Short dance

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The short dance (SD) is the first segment in an ice dancing competition. It was approved by the June 2010 International Skating Union congress and instituted beginning in the 2010–2011 figure skating season. It merges the original dance (OD) and compulsory dance (CD), which were both discontinued.


Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir perform a short dance at the 2011 Four Continents Championships

The short dance merges the set pattern of a compulsory dance (renamed at the same time of this ruling to the pattern dance), and the previous rules of the original dance, i.e. requiring a set rhythm but allowing choreographic freedom within the constraints of required elements. In addition to skating two patterns, dancers also must include a step sequence, a set of twizzles, and a lift. Competitors are allowed to choose their own music, so long as it fits the required rhythm/theme.

With this change, ice dancing was shortened to two segments per competition: the short dance and the free dance. This mirrored the short program and free skating segments of single skating and pair skating.

Limited spectator interest in compulsory dances resulted in pressure from the International Olympic Committee to eliminate the compulsories so that the ice dancing competition would consist of two segments, like the other three skating disciplines.[1] However, many in the ice dancing community were opposed to completely eliminating them, seeing them as an essential technical basis and point of comparison, so the short dance was created as a compromise.[1][2]

The first short dance in international competition was skated by American junior ice dancers Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus, at the 2010 Junior Grand Prix Courchevel.[3]

By season[edit]


Season Required pattern dance Rhythms Details
2010–2011 Golden Waltz One or two of: Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, or Tango [4]
2011–2012 Rhumba One to three of: Cha Cha, Rhumba, Samba, Mambo, Merengue [5]
2012–2013 Yankee Polka Polka, March, Waltz [6]
2013–2014 Finnstep Quickstep or Quickstep + one or two of: Foxtrot, Charleston, Swing [7]
2014–2015 Paso Doble Spanish dance rhythms: Jota, Fandango, Flamenco, Paso Doble, Bolero, Sevillanas [8][9]
2015–2016 Ravensburger Waltz Waltz


Season Required pattern dance Rhythms Details
2010–2011 Viennese Waltz Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, or Tango [4]
2011–2012 Cha Cha Congelado Cha Cha or Cha Cha + one of Rhumba, Samba, Mambo, Merengue [5]
2012–2013 Blues Blues, Swing [6]
2013–2014 Quickstep Quickstep or Quickstep + one of Foxtrot, Charleston [7]
2014–2015 Silver Samba Samba or Samba + one or two of: Rhumba, Cha Cha, Mambo, Merengue, Salsa [8][9]
2015–2016 Starlight Waltz Waltz


2011–2012 season[edit]

In April 2011, the ISU published the rules for the 2011–12 season.[5] Senior-level ice dancers were required to skate two sequences of the Rhumba anywhere in the program, not necessarily one after another. Skaters were allowed to choose one to three rhythms from: Cha Cha, Rhumba, Samba, Mambo, Merengue. The range of tempo was 43 to 45 measures of four beats per minute (172-180 beats per minute) and had to be constant.[5]

Junior-level skaters were required to perform two sequences of the Cha Cha Congelado, skated anywhere in the program, one after the other. The pattern dance had to be skated on the Cha Cha rhythm, with the range of tempo from 28 to 30 measures of four beats per minute (112-120 beats per minute). The tempo had to be constant.[5]

Skaters were required to perform the sequences in strict time to the music, with step #1 of each sequence on a different side of the ice surface. Required elements included:

  • short lift
  • not touching circular step sequence (senior); not touching midline step sequence (junior)
  • one set of sequential twizzles

One transitional dance lift (up to 6 seconds) and a dance spin were permitted as part of choreography but not required. The ISU stated: "The concept and choreography must produce the feeling of a unified dance." Dancers were allowed a maximum of two full stops, not exceeding 5 seconds each, or one full stop, not exceeding 10 seconds. A separation may not be more than two arms length apart.[5]

2012–2013 season[edit]

In 2012–13, senior-level short dances included the Yankee Polka pattern dance, with Polka, March or Waltz rhythms.[6][2] Junior-level short dances included the Blues pattern dance, with Blues and Swing rhythms.[6] Juniors were allowed to use hip hop if the music had a clear rhythm and contained no obscenities.[10]

2013–2014 season[edit]

In 2013–14, senior-level short dances included the Finnstep pattern dance.[7]

2014–2015 season[edit]

In April 2014, the ISU announced a major change to the short dance. Unlike previous seasons, seniors will perform only one section of the required pattern dance and add a creative section to be scored according to key points.[8][9] For 2014–15, the required pattern dance is the Paso Doble and the creative section will be to the Paso Doble rhythm. Junior-level dancers are required to perform two sections of the Silver Samba pattern dance.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b Kany, Klaus-Reinhold (July 9, 2011). "The Short Dance Debate". IFS Magazine. Retrieved July 29, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Rutherford, Lynn (January 26, 2012). "Rink notes: Marley, Brubaker 'different team now'; Roll out the barrels". Ice Network. 
  3. ^ Brown, Mickey (August 28, 2010). "Team USA scores four medals at JGP opener". Icenetwork. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Communication No. 1621: Ice Dance". International Skating Union. June 24, 2010. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Communication No. 1670: Ice Dance – Requirements for Technical Rules – season 2011/12". International Skating Union. April 5, 2011. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Communication No. 1721: Ice Dance – Requirements for Technical Rules season 2012/13". International Skating Union. March 30, 2012. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c "Communication No. 1782: Ice Dance – Requirements for Technical Rules season 2013/14". International Skating Union. March 5, 2013. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Communication No. 1857: Ice Dance – Requirements for Technical Rules season 2014/15". International Skating Union. April 1, 2014. Archived from the original on April 2, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d Kany, Klaus-Reinhold (March 14, 2014). "New rules will change the look of ice dance next season". IceNetwork. 
  10. ^ Kany, Klaus-Reinhold; Rutherford, Lynn (February 29, 2012). "ISU bringing 'clean' hip hop to ice dancing". Ice Network.