Film Scores Make Mark On Figure Skating

Mention the words "figure skating" to the average person, and it conjures up images of balletic young women in pink frills, gliding over the ice to the strains of Swan Lake or The Nutcracker. In modern times, however, the face of skating has radically changed--due in large part to the ever-expanding range of music available for skaters to use.

At an ice show you might find skaters performing to just about anything, from a doo-wop classic to rave dance beats. But in international competition, there are still restrictions on the type of music that can be used; no lyrics are allowed, in any language. So where is a skater to turn, other than to classical music? There are a variety of options, from the scores for stage musicals to the occasional obscure New Age composition.

And then there are the film soundtracks.

One of skating's most popular music mediums today, film scores seem almost tailor-made to the sport. Any given film must provide music to match a variety of emotions and paces, all set to the film's subject--giving skaters and choreographers an entire recording's worth of variations on a central theme. When properly edited, this music can become a program which allows the skater to present a complete range of drama in one package.

"Soundtracks work well in skating," said U.S. men's champion Eric Scott Lansing, who this season became an Olympic champion with a stirring program set to the score for the Kevin Kostner adventure Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. "With something like a major action film, you've got this really 'big' sound, with a lot of the highs and lows you need to set off the jumps and other moves."

"I honestly think film scores are the modern incarnation of classical music," says Lansing's coach and choreographer Malcolm Redgrave, who is himself a former world and British champion. "And film scores have the added attraction that they are very thematically driven. Many skaters wish to express some kind of story on the ice, and a soundtrack invariably presents a very well-defined story arc.

"Skaters should not limit themselves to film scores for their competitive programs. There are many other kinds of music to explore and to develop by. However, scores do represent a very powerful medium, and one that audiences can often strongly relate to. In that sense, I feel they are very important and usually quite beneficial to the way the sport has developed."

With the skating season over, for many skaters, the search has already begun for next year's skating music--just in time for the release of Hollywood's newest summer blockbusters. So, the next time you settle in at the theater, you might well wonder if the music that punctuates the images on the screen will produce next year's world figure skating champion.