Finding the Right Program Music in Figure Skating

Music plays a fundamental role in figure skating, as it gives the skater a chance to bring out their artistic side. The right music combined with the right choreography can at best offer an enduring and memorable experience for the spectator.

There are practically no requirements for the music within the bounds of the official rules. Every series has a different length requirement, but otherwise the skater is free to make their own choices. The exception to this is the short dance in ice dance, which also sets a requirement for the rhythm of the music. The theme of the short dance changes yearly. The freedom of choice within music has lately been revolutionized by the inclusion of vocal music.

"Finding the right music is a challenging process. Naturally the music needs to meet the skater on both a technical and an artistic level, without being too big for their level", says international figure skating judge Mika Saarelainen. From his work as a reporter for years, Saarelainen has gained experience and opinions about the music world. He wishes skaters would use music more bravely and with more variation, ranging from classical to hip-hop.

Synchronized skating has already taken brave steps in using and interpreting different kinds of music.

“Especially the ladies discipline could use music more bravely. As a good example of this, I would mention Kiira Korpi, who brought a little bit of twist into women’s figure skating in Finland, by choosing just the right musics.”

Oftentimes both spectators and figure skating folk themselves are amused by the music choices made by skaters. Sometimes it feels as if the skating family only has one playlist from where musics are chosen. Carmen, The Four Seasons, West Side Story and The Phantom of the Opera all belong on the all-time favorites list.

“I wish that we could slowly get away from the idea that “this is the way things have always been done, in the past as well as in the future”. Skaters and coaches fall back year-after-year on certain music choices, thinking that these have worked before so they will work again. It would be good to move forward already, as the world is full of music”, Saarelainen says. He also hopes skaters would use music professionals for the composition of music, as the ice rink setting always brings its own challenges to music use.

Saarelainen reminds us that after all “Figure skating is more than just the sum of its parts. However, it is from these smaller parts that we make the whole composition”.

Text: Ninni Toivonen

Translation: Milla-Marjaana Ihalainen

Picture: Antti Lehto

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