Solo Dancing within the Desert (Half II)

by Anne Calder

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

Abigail Dalsin is seventeen and can be a senior subsequent semester at Desert Vista Excessive College 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 once I first skated. It was on an outside rink. After that I attempted hockey, however I didn’t just like the stick, so I ended up simply skating. I took Be taught 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 have been form of moving into it after we had a break. I began competing the primary 12 months after that.

IDC: What do you want finest about Solo Dance?
Abby: I like ice dance as a result of it’s extra in regards to the choreography and never simply the abilities. In fact, 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 staff facet of it.

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

IDC: What’s your favourite skating reminiscence?
Abby: We do Christmas packages yearly. My finest pal 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 have been completely in sync. It was similar to a lift of power. The facet of doing it together with your finest pal was such feeling altogether.

IDC: What’s your skating aim 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 excellent 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 incredible group sport. That’s what I like about ice dance additionally. Marie and I are buddies, so It’s pure we skate collectively. We skate equally. It’s simply plenty 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 kind of feeling together with your teammates quite than stress. Maria and I compete in opposition to one another in mixed, however I by no means felt it was poisonous in any means.

Shakshi Wagh is an 18 12 months previous current Paradise Valley Excessive College graduate who can 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 Be taught to Skate classes, however now performs basketball.

IDC: How did you change into concerned with determine skating?
Shakshi: My mother and father have 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 have 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 “Be taught to Skate” lessons.

IDC: What led you to Solo Dance?
Shakshi: I initially was taking lessons to spherical out all my fundamental expertise. Then I went into personal 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 keep in mind strolling out my canasta tango together with her in off-ice lessons. After understanding my preliminary sample dances together 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 really like Solo Dance due to the staff and group. After I grew up with Solo Dance, I used to be one of many few at my rink in Scottsdale. Plenty of the skaters have been Freestyle skaters. It was onerous not having a variety of dancers to speak to. Then I started dancing with Naomi in Chandler. She launched me to the Solo Dance Staff. Having the ability to compete and journey with these ladies has enveloped me into the dancing group. I really like the way it’s grown.

IDC: Inform me about your school alternative.
Shakshi: I made the choice to attend the New Faculty of South Florida primarily on what was finest for my private objectives – each educational 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 regarded the place I might proceed to skate plus have well being program. I’ll be learning bio-medical sciences.

IDC: Will you proceed to skate?
Shakshi: My aim now could be to become involved within the Collegiate Staff they provide. I do know I gained’t have the ability to prepare 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. Will probably 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 definitely can be difficult.
Shakshi: I’m positively 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 resolution.

IDC: What’s your favourite form of music to your packages?
Shakshi: My physique is extra liable to the lyrical instrumental music, however I’ve just lately gotten into the extra trendy modern 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 means than I usually do – to interrupt myself out of my shell. I’m doing an identical piece this season for my Free Dance.

IDC: What’s your favourite skating reminiscence?
Shakshi: I wasn’t all the time the perfect aggressive skater. I’m all the time my very own greatest critic. Mentally, competitions have been very difficult, however I do like to compete. After 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 cherished doing all of the Christmas and Annual Reveals, so these stand out essentially the most all through my profession. The half that was actually particular was simply being backstage with all the ladies preparing for the performances, even when we weren’t on the market underneath the highlight. The rehearsals have been positively my greatest and finest reminiscence.

Maria Gonzales is 17 and just lately accomplished her junior 12 months at Hamilton Excessive College in Chandler, Arizona.

IDC: What made you select ice skating as a sport?
Maria: After I was six, I went to Las Vegas on a household trip. We went to an outside rink to attempt ice skating. After that I knew determine skating was the game for me. I got here again right here and took Be taught 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 sizzling day outdoors within the sizzling [Arizona] solar.

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

IDC: What do you want finest 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 deal with connecting to the music which I actually recognize. Naomi does an incredible 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 form 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 finest. It’s been my Free Dance ever since I began.

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

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

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

IDC: What’s your skating aim 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 finest pal 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 incredible staff collectively, and it’s plenty 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 incredible fruits of all my skating and was certainly one of my objectives.  Second was making Nationals final 12 months in ice dance. It was my first Senior Mixed, and I used to be capable of make it in my Senior debut. I additionally competed in Pre-Gold Patterns. Abby and I have 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 staff of 15/16 skaters. We’re all actually shut. We attempt to foster staff work and help one another at each competitors. It’s a very nice setting. Naomi is unquestionably a key think about that. Solo Dance remains to be a small group, so everybody actually is aware of everybody else. All of us attempt to help one another.