The Next Ice Edge

The Next Ice Edge Class

The Next Ice Edge refers to the on-ice warm-up practiced by The Next Ice Age skaters. 

The practice entails skating in formation – in blocks of three or four – down the length of the rink, with the goal of maintaining the original formation while performing a specific edge exercise.  The technique used by each skater to maintain the formation is known as “birding,” which is to match the speed, curve, line, and lean of the formation’s leader. Because the formation follows a side-to-side “S” pattern as it travels down the rink, the lead skater actually changes from moment to moment.

Although the exercises have changed and developed over time, the common elements are:

Lean – the angle of the body over the blade with respect to the ice
Line – the extension of the body from toe to fingertip
Edge Quality – the part of the blade the skater is skating on (i.e., inside or outside edge), and the direction the skater is skating (i.e., forwards or backwards)
Speed – the skater’s velocity, both in absolute terms and relative to the other formation skaters
Carriage – the skater’s overall posture and alignment

The Next Ice Edge is the building block of ensemble skating performance, similar to how ballet class is foundational to developing dance technique.  It was a mandatory part of John Curry’s daily routine, and when The Next Ice Age was hired by Dorothy Hamill to help choreograph some of her productions, she made class mandatory for her skaters as well.

The following video and pictures show Artistic Director Nathan Birch leading class at The Gardens Ice House October 30th, 2010 (also see our Events page for upcoming open rehearsal dates, where you can watch class in person):

Three skaters maintain formation

Nathan Birch leans through a turn

Nathan Birding with a student