How To Become an Ice Dancer

Young Ice Dancers
Young Ice Dancers. Copyright © Jo Ann Schneider Farris

Ice dancing can look easier than single or pair skating, but actually, can be more difficult. It takes quite a bit of preparation to be able to do free dance, which is what most young skaters interested in ice dancing want to do. Figure skaters must first learn some ice dance basics and master and pass compulsory dance tests.

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Difficulty: Hard

Time Required: Becoming an excellent ice dancer does take time.

Here's How:

  1. Master all the figure skating basic skills.

    Take either group figure skating lessons through a U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills program or through an Ice Skating Institute program.
  2. Take an ice dance class if your ice rink or club offers one.

    This is a good way to introduce yourself to ice dancing and meet others interested in ice dancing.
    1. Some of the first ice dances you might learn in the classes include the Dutch Waltz, Canasta Tango, and Rhythm Blues.
  3. Learn how to stroke like an ice dancer and learn how to do swing rolls, progressives, and chasses.

    Do each of these moves alone first. Then, if possible, skate with a partner. Learn the various partner positions that are part of ice dancing and learn to skate with a partner in those positions.
    1. Work on doing everything both forward and backwards. Master three turns and mohawks.
    2. Skate with your head up. Bend your knees as much as possible and make sure your body position is erect.
  4. Do some stroking to music of various tempos and rhythms.

    Skate to waltzes, foxtrots, tangos and other ice dance rhythms.
  5. Purchase your own ice dance music.

    Listen to ice dance music in your car. Try to hear the beat and count. Learn to keep time to music. Learning to play an instrument will help any ice dancer.
  6. Learn the steps to the beginning compulsory dances and to some of the other dances too.

    Skate with partners if possible. Practice as much as you can.
  7. Pass ice dance tests.

    Private ice dancing lessons from a qualified coach are required in order to properly train for ice dance testing.
  8. Get some competition experience as an ice dancer.

    Compete in both solo and partner ice dance events.
  9. Once you begin to pass tests, set some ice dancing goals.

    For example, to compete in Juvenile Dance, you must be under sixteen years old and have passed the Preliminary Dance test. You must also have passed the Juvenile Moves in the Field test and the Juvenile Free Dance test.
    1. If you are too old for the Juvenile ice dance events, read the U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook to understand what events you may qualify for. Pass the tests that will make you eligible to compete at a certain level.
  10. You and your partner should find a choreographer to help set a free dance program to music.

    Watch other ice dancers do free dancing. Get ideas for music and choreography by watching other ice dancers perform. Even the costumes that are worn for free dance performances are important, so don't only work on choreography, but work on costume planning.
  11. Practice with your partner as much as possible.

    To advance in ice dancing, you and your partner should skate together daily. As time goes on, expect to practice at least two hours a day and to do some training off the ice.
  12. Join the Ice Dancers Forum so that you can learn about ice dancing from other ice dancers from all around the world.

    The Ice Dancers Forum will put you in touch with ice dancers from everywhere. You will learn about ice dance weekends, about techniques, where to find music, and be in touch with many, many people that love ice dancing.
  13. Purchase and study the Learn to Ice Dance DVD from

    Also consider purchasing and reading the ebook How to Become an Ice Dancer from


  1. Although ice dancing does not require doing triple jumps, it still involves mastering all the basics of figure skating.

    Take the time to master all figure skating basic skills at the same time as you work to master ice dancing.
  2. Ice dancing is much more fun if it is done with a partner.

    If at all possible, look for partners in untraditional places. Females may have to recruit hockey players or even non-skaters as partners. Let as many people as possible know you wish to find an ice dance partner.
  3. Don't expect to look like the ice dancers you see on television immediately.

    For two people to perform as one does takes some special effort. Don't expect to become a champion at ice dancing immediately.
    1. To get to that level of ice dancing takes several years.
  4. It is possible to "make it" in ice dancing even if you begin figure skating a bit late in your life.

    A teen that sets his or her mind to ice dancing and works hard, can possibly compete at the top level in ice dancing. Adults can compete in ice dancing for years and years. Some adults compete or test in ice dancing at a very old age.
  5. Dance for fun when possible.

    Skate on social ice dance sessions or attend ice dance weekends if possible. Skate to music whenever possible.

What You Need:

  • Figure skating basic skills
  • Musical ability
  • An ice dance coach
  • Ice dance music CDs
  • A U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook that includes ice dance patterns
  • A partner if possible
  • Other ice dancers to skate with and learn from