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It’s all about grace, technique and rhythm when Dr Ashe Mooney of Malvern Vet Hospital in Armadale and Seeing Eye Dogs Australia in Kensington, both in Victoria, is ice dancing.
“Ice dancing is like ballroom dancing but with ice skates. Figure skating is where the man throws the woman into the air and there are lots of jumps and spins. In ice dancing there’s no jumps but an intense focus on footwork. I’ve been competitive ice dancing with my dance partner, Owen, for the past nine years.
“Owen started out as my coach and as my skills improved, we decided to become skate partners. I’m also a figure-skating coach so we’re able to do a degree of self-coaching and then have a third person come in and give us some pointers.
“We only take part in local Melbourne competitions as it’s difficult for me to travel while I’m working as a vet. One type of competition is called pattern dance where there are set steps that are performed to particular pieces of music. Free dance lets you choose your own music and design your own dance. There are rules on the length of the performance, and certain elements must be included in the routine.
“During training, we just wear normal active wear but in competitions, costumes are flashy, colourful and expensive. The judges are looking to see if you’re executing the steps correctly in a clean way. All movements should be smooth and elegant. There’s also a technical component and an artistic interpretation that considers flourishes and facial expressions. Your team should look comfortable as you dance.
“I don’t really compete for trophies; it’s more about moving up to the next level. It’s a bit like moving through the different coloured belts in martial arts. Competitions tend to be seasonal, but it’s a year-round sport. Some of my training is off ice, doing pilates or weight training to build strength. On ice, training is focused on technique and skating with my partner. We try to meet up at least once or twice a week and skate together.
“When I’m ice dancing, I love the feeling of being weightless and gliding along. Even though I’m a bad dancer off the ice, there’s something about wearing ice skates that changes things for me. I feel much more graceful and fluid. It’s a lovely feeling to be skating on the ice.
“Ice dancing is so smooth, flowing and gentle on the joints, age is really no barrier. It hurts when you start but once you build up some confidence and get over the fear of falling, it’s great fun.”