Club Ice Dancer, Teresa Garofalow!

Fifteen year old Teresa has worked hard and earned an invitation to the 2013 Solo Ice Dancing Nationals! Congratulations!  We are all so very excited for you. 

Teresa, you are familiar to many of the Club skaters as a Freestyle skater.  When did you become more interested in Ice Dancing? My very first coach, Danielle, taught me how to express myself on the ice while learning basic skills and I became hooked on the beauty of the sport. I did not realize then, but she taught me to appreciate the artistry and poise of ice dancing.  During the years I spent as a competitive free skater, I always thought about ice dancing, but having invested so many years in free style it was a hard crossover to make.  At one point, I took a few months away from the sport, came back and quickly decided I needed to give ice dancing a shot.  My freestyle coach supported me and offered me the perfect ice dance coach. My ice dance coach understood my love for skating, my love of music and dancing, and my issues as a freestyle skater. We started slow, learning patterns and stroking, but the strong foundation of skating skills and a work ethic that my freestyle coach gave me allowed me to excel quickly as a dancer.

 What is the difference between solo Ice Dancing and standard Ice Dancing? A partner! In solo dance we skate our level of patterns that we qualify for and/or a free dance event. It gives ice dancers a chance to still be able to compete competitively and qualify for a national event even though they have yet to find a partner.  There are ice dancers who love ice dancing solo and choose to make this their primary focus and never seek a partner.

What does training for Ice Dancing look like? The test requirements for dance begin with passing pattern tests starting with preliminary patterns moving up 7 levels to the gold patterns.  Each level has 3 dance patterns .Partnered ice dancers need to pass free dance tests in order to compete similar to the testing system in place for freestyle skating tests, using the corresponding moves test as the prerequisite.  In solo free dancing, your level is based on your moves in field level and your last pattern test level.

What are some of the unique aspects of competing? In the pattern events, you compete two of the three patterns you have been working on. At Nationals, if you make the final rounds it is the third pattern. The total of the two dances determine your final score.  You cannot pick your music patterns, you hear it at the event, and so timing and knowing the beat counts are super important. In the solo free dances, we have required footwork, edgework, long edge holds, short edge holds, spins and twizzles! Posture, timing, change of tempo and interpretation of the music are all necessary for a successful skate. The most unique aspect of the solo dance series, which does not happen in any other discipline of figure skating including partnered ice dancing,  is that our qualifying season starts from our first to last competition. It is not set up with regionals, sectionals, or nationals qualifying season. It is more like a baseball or football season.  Your season’s “points” or “record” gets you your invitation to Nationals.  In addition, you can qualify for both pattern and free dance events or just one of them. I have been invited to compete at both the Pre Silver Pattern Dance event and the Novice Free Dance this year. Boys and girls, ladies and men, are all in the events together.

We are all so proud of your achievements this past year.  What advice might you give to other skaters interested in ice dancing? Thank you! Skaters interested in Ice Dance should definitely give it a try. While the physical challenges are different, the same amount of dedication and hard work is necessary for success.  Free skaters spend countless hours perfecting their jumping skills while on a different rink at the same time ice dancers are working their edges and perfecting the art of the dance. Musicality is the ice dancer’s double axel. While I enjoy both disciplines, ice dance has given me a chance to take all the skills taught me by both my free skate coach of 7 years, Craig Maurizi, and my new coach Galit Chait-Moracci and put it to free dance!