Believing that the world of skating deserves a platform for movement exploration and the inclusion of subject matter not found in competitive skating, the co-founders established Canada Ice Dance Theatre in 1976. What Ron Vincent, Mary Rose Thacher Temple and Frank Nowosad wished to accomplish was a fully professional company of artists, not composed of "stars" but of ensemble players who are able to work in a variety of styles according to the needs of choreographers. In general, we have worked toward a more "plastic" style in keeping with the inherent plasticity of the curving skating "edge".
Part of the impulse to create CIDT came at that time as a reaction to the general lack of artistry in skating. (There have, it should be understood, throughout the history of skating, always been skaters who were artists but they were largely the exception). Since then television has introduced skating to new audiences and has driven it to higher levels of professional entertainment. But this is all within the "star" system and within the rather narrow and arbitrary parameters of Singles, Pairs, and Dance.
Is this how life is divided? Singles, Pairs, and Dance? Perhaps the answer is sometimes, but not always! What about other interesting relationships? Ensembles provide a whole new range of possibilities.
The expectations an audience holds when formed by competitive skating may require a big shift when watching an ice-theatre performance, especially when it comes to jumping. In CIDT, jumps are seldom done for their own sake (unless it is in a show-off piece) but to serve some greater choreographic purpose. As with jumps, speed too becomes an option but a requirement, but slower speeds can be disconcerting to the inveterate competition watcher. Competitions have trained its audience to see skating in ways that ice theatre now asks to be seen differently. The late Tim Brown often used stillness and slower speeds to create dramatic effects in his works for CIDT in ways that are quite wonderful. As long as glide is present and integral to the piece it can with legitimacy claim to be skating and not a direct substitution for dance or drama on the stage. Don't get hooked on speed as a fundamental requirement!
It has been heartening to the founders to see companies such as CDIT spring up first in New York under Moira North, a Canadian ex-patriot, and later too another company in Baltimore. There is a movement afoot here, perhaps out of a yearning within some skaters and coaches to see skating grow-up and become the basis of a mature theatre. Help us hang on to the vision!
Ron Vincent Artistic Director