Ten Basic Figure Skating Steps Every Ice Dancer Should Master

Glossary of Ice Dancing Terms

Figure skaters interested in ice dancing should learn how to do swing rolls, progressives, twizzles, and other ice dancing steps.  Below are ten basic ice dancing steps that every ice dancer should master.  

01
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Progressive

Olympic Ice Dance Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Do a Progressive
Olympic Ice Dance Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Do a Progressive. Photo by Rick Madonik - Getty Images

A forward progressive and a forward crossover have some similarities, but are different steps. In a crossover, the new skating foot is placed over the old skating foot. In a progressive, the new skating foot must be first placed next to the skating foot and then should slide over the old skating foot.

02
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An Ice Dance Team Does a Chasse Together
An Ice Dance Team Does a Chasse Together. John Patriquin - Portland Press Herald - Getty Images

A chasse is an ice dance step where a skater first strokes and extends. Then, the skater brings the feet together and lifts the other skate slightly off the ice. More »

Olympic Ice Dancer Do Slide Chasses
Olympic Ice Dancer Do Slide Chasses. Photo by Al Tielemans - Getty Images

A slide chasse is similar to the basic chasse ice dance step, but instead of the free foot being lifted slightly off the ice next to the skating foot, the free foot slides in front and is extended. More »

04
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Swing Roll

Young Ice Dancer Perform a Swing Roll
Young Ice Dancer Perform a Swing Roll. Photo Copyright JO ANN Schneider Farris

A swing roll is an ice dance move that looks much like an outside or inside edge that is done on a half circle, but the free leg is almost always extended. At the midpoint of the half circle curve, the free leg swings through. The skating knee is bent at the beginning of the swing roll, and then becomes completely straight as the free leg swings through.

05
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Dance Mohawks

An Ice Dance Team Does Forward Inside Mohawks Together
An Ice Dance Team Does Forward Inside Mohawks Together. Photo Copyright © Jo Ann Schneider Farris

In a mohawk, ice dancers turn from either forward to backward or backward to forward and change feet. The feet placement of ice dance mohawks must be neat and tidy.  The can be done from inside to inside edge or outside to outside edge.  

There are two basic types of ice dance mohawks:

    • In an open mohawk the free foot is placed on the ice at the instep of the skating foot before the turn is made.  After the turn, the new free foot may be place right next to the heel of the new skating foot or may be extended.
       
    • In a closed mohawk, the instep of the free foot is first held at the heel of the skating foot before the turn is made. After the mohawk turn is made, the new free foot is comes in front of the new skating foot.
    06
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    Dropped Three Turns

    Olympic Ice Dancers Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski Do Dropped Ice Dance Three Turns
    Olympic Ice Dancers Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski Do Dropped Ice Dance Three Turns. Photo by Robert Laberge - Getty Images Sport

    Three turns in ice dancing are sometimes called dropped three turns since after an outside three turn is executed, a skater's weight is immediately transferred, or dropped, to what was the free foot on to a back outside edge.  Dropped three turns are done over and over again in the European Waltz.  

    07
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    Waltz Three Turns

    Ice Dancers Waltz Togehter
    Ice Dancers Waltz Togehter. Photo by Matthew Stockman - Getty Images

    Waltz three turns in ice dancing are different than dropped three turns since the instep of the free foot draws in close to the heel of the skating foot as the turn is executed. Before and after the three turn the free foot is almost always extended.   

    08
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    Cross Rolls, Cross Rolls, Cross Steps, and Cross Behinds

    Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada - 2010 Olympic Ice Dance Champions
    Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada - 2010 Olympic Ice Dance Champions. Photo by Matthew Stockman - Getty Images

    In a cross stroke, the free foot first is placed on the ice next to the skating foot on an inside edge and then "splices-crosses" in front or back of the skating foot without being lifted off the ice and then changes to the outside edge and becomes the skating foot. As the outside edge of the skating foot becomes the free foot, some power is gained.  

    It is important for new ice dancers to understand that there is a difference between a cross stroke and/or cross step or cross behind since a cross step crosses over or under the skating foot while the cross stroke makes a splicing motion and gains power.  

    When the free leg swings after a cross stroke, the move is called a cross roll.  Cross rolls look very similar to swing rolls.

    09
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    Choctaws

    Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar of Turkey compete in the Ice Dance Free Dance during 2014 ISU World Figure Skating Championships
    Alisa Agafonova and Alper Ucar of Turkey compete in the Ice Dance Free Dance during 2014 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. Photo by Atsushi Tomura - Getty Images

    A choctaw turn is made from one edge to a different edge, from forward to backward or backward to forward.  The difference between mohawks and choctaws are that mohawks are done from same edge to same edge, but choctaws can be entered on an inside edge and exited on an outside edge, or be entered on an outside edge and be exited on an inside edge.  Like mohawks, there are open and closed choctaws.

    10
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    Twizzles

    Ice Dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis Perform Twizzles
    Ice Dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis Perform Twizzles. Photo by Koichi Kamoshida - Getty Images

    Twizzles are multirotational one-foot turns that move down the ice. There is a difference between twizzles and spins since twizzles travel and move down the ice while spins stay in one place.