Solo Dancing within the Desert (Half II)

by Anne Calder

In our last installment of the Dancing within the Desert sequence, we meet Abigail Dalsin, Shakshi Wagh and Maria Gonzales. 

Abigail Dalsin is seventeen and will likely be a senior subsequent semester at Desert Vista Excessive Faculty in Phoenix, Arizona.

IDC: Inform me the way you turned concerned with skating.
Abby: My household is from Minnesota, and so they’re all into hockey. I used to be three after I first skated. It was on an out of doors rink. After that I attempted hockey, however I didn’t just like the stick, so I ended up simply skating. I took Study to Skate classes. I labored with two coaches, after which I added on ice dance. I turned concerned with it simply earlier than Covid occurred. We had been type of stepping into it once we had a break. I began competing the primary 12 months after that.

IDC: What do you want greatest about Solo Dance?
Abby: I like ice dance as a result of it’s extra in regards to the choreography and never simply the talents. After all, there’s like twizzles and ranges and factors, however I like how its extra about model, and it’s enjoyable. It’s much less nerve-racking. It’s extra about feeling the music.

IDC: Do you additionally do Synchro?
Abby: I did when it first was beginning right here, however It was an excessive amount of of a time dedication with dance and free skating. It was enjoyable. I just like the group facet of it.

IDC: What different hobbies do you could have moreover skating?
Abby: Skating does take up most of my time, however I like baking. I stress-bake earlier than competitions. This morning I introduced dwelling baked muffins.

IDC: What’s your favourite skating reminiscence?
Abby: We do Christmas packages yearly. My greatest buddy used to skate right here earlier than she moved to Korea. We did a duet. It was when she was simply studying her axel, so we put one in this system. She couldn’t do all of it week, however in this system, we each landed it. It was like we had been completely in sync. It was similar to a lift of vitality. The facet of doing it along with your greatest buddy was such a great feeling altogether.

IDC: What’s your skating purpose for this season?
Abby: I wish to go to Nationals this 12 months for Mixed and for Patterns. I wish to get private bests and do good packages with no deductions. I wish to do higher than final 12 months.

IDC: You additionally do Shadow Dance with Maria Gonzales. Inform me about that.
Abby: It’s an amazing group sport. That’s what I like about ice dance additionally. Marie and I are pals, so It’s pure we skate collectively. We skate equally. It’s simply a number of enjoyable.

IDC: There all the time appears to be a lot camaraderie amongst the Solo Dancers.
Abby: That’s true. Once we go to competitions there’s all the time a cheer group on the sidelines. In comparison with freestyle skating it’s extra of a supportive sort of feeling along with your teammates reasonably than stress. Maria and I compete in opposition to one another in mixed, however I by no means felt it was poisonous in any manner.

Shakshi Wagh is an 18 12 months previous latest Paradise Valley Excessive Faculty graduate who will likely be attending school in Florida this fall. In 2019 she added teaching on the Ice Den in Scottsdale to her skating resume. Her 13 year-old brother additionally took the Study to Skate classes, however now performs basketball.

IDC: How did you change into concerned with determine skating?
Shakshi: My dad and mom had been born and raised in India and didn’t develop up with any winter sports activities or snow round them. Sooner or later after having lunch at a restaurant close to the Scottsdale Ice Den, we had been simply strolling round and noticed the rink. It was a brand new idea for my mom.  She had by no means seen something prefer it or knew folks labored out on the ice. I used to be six years previous when she signed me up for “Study to Skate” courses.

IDC: What led you to Solo Dance?
Shakshi: I initially was taking courses to spherical out all my primary expertise. Then I went into non-public classes with Veronica Wargo, a coach on the Scottsdale Ice Den, [which is closer to my home in Paradise Valley than the rink in Chandler.] She grew up as a present performer and ice dancer. She introduced me into sample dances initially. I bear in mind strolling out my canasta tango along with her in off-ice courses. After figuring out my preliminary sample dances along with her I began doing Free Dance and competing in Solo Dance.

IDC: What’s your favourite a part of Solo Dance?
Shakshi: In addition to simply the precise dancing half, I like Solo Dance due to the group and group. Once I grew up with Solo Dance, I used to be one of many few at my rink in Scottsdale. A whole lot of the skaters had been Freestyle skaters. It was exhausting not having a whole lot of dancers to speak to. Then I started dancing with Naomi in Chandler. She launched me to the Solo Dance Crew. Having the ability to compete and journey with these women has enveloped me into the dancing group. I like the way it’s grown.

IDC: Inform me about your school alternative.
Shakshi: I made the choice to attend the New School of South Florida primarily on what was greatest for my private targets – each tutorial and skating. Due to skating, I used to be all the time drawn into service-oriented passions and jobs. I’ve a love for science and wish to change into a doctor. Throughout my school search, I seemed the place I might proceed to skate plus have a great well being program. I’ll be finding out bio-medical sciences.

IDC: Will you proceed to skate?
Shakshi: My purpose now’s to get entangled within the Collegiate Crew they provide. I do know I gained’t be capable of practice as a lot as I do right here on the Ice Den, however I do wish to proceed my involvement in skating.

IDC: Share your ideas on making the cross-country transfer.
Shakshi: My household is right here; my coaches are right here. It will likely be a giant change. I believe it’s thrilling to take a step into a spot unknown and see the place it finally takes me.

IDC: It sounds very thrilling, and it actually will likely be difficult.
Shakshi: I’m undoubtedly excited. I’m glad I made the choice, so finally I can proceed to skate. That was an enormous a part of why I made that school choice.

IDC: What’s your favourite type of music in your packages?
Shakshi: My physique is extra liable to the lyrical instrumental music, however I’ve not too long ago gotten into the extra fashionable up to date model. Final season my Rhythm Dance was an Egyptian piece. Along with working with Naomi, Jacqueline Benson right here on the Ice Den helped me to maneuver my physique in a extra summary manner than I usually do – to interrupt myself out of my shell. I’m doing an analogous piece this season for my Free Dance.

IDC: What’s your favourite skating reminiscence?
Shakshi: I wasn’t all the time one of the best aggressive skater. I’m all the time my very own largest critic. Mentally, competitions had been very difficult, however I do like to compete. Once I step off the ice, I all the time wish to do it once more.

I used to be extra of a performer and present skater. I beloved doing all of the Christmas and Annual Exhibits, so these stand out probably the most all through my profession. The half that was actually particular was simply being backstage with all the women preparing for the performances, even when we weren’t on the market below the highlight. The rehearsals had been undoubtedly my largest and greatest reminiscence.

Maria Gonzales is 17 and not too long ago accomplished her junior 12 months at Hamilton Excessive Faculty in Chandler, Arizona.

IDC: What made you select ice skating as a sport?
Maria: Once I was six, I went to Las Vegas on a household trip. We went to an out of doors rink to attempt ice skating. After that I knew determine skating was the game for me. I got here again right here and took Study to Skate classes. I additionally didn’t actually like outside sports activities, so I believed ice skating can be an ideal alternative after an extended scorching day exterior within the scorching [Arizona] solar.

IDC: Describe your eleven years of skating.
Maria: I began off on the Freestyle monitor. I like leaping and did it for ten years. 5 years in the past I believed Naomi’s ice dance group can be an effective way to start out one thing new that wasn’t as nerve-racking as leaping. After I handed my Senior Freestyle check final 12 months, I made a decision to only concentrate on ice dance. Freestyle was an amazing journey!

IDC: What do you want greatest about Solo Dance?
Maria: It’s extra of an expressive facet of determine skating than Freestyle, which focuses extra on leap, leap, leap and getting all the weather in. With Solo Dance, you possibly can actually draw your strains and concentrate on connecting to the music which I actually admire. Naomi does an amazing job choreographing all my packages. She pays consideration to each single element, each line, each arm, each step. It’s actually nice!

IDC: What’s your favourite type of music for ice dancing?
Maria: I prefer to skate to lyrical music extra. I like drawing out my strains. I additionally like up-beat music, however I believe lyrical music is what fits me greatest. It’s been my Free Dance ever since I began.

IDC: Inform me in regards to the modifications within the components this 12 months.
Maria: In seniors, they took away the Sample and added a few new components just like the Character Steps within the Rhythm Dance. It’s certainly one of my favourite components. It’s an effective way to specific and hook up with the music.

IDC What’s your favourite sample?
Maria: My favourite sample is the Viennese Waltz. I like waltzes. I additionally just like the Fast Step, which is my different sample I’m competing this season.

IDC: Inform me about balancing faculty and skating.
Maria: I’m taking a really rigorous course load. This previous 12 months I had all AP courses. It’s troublesome attending to the rink, again to highschool, plus homework and every part else, however I all the time attempt to find time for skating as a result of it’s my favourite further curricular exercise. I like hanging out with my pals and having a stress reduction from faculty.

IDC: What’s your skating purpose for this season?
Maria: I’d prefer to make it to the Solo Dance Nationals in all three occasions: Senior Mixed, Gold Patterns and Shadow Dance. I additionally do Gold Worldwide.

IDC: Inform me about skating Shadow Dance.
Maria: Abby Dalsin has been my greatest buddy since I began skating. We’ve been companions for 4 years and love doing the patterns. This 12 months it’s the Midnight Blues. We’re an amazing group collectively, and it’s a number of enjoyable.

IDC: What’s your favourite skating reminiscence?
Maria: I even have two. First was passing my Senior Free Skate lat 12 months. It was an amazing end result of all my skating and was certainly one of my targets.  Second was making Nationals final 12 months in ice dance. It was my first Senior Mixed, and I used to be in a position to make it in my Senior debut. I additionally competed in Pre-Gold Patterns. Abby and I had been second in Pre-gold Shadow Dance.

IDC: Inform me in regards to the nice camaraderie in your Dance group on the Chandler Ice Den.
Maria: Naomi has a group of 15/16 skaters. We’re all actually shut. We attempt to foster group work and help one another at each competitors. It’s a very nice surroundings. Naomi is certainly a key consider that. Solo Dance continues to be a small group, so everybody actually is aware of everybody else. All of us attempt to help one another.