Wednesday, 17/1/2018 | : : UTC-8
Skate Today

ALDRIDGE AND EATON SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS

US Ice dancers, Alexandra Aldridge+Daniel Eaton first teamed up at the Detroit Skating Club in 2009. They won the 2010 US Novice gold medal and moved up to the junior division.

Under the watchful eyes of Angelika Krylova, the team developed technically and matured. The two-time World gold medalist showed them her Russian ice dance way of edges, stroking, body carriage, and beauty.

“They taught us to be a top level team,” Eaton said proudly.

From 2011-2013, the Michigan based duo won several international medals, including bronze at both the 2012 and 2013 Junior Worlds.

In 2013, Aldridge+Eaton’s first year as seniors, they experienced a bit of a hiccup that often accompanies a move to a higher division.

The team placed 5th at the 2014 US Championships in Boston, and got the nod to Worlds after two withdrawals. The team finished a disappointing 17th

 

THE MOVE

In May 2014, the ice dancers made a bold decision. They left the DSC and joined Marina Zueva’s group of Oleg Epstein, Johnny Johns, and the newly hired Massimo Scali in Canton, MI.

“It was tough leaving our coaches, but when we stepped through the doors at Canton, it felt right from the very first day,” commented Eaton. “We needed a different look – a new style,” added Aldridge.

Scali was a familiar face from DSC. Although, he had basically been their head coach and had taken care of them, he didn’t assume a similar role at the Arctic Edge complex.

“Marina is our head coach. She took us under her wing and told us what we needed to do. She knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. Training with her is totally different than what I expected. No matter how the day is going, she just makes it fun out there,” smiled Eaton.

Already Zueva’s influence has made a mark on the team. At the recent USFSA Champs Camp held in Colorado Springs, the duo received positive feedback for their new direction.

“Our skating style has changed so much from last season. The coaching move has done this for us,” said Aldridge.

“It’s a new style we’re bringing to the ice this year…a new maturity. Last year we were technically consistent, but our component scores were lacking. Now, it feels great. We’re excited,” added Eaton.

There is a newfound excitement to this team. Their joy and enthusiasm for skating are key ingredients for a successful new season.

 

THE PROGRAMS

The Canton approach to developing programs is different from what Aldridge and Eaton had experienced in Bloomfield Hills.

“The program is built, and then Marina invites ‘supplemental coaches” to come to Canton to work with us. They bring out the different flavor of the program,” said Eaton. “These specialists concentrate more on the dancing,” smiled Aldridge.

Before the move, two programs had already been choreographed for the couple. Marina rearranged sections of the Carmen short dance and replaced The Godfather.

Eaton commented on choosing a much-used piece of music for their Paso Doble rhythm pattern.

“What’s great about Carmen is once the music starts, everybody knows what it is. They know the story, and they can begin to enjoy what we’re actually doing.”

Eaton explained the emotional changes in their performance of Carmen. “First there’s passion – anger and excitement. Then the powerful Toreador’s March music starts, and the matador takes over, and it becomes his program.”

DWTS professional dancer, Sharna Burgess, recently visited Canton to work with Zueva’s ice dancers.

“Sharna is amazing. She brings it out of you. With Carmen, she was like – be bipolar. I want him…I don’t want him…I want him. She got it out of us,” smiled Aldridge.

The new music Zueva chose for the free program was from the epic film, Gone with the Wind. The American classic celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2014. Aldridge watches it about 10 times a year and could probably recite most of the lines by heart.

“She’s wanted to skate to that music since we teamed up,” quipped Eaton.

Emotions vacillate throughout the performance from the opening happy polka to the huge dramatic ending and the burning of Atlanta.

Since character development is a focal point in Marina Zueva’s choreography, Scarlett and Rhett’s bold personalities challenge the newcomers.

“Scarlett has so many sides to her that it’s hard for me to be sure I’m showing in each piece of the music what she’s trying to express,” analyzed Aldridge.

“Pulling off the whole emotion that Rhett Butler displays is a challenge. He has this arrogance to him,” added Eaton.

In past seasons, the team skated to more ethnic dances – Fiddler on the Roof – Bollywood – Lord of the Dance.

“This season our focus is on characters and their relationships,” concluded Aldridge.

 

COMPETITIONS

In mid September, Aldridge+Eaton won their first senior international gold medal at the US Classic in Salt Lake City.

The team embraced the roles of their program characters.

In the short dance, Aldridge wore an exquisite dress made by a family friend in China and morphed into the flirtatiously passionate gypsy, Carmen. Eaton adopted the strong persona of the “Watch me!” Matador.

“The Paso Doble with its deep edges and fast character was a challenge, but also really fun,” said Eaton. “The characters were most important, and I think we kept them from beginning to end,” added Aldridge.

In Gone With the Wind, she portrayed the complicated heroine and southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara, and he the charming, but conniving rogue Rhett Butler.

The choreography used different selections from the soundtrack to accent the characters personalities at various stages.

Eaton offered his thoughts on the performance. “We’re really working on showing the characters. I think we’re making huge strides. This is our first competition this season, and the PCS marks were already higher than last year.”

“I can’t wait for people to see our growth. The relationship between us will expand more. The characters will grow and grow and grow,” smiled a confident Aldridge.

Aldridge+Eaton have been assigned two 2014 Grand Prix competitions – Skate Canada and the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, Russia.

The team recently participated in their first An Evening with Champions exhibition at Harvard University. The annual event raises money for the Jimmy Fund and supports research and compassionate patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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Skate Today was created in November 2004 to showcase the people of the skating world, skaters and coaches and others, who make figure skating and ice dancing a pleasure to watch for fans from around the world. The goal was to create a site that would give viewers an insight into the personalities of the people involved in this sport and to give you a more personal connection when watching them live at an event or on the television. Our staff knows how much time and dedication is put into this sport and that's why Skate Today was created.

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