One of the things I love most about synchronized skating is watching a story unfold through movement on the ice. It turns out that expressing stories, ideas and themes through music is as old as time.
Former Burlington Ice Image choreographer Aimée McKenzie, who holds a Master’s degree in Ethnochoreology from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick in Ireland, sees it this way: “The history of movement can be traced back for as far as you can imagine, yet the reason for movement varies from culture to country, from family to community and from beliefs to traditions. Taking a concept out of its home and expecting a skater or skaters to convey the depth of movement or complexity of emotion can be a big ask. Curating the concept with the right piece of music, stylizing the movement to make it feasible on the ice and costuming the skaters with all of this in mind, is key to conveying the theme.”
For Dress Wright Synchro’s owner and chief designer Deanna Wright, “Being able to take the vision of the coaches and choreographers and translate it into a costume for a team is immensely satisfying.” It can’t be easy when the theme is historical or otherwise specific. “The research is part of the fun. It’s fascinating to be able to figure out the items that define a look and incorporate them into the costume that adds to the authenticity,” said Deanna.
The same can be said for the choreography. Aimée weighs in on the challenges of developing a program with authentic cultural references. “Authentic cultural references, taken out of their medium need to be respected and placing them onto blades can have its limitations. Subtle movements and transitions within the body change drastically when they are taken out of their original space and placed in an arena where the goal is to show the emotion of the piece as far up as the cheap seats. Storytelling is much easier to grasp for a group of skaters and an audience, cultural identity is much more challenging. When movement is culturally based, it comes from a lifetime of watching, learning and living it; expecting a group of skaters to embody the movement in the same way in the short space of a skating season takes a lot of work and commitment to explore, create and personify its authenticity. This, along with costuming helps marry the mood, which in turn helps to convey the idea with the hope to engage with the audience and judges”.
You see? Synchronized skating is and always has been the perfect union of theme, music, choreography and costuming.
Synchronize Your Watch
I picked this program because its theme is clearly identified, supported by both the costuming and the choreography. Take a look at the Helsinki Rockettes in this fan favourite program:
Team Up! with Dress Wright Synchro: Deanna says that inspiration can be found everywhere. If you are at bit of a loss, help and ideas are as close as the Dress Wright Gallery found here. Don’t forget to check out our dresses that were created along themes that can be the starting point for your team’s look. Check out our catalogue here (pages 16 – 30) for our selection of dresses.
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