One of the most frequently heard comments on ice dancing -- especially the compulory dance -- is "boring". The music is played over and over, and the couples skate the same steps. It's ballroom on ice. The compulsory dance skated in the Olympics a couple of days ago was the Tango Romantica, so the music provided by the International Skating Union was a tango. Actually, the music was rotated so more than one tango was used. The other compulsory dance selected for the 2009/10 season was the Golden Waltz, which was not drawn for the Olympics.
The second part of the ice dance competition is the Original Dance. The ISU selects the dance rhythm or rhythms and the character of the dance, then couples select their own music within those requirements. The Original Dance functions like the short program in singles and pairs, with required elements which must be skated. But, in the Original Dance, those elements must be skated to music of the selected rhythm and character. This year, it was folk or ethnic dance which represented a specific geographic area, and American "country" music was acceptable. While some couples chose the folk music of their own countries, others branched out. The top couples performed dances representing Spain, the Indian subcontinent, Australian aboriginal culture, and Moldovia.
The third part of the ice dance competition tonight is the Free Dance. Pretty much anything goes as far as music -- as long as the music lends itself to skating and interpretation. Long gone are the days of the Free Dance being waltz-polka-foxtrot or tango-samba-paso. Free dance looks like pairs except that there is much greater flow in the footwork, couples skate holding on to each other in various "dance holds" much of the time, lifts don't have the full arm extension of pairs skating, and ice dancers don't have to worry about those pesky doubles, triples and quads.
The last major competition to use this year's selected dances and rhythms will be Worlds. Then the couples will begin to prepare for next year when the compulsory dances will be the Ravensburger Waltz or the Finnstep (a quickstep), and the Original Dance will be skated to dances of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. And, as always, the Free Dance will be to music of the couple's choice.