British and World Professional Champion and a World and Olympic coach. Former National Coach of Denmark. A principal performer in numerous ice shows all over the world including “John Curry’s Ice Dancing” on Broadway NY, and “Theatre of Skating” at the London Palladium. She has appeared in TV specials, touring Galas and commercials world wide. She has studied contemporary dance and worked with some of the Worlds leading choreographers and has choreographed for several International champions including “Two World Professional Champions.” In addition, she has lectured on all aspects of figure skating, at “National and International Seminars” for both skaters and coaches. She has produced and directed her own International Skating School in the UK called “Skate of the Art” with the world famous Rafael Arituniun for seven consecutive years. She specializes in the latest physics and aero dynamics in skating techniques. She focuses a great deal on expression and style in her choreography and has written several articles for skating magazines on these subjects. She specializes mostly in singles, both on and off the ice training. She moved to the USA several years ago and has been awarded the PSA Level 7 ranking and holds a BA in sports science.
Lorna Brown’s “SKATE of the ART”
I started dancing at the age of three and started skating at the age of nine. I competed for 10 years representing Great Britain internationally at the senior level and then competed professionally winning the British and World Professional Championships. I performed in all different kinds of ice shows performing as a principal skater. I continued with classical dance classes wherever I was and as I matured also studied contemporary dance, mostly in the style of Martha Graham. Afterward, I finally went into coaching and choreography.
I have choreographed for numerous national champions (about 45) as well as for several International medalists including two World Professional Champions. The experiences I had working with John Curry’s ice dance company has left an everlasting impression on my ideas about ice skating. I had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest choreographers of all time, including Robert Cohan, Peter Martins and Kenneth MacMillan. After a few years and three major successful shows with John’s company in London and New York, I had a serious ankle injury and was unable to rejoin him in the United States.
After my recovery I auditioned for “Starlight Express” and was picked out of 60 people to join the show, but turned it down due to the fact that it had a high injury risk. Afterward I was invited by Carlo and Christa Fassi to be their choreographer in Colorado Springs, but turned that down as I was going to be too far away from my fiance. I ultimately ended up being Denmark’s national coach and the 1988 Olympic coach. I spent fourand-a-half years in Copenhagen and had a great run with Lars Dresler, Henrik Walentin and Michael Tyllesen until 1989 when my Father became sick and had to go back home. Several months later my father died and Lars had been diagnosed with HIV. My partner was tired of my travels and so I settled down to working again in my home country through coaching, choreographing and doing workshops and seminars. It was a sad time though, as I lost my father, John Curry died, and Lars died of HIV a couple of years later. I decided to remain close to my mother until she passed away in 2000. During which time I did a lot of choreography in the UK and gave workshops and talks for The National Ice Skating Association. of GB and the British Ice Teachers Association.
In 1999 I went to Lake Arrowhead to work with British Champion Tamsin Sear on her programs I had choreographed. While I was there, Frank Carroll invited me to work at his summer camp in El Segundo, then called “Health South”. I loved it there and hoped one day to return. I applied for my Green Card six months later on my return to the UK, and within two years I was back in the USA and started coaching at The Skating Edge, Harbor City, and Los Angeles where I have been ever since. I specialize in the latest physics and aero dynamics in skating techniques and I focus a great deal on expression and style in my choreography. I have written several articles for skating magazines on these subjects.
I specialize mostly in singles, both on and off the ice training but love choreographing ensemble pieces. I have been awarded the PSA Level 7 ranking and hold a B.A. in Sports Science.
Being connected to AIT and The Importance of Dance education in Skating
It is wonderful to be connected to American Ice Theatre and the leading artistic dance on ice companies such as: Ice Theatre of New York, The Next Ice Age and Young Artists Showcase. All of who are encouraging the creative side of skating which is to me the most important. Without creativity the mind is like it is dead, because the mind is not what we call stretching its imagination. The importance of dance education in skating is vital to keep it alive. Now the problem in competition is that there are too many rules which inhibit the skaters, coaches and choreographers. Of course there must be rules but the extent they are at now is overwhelming, and the quality of skating loses out because everything is too rushed. This is especially noticeable in the younger and lower level skaters who are able to move quickly but when they mature this is not so easy and quality is underdeveloped. How can an audience, which skating needs so badly, understand why one person beats another making so many mistakes while speed and strong edges are mistaken for artistry. Of course there has to be both, but can’t have one without the other. The brain needs to be both analytical (problem solving, ability, skillful, etc.) and Aesthetic (art, l’art pour l’art – art for art’s sake). In philosophy, aesthetics is the study of beauty and taste, whether in the form of the comic, the tragic or the sublime. Aesthetics has traditionally been part of other philosophical pursuits like the investigation of epistemology or ethics. However, it started to come into its own and become a more independent pursuit under Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher who saw aesthetics as a unitary and self-sufficient type of human experience. So there is a lot of evolving to do yet. It is up to those who have discovered this wonderful part of creativity who must share it and educate others.
From the beginning of a skater’s career a skater should be building up a repertoire of various kinds of steps and movements as well as jumps and spins. It is so easy for a skater to become predictable and stereotyped. Especially now! We are missing that personal individuality in the performances of today because it is all about the marks. When judges and the like are just adding up and counting how can they grasp much else with so little time to make up their minds to give an accurate mark? There has to be a certain something extra to single out the performer! It is easy to be average. You really have to work hard to achieve originality and to be unique. Creative people use who they are and what they have learned and experienced to inspire themselves to create new ideas. These people are individuals who are comfortable with themselves but who also realize their imperfections and thrive on achieving excellence. They continually search for new ideas by attending the ballet, shows, art galleries and anything that will inspire them in life to develop themselves. It is those who dare to be different who are remembered and who leave an everlasting impression.
What is a good program? It is one you will never be able to forget because it was “unique”! Every performance should be like a finely tuned instrument in perfect pitch but of course perfection is always infinite.
Skating is one of the greatest disciplines of mind, body and spirit. A competition program is a “performance” and should not only contain an interesting variety of elements but should also be original, well structured and choreographed. It should make a statement about the person performing it. There are a great deal of skaters who are naturally creative and who have natural talent around to inspire them. The majority still have a great deal to learn, and need guidance with music, costume design and choreography. The initial impression when performing is obviously based on presentation and image. Unfortunately these two characteristics are frequently not distinguished. Skaters are often dressed with precision, right down to the last rhinestone but with very little relevance to the subsequent performance. Costumes are sometimes over decorated. One has to be skilled in a wide variety of visual tricks. Instead of trying to draw attention to the dress, one should be complimenting first the skater’s body lines and movement and of course the character and mood of the music. The skater should always be striving for what are called the “three components of success” which I believe are appearance, music and content. One is not good without the other.
Figure Skating is Related to Dance
Figure skating is more akin to the world of dance, which has to be the most refined form of physical movement ever developed. The meticulous physical details in dance movement far surpass most other forms of physical activity in any other sport or form of exercise. Dancers are athletic and flexible. They jump, lift and rotate, just like skaters do with amazing grace, refinement and control. Dancing, by itself is not recognized as an Olympic event or classified as a sport as we are, because it is not, and neither is skating really? But then again I see gymnasts now wearing beautiful outfits and using music and choreography. Even other sports are becoming more stylish in what they are wearing to express themselves.
I feel skating needs to be learned in a similar kind of structured way as dance! As figure skating develops it does so both artistically as well as athletically. We have to concentrate on the basic refining of the purity of movement, whatever the element may be. Our aim is to create a more articulate and coordinated skater, with increased awareness and ability to control more aspects of their performance with expression, creativity and style. We still need more seminars to develop the critical understanding of choreography itself. The judges are in a position where they have to give a mark for choreography although this is a very subjective area. A positive decision must be made to arrive at an accurate mark. Human beings will always be influenced by their own personal taste. We all like different music and different appearances, but we must appreciate why the skater chose that music and respect their feelings for it.
A Figure Skating Competition Program is a “Performance”
To move in a beautiful way you must learn about your own body. One must strive to have total awareness of self being. To combine all those intricate skillful jumps with pure art is sensational! By structuring your movement you are making it more visible. In addition, it is not always necessarily the degree of difficulty that determines the success of an artistic element but rather something extremely simple that is immensely effective. Sometimes you can come up with something new and exciting quite by accident. Creative ideas usually happen incidentally rather than intentionally. “Improvisation” is always good to encourage feeling for music, self expression and confidence. If the skater learns to improvise early on, it will last throughout their entire life. Creativity gives us pleasure and acts as an antidote to the monotony of every day life and lets the vivid and risky ideas that flow from your creative nature join up with your logic to give a new slant to your thinking.
John Curry developed a series of formal and informal exercises, designed to develop the skater’s overall artistic and potential in relation to technical expertise. During these kind of exercises, done in a class situation, there can be an emphasis on the more artistic, aesthetic and emotionally expressive aspects of skating. Skaters are encouraged to develop their own creative abilities through the invention of new movements, based on the taught exercises which is the way it is done in the world of dance.
About Visual Imagery
We must never underestimate the power of visual imagery. Einstein is a great example of this; he was able to use his mind creatively and instinctively, allowing his subconscious to produce the potential of his dreams. He didn’t work it out, sitting at a desk with a pen in hand. This opening of himself enabled him to evolve and to discover the theory of relativity. To be truly great at anything we have to develop both sides of our brains. You often hear comments on television, “They have great technique but need more choreography’. It is only because this side of them has not been encouraged and developed and not because it is not there! Why do people think that because an artistic person is therefore not able to be technical or vice-versa? We have to develop analytical and aesthetic thinking. Leonardo da Vinci was another example; he was not only a painter and a sculptor but an engineer and an architect as well. “Life keeps changing shape and shifting right underneath us, so the only part of us that can stay relevant is the part that can dance. And in this way, dance is the universal rhythm of survival, and of that which we experience in wanting to stay connected to life at its core. (Marc Fawzi)
As ice skating is and always will be quite subjective, it would be better for the sport if one could be assured that we were all being effectively trained and qualified to grow as coaches, choreographers and judges in order to assess the more subjective aspects of skating today. We need more workshops and seminars to develop our critical understanding of our artistic sport.
We need to create a communal spirit in the creative side of skating today. American Ice Theatre, Ice Theatre of New York, The Next Ice Age and Young Artists Showcase are going in the right direction to build a communal spirit in the artistic and creative world of