Solo Dancing within the Desert (Half II)

by Anne Calder

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

Abigail Dalsin is seventeen and shall 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 after 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 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 sort of entering into it after 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 concerning the choreography and never simply the talents. In fact, there’s like twizzles and ranges and factors, however I like how its extra about type, and it’s enjoyable. It’s much less anxious. 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 workforce side of it.

IDC: What different hobbies do you could have apart from 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 identical to a lift of power. The side of doing it together with your greatest buddy was such a very good feeling altogether.

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

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

Shakshi Wagh is an 18 12 months previous latest Paradise Valley Excessive College graduate who shall 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 turn out to be 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. In the future 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 abilities. 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: Apart from simply the precise dancing half, I really like Solo Dance due to the workforce and group. Once I grew up with Solo Dance, I used to be one of many few at my rink in Scottsdale. Loads of the skaters had been Freestyle skaters. It was exhausting not having a number of dancers to speak to. Then I started dancing with Naomi in Chandler. She launched me to the Solo Dance Group. With 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 School of South Florida primarily on what was greatest for my private objectives – each educational and skating. Due to skating, I used to be at all times drawn into service-oriented passions and jobs. I’ve a love for science and need to turn out to be a doctor. Throughout my school search, I regarded the place I might proceed to skate plus have a very good well being program. I’ll be finding out bio-medical sciences.

IDC: Will you proceed to skate?
Shakshi: My purpose now’s to become involved within the Collegiate Group they provide. I do know I gained’t be capable of prepare as a lot as I do right here on the Ice Den, however I do need 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 feel it’s thrilling to take a step into a spot unknown and see the place it in the end takes me.

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

IDC: What’s your favourite sort 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 fashionable modern type. 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 at all times the perfect aggressive skater. I’m at all times my very own greatest critic. Mentally, competitions had been very difficult, however I do like to compete. Once I step off the ice, I at all times need 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 Reveals, so these stand out probably 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 beneath the highlight. The rehearsals had been positively my greatest and greatest 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: Once I was six, I went to Las Vegas on a household trip. We went to an outside rink to strive 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 out of doors sports activities, so I believed ice skating can be an ideal alternative after an extended scorching day outdoors within the scorching [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 workforce can be a good way to begin one thing new that wasn’t as anxious as leaping. After I handed my Senior Freestyle check final 12 months, I made a decision to simply deal with ice dance. Freestyle was an incredible journey!

IDC: What do you want greatest about Solo Dance?
Maria: It’s extra of an expressive side of determine skating than Freestyle, which focuses extra on bounce, bounce, bounce and getting all the weather in. With Solo Dance, you may 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 sort of music for ice dancing?
Maria: I wish to skate to lyrical music extra. I like drawing out my strains. I additionally like up-beat music, however I feel lyrical music is what fits me greatest. It’s been my Free Dance ever since I began.

IDC: Inform me concerning the modifications 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 one in every of my favourite parts. It’s a good way to precise and connect 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 courses. It’s troublesome attending to the rink, again to high school, plus homework and the whole lot else, however I at all times attempt to find time for skating as a result of it’s my favourite additional curricular exercise. I really like hanging out with my buddies and having a stress aid from college.

IDC: What’s your skating purpose for this season?
Maria: I’d wish 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 incredible workforce collectively, and it’s numerous 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 end result of all my skating and was one in every of my objectives.  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 concerning the nice camaraderie in your Dance group on the Chandler Ice Den.
Maria: Naomi has a workforce of 15/16 skaters. We’re all actually shut. We attempt to foster workforce work and help one another at each competitors. It’s a extremely nice setting. Naomi is certainly a key consider 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.