How to Curtsy – Part 1 (Kate Charbonneau)

Coach Kate Charbonneau begins a short series on the technique and unwritten rules of performing a cursy or bow at the end of a skating performance. A curtsy or bow at the end of a performance is a gesture of respect and appreciation for both the judges and the audience response. As a way of helping skaters get comfortable with this, Kate suggests having skaters regularly curtsy or bow after a group or private lesson. This serves as a nonverbal and formal method of expressing thanks to that coach for the lesson in a way that is traditional in the sport. Kate demonstrates a relatively simple arm movement and head bow she recommends for this.

Next, Kate takes a moment to describe a process that young non-IJS competitors can use to quickly acknowledge the judges and audience without taking up excessive time at a competition. She recommends that they hold the ending pose for 3 seconds, then stretch and curtsy/bow in place, and then immediately skate off the ice. Kate also acknowledges that a curtsy or bow at this level is often not even necessary.

Traditionally at higher levels, a skater should always curtsy or bow to the judges first, and the audience second. Skaters who are competing in an IJS event should typically curtsy or bow, as they usually have the time at such events while the judges and technical panel finish their scoring (and the applause also typically lasts longer). In this case, the skater should skate strongly to the center of the rink where they curtsy/bow to the judges and then the audience before skating strongly from the ice.

Kate demonstrates a typical curtsy, with good posture, a turned out “free leg,” and hips tucked underneath. She suggests a “step behind” with the “free leg” with either one or both arms up, and then a small curtsy straight down with the hips tucked under. Some skaters do a slide or turn, but this is more flamboyant and time consuming, so it may not be appropriate in most situations. Kate reminds us that “the skater is performing from the minute they step on the ice” until the moment they step off the ice, in order to leave “a lasting impression for your audience and judges.”


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