Black Lives Matter.
It’s been a summer of movement and motion; awakening and action; grief and sorrow. As an organization, AIT affirms its commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement, taking a stand against systemic and institutionalized racism that has perpetuated our community, including the figure skating community, for too long.
Figure skating is historically a sport of privilege. Its affordability, accessibility, and elitism has created a system where marginalized people do not have equal opportunity to participate. As a community, we must do better. American Ice Theatre is committed to actively learning from BIPOC how racism and white supremacy continue to exist in society as well as engaging in the long-term work required to help create change in skating.
Those of us in leadership at American Ice Theatre humbly acknowledge that we have not been doing enough in the fight for racial justice. We are encouraged, like so many, to more actively pursue this work, stand with and support BIPOC, and strive to be an active voice of change for the figure skating community as a whole.
We Embrace Diversity & Inclusion
AIT is committed to providing more opportunities for skaters of color through our events and educational opportunities. We are very excited to be working closely with members from the U.S. and Canada to create the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance, and we plan to collaborate with their steps of action moving forward. We are eager to announce more information regarding this soon!
We have put together a list of resources to learn about BIPOC in the figure skating community. This includes organizations, podcasts, articles and videos. This is a live document that will continue to be an ongoing list. If you would like anything to be added to our racial justice education document, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Donate to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute
Over the month of June, AIT donated portions of our virtual class proceeds to the Marsha P Johnson Institute, an organization that protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people. Black transgender women in particular statistically face the majority of violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. Learn more about Marsha P Johnson and donate to the institute.
We Support Black Owned Businesses in Skating
Brampton Hill Skating Academy (BHSA), founded and directed by Acacia Hill, is the first black-owned figure skating school in Canada. The main goal of BHSA is to create a safe space for minority figure skaters of color to train and provide more representation in the sport with a diverse coaching staff. They are asking for donations to solidify a permanent residence at the current ice location that is being rented, support initiatives that will encourage minority and colored skaters who are interested in getting involved in the sport, and fund elite skaters of color to come train and inspire their athletes.
The Princess and Her Frog is an Etsy Shop owned and operated by professional skaters, Mariyah and Peter Gerber. They create personalized items and gifts that promote diversity and inclusion in figure skating and beyond. Currently, they are selling masks with the logo, “Skating is for Everyone,” in addition to individualized figure skater journals.
We Want Policy Change in Skating
Asher Hill, a former international ice dance competitor in Canada, experienced and witnessed acts of racism, bullying, homophobia, misogyny and abuse by a co-worker while training and working at Skate Canada Brampton Chingcousy. His official complaint in June 2019 was denied. The Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance’s petition on behalf of Asher Hill demands include:
1. We demand that Asher’s Case is reopened.
2. We demand that Skate Canada hires their own third party investigators to do the investigation.
3. We demand that Skate Canada removes Asher’s Letter of reprimand on his file.
A Summer of Virtual Events
AIT will continue to provide a summer filled with virtual events to keep you dancing, learning, and exploring in your home!
Virtual CORE Camp
Due to COVID-19, AIT is transitioning CORE Camp 2020 to be a fully virtual event Thursday, July 23 – Saturday, July 25. This summer virtual artistic figure skating training camp from American Ice Theatre will help skaters develop the “Mind-Body-Movement Connection” in keeping with AIT’s values. Expect a variety of off-ice classes from our world-renowned coaches and choreographers; check out their information on our Virtual CORE Camp webpage!
Coaches & Adults Free Workshop Series
Throughout the summer, AIT is hosting its inaugural Coaches & Adults Workshop Series. These virtual education classes offer a platform for experts in the fields of choreography, dance, movement, yoga, mindfulness, and mind / body awareness practices to share their knowledge with skating coaches and adults. By offering this variety of practices, our virtual summer series takes a deep dive into artistic skating education.
Join AIT Chicago Company Members, Katie Soraghan for “Strength & Stretch” on Thursday, July 9, and Kayla Grayson for a Contemporary Choreo Combo on Thursday, July 16. No registration necessary for the AIT Chicago “Pop Up” classes, but there is a suggested donation of $10 per class paid via PayPal directly to email@example.com.
Throughout July, AIT NYC will continue to offer “Sunday Funday” classes with AIT NYC Director, Chiquita Limer, and AIT NYC Company Member, Ziad Khedr. Ziad will lead in the first 30 minutes of each class with aerobics and strength, followed by Chiquita who will guide us through a contemporary choreography combo. *Special Class Only for Adults* on July 26! There is a suggested donation of $10 per class paid via PayPal directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
AIT-Certified Choreographer, Joey Millet, has accepted the role of Assistant Director for AIT MSP for the 2020-21 season. After relocating full-time to the Twin Cities, Joey will assist AIT MSP Director, Garrett Kling, with choreography, management, and planning for both the Junior and Senior performance companies. Joey was an AIT MSP Company Member in 2019-20.
Join Joey for the Monthly AIT Virtual Series on Friday, July 10 at 12:30 pm ET / 11:30am CST where he will teach a choreo combo.
27 states and 14 countries were represented at the #ACSFest2020 on June 13 while over 100 people gathered together for virtual, off-ice, contemporary skating workshops ranging from the creative process, meditation, improv techniques, and mindfulness movement.
Special shoutout to all of our presenters for the Festival this year – we are so honored to have some of the most prestigious contemporary skating companies join us from around the world. Take a look at some of the skating companies and their educational sessions: Ice Dance International, Ice Theatre of London, Ice Theatre of Stockholm, UNFREEZE Contemporary Festival, The Next Ice Age, Namaskate, Entertainment on Ice, Calgary Ice Cinema, and IceDanceTheater-Fusion.
Congratulations to Ariel McCoy, 20, of Crofton, MD for being selected as the winner of the 2020 Quest for Creativity! Ariel has been awarded a travel stipend to showcase her work at the 2021 American Contemporary Skating Festival in Boston. Check out her winning submission as well as the other six pieces from young choreographers all over the U.S. and the judges’ feedback. Ariel was chosen by a Q4C’s star-studded judging panel including Yebin Mok, Alissa Czisny, Tommy Steenberg, Cordero Zuckerman, Laura Seal, Ian Lorello, and Maja Luther.
Congratulations to Stefanie Olbort of Zurich, Switzerland for being the 2020 recipient of the Ricky Harris Scholarship Award!
In memory of Ricky Harris, American Ice Theatre sponsors an annual scholarship award for skating choreographer-entrepreneurs who wish to pursue leadership in contemporary skating as well as learn, teach, and perform as a part of the AIT Mentorship Program.
Stefanie Olbort made her professional dance education in Zurich and Munich after finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Sport Science in Bern. As a dancer and choreographer Stefanie is part of two creative dance collectives in Switzerland, Éolienne in Bern and DOXS based in Schaffhausen. After her former career as a professional figure skater she performed with Art on Ice in Switzerland and Sweden and has maintained a strong connection to the figure skating world which led her to contemporary skating. She will complete her Master’s degree in Dance Choreography from the University of the Arts in Zurich this summer. Stefanie lives and works in Zurich, where she teaches contemporary dance and creates choreographies for figure skaters.
In addition to receiving this prestigious award, the annual winner will receive a $500 travel stipend for AIT educational opportunities so the award recipient can further their education, gaining a deeper understanding of contemporary skating entrepreneurship, by presenting at a local AIT satellite seminar, performing with AIT at the U.S. Open, teaching as a guest presenter and/or counselor at CORE Camp, and sharing insights, performing, and/or choreographing at the American Contemporary Skating Festival. Stefanie will join AIT for these events in 2021.
Congratulations to our Spring 2020 graduates of Master Choreography Techniques!
Check out their bios and final projects on our MCT Graduates blog post.
Missed Any of our Classes over Quarantine?
Check out our AIT YouTube Channel playlists where all of our past AIT Virtual Series & 20 Minute Combo Classes are available for viewing! We are excited to continue these classes as our Monthly Virtual Series on the second Friday of each month moving forward.