Friday, April 2, 2010

Ask the Ice Moms: How Do You Put on a Club Ice Show?

A funny thing happens when you mention ice show. People begin to look uncomfortable, shuffle their feet, and  remember an urgent appointment. See ya! Bye! Mention ice show and you'll be standing alone within minutes.

Reader V. e-mailed me ages ago asking this simple question:
I have been selected to be the Committee Chair to plan our year-end show. We have a small figure skating club - approx 40 skaters (all levels). Do you have any ideas for theme, planning, organizing a show?

I have no experience with ice shows beyond cleaning out the locker room toilets and manning the ticket sales table. Here's what the board had to say:

From Xan, figure skating coach, parent of a professional ice show skater, and blogger at Xanboni!
They need a policy on solos (everyone gets one, or only above a certain test level) and they need to figure out levels for groups. They need to make sure that their rink or municipality has an ASCAP and a BMI license for music rights (most do). Choosing the music is the easy part, but they need someone to cut it, and they need to determine a standard length for all solos and group numbers, so no one feels slighted.

A nice thing to do with an ice show is to donate part of the proceeds to a local charity, like the Breast Cancer Walk, or book drive. That organization will help get audience, and local newspapers are more likely to pay attention to it.

If they're a US figure skating club, or in an area that has Basic Skills programs, they should call Susi Wehrli, member director for U.S. Figure Skating and ask her for resources. The phone number I found by Googling her is 719.635.5200, but I'm not vouching for it. Susi's counterpart at the Ice Skating Institute, in case they're an independent club or ISI program, is Randy Winslip. Both Susi and Randy are very approachable and know everything there is to know about clubs. Hope that helps!
From figure skating parent S.F.:
We used to do group numbers and divide the skaters up based on ability. The past several years we changed the format and the skaters perform the competition programs in front of an audience and the audience votes for their favorite skater. We found this format worked well for our club because we were able to put it together with less ice time/coaching fees then when we did group numbers.
From figure skating parent PairsMom, whose son and his partner won a gold medal for Intermediate Pairs skating at the December 2009 Junior Nationals competiton:

Here is my advice:

  • First and foremost, make sure that rink management, staff, and coaches are all "on board" and enthusiastic about the show and willing to lend their support.   
  • Form a committee and pick a theme - check other club websites for ideas of show titles 
  • Committee could consist of the following titles (this is a minimum and there could be more)
  • Show Director (probably a coach) 
  • Music Director - someone to select music, cut music, make copies for skaters, play music, announce, etc.
  • BackStage Director - a parent that can literally run things backstage, on or off ice behind the curtain lining up groups, solos, etc.
  • Costumes - someone to oversee and approve costume selections, make suggestions, etc.
  • Publicity/Tickets
  • Rehearsal Asst./Runner - older skater (HS or College) or parent
  • Props/Set decorations on ice and/or in the lobby
  • Plan to have an all cast combined number for opening and/or closing of the show to include all skaters of all levels. This will be the highlight of your show and the most memorable for all involved - I PROMISE!
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate

From board member S.L., who gets roped into running her club's show every year:

  1. Pick a date - This can be hard because of vacations, school breaks, and hockey conflicts. Find the most practice ice available and work your date around that.
  2. Pick a theme - Get ideas from kids, such as: Saturday at the 70's, traveling (very flexible), newspaper (very flexible), jungle, Disney, beach, music genres. Avoid religion. People will always be unhappy with the theme, but these are usually the people who complain anyway. When considering the theme, think about how hard it will be to get costumes and music.
  3. Sets - Sets are always last. Ask one person from each group to facilitate props. The coach decides what props and sets they'll need. Less is better, especially with little kids.
  4. Costumes - use dance books to help with ordering, but costumes can be expensive. You can go to or some place similar for good deals.
  5. Budget - Decide what's realistic. Charge skaters their registration fees based on what you'll need to cover the ice costs. The goal is for the show to pay for itself. For us, it's rarely a fundraiser. Sometimes you can get a portion of the ice fees donated and maybe some of the pros will donate their time, too. Ticket sales usually pay for the pros and cover the cost difference between registration fees and the cost of ice and costumes.
  6. Printing - We get our posters and flyers 100% donated. Our figure skater memory book printing is donated, too. So any money we collect from the memory book is profit.
  7. Celebrations - the rehearsal dinner, cast party, pictures, DVDs, and T-shirts pay for themselves.
  8. Jobs - co-chairs, back-stage lead, costumes, dressing room monitor, lights, Learn to Skate liaison, memory book creator, music man, cast party planner, program creator, props master, concessions, set-up and clean-up crews, ticket sellers, t-shirt coordinator, videographer, and photographer.
It's a lot of work, but very rewarding. Go in knowing that not everyone will be happy, but those people are the ones who don't help, so you don't feel as bad. It's a lot of work; don't let it scare you. It comes together nicely in the end.

Do you have any experience with club ice shows? Don't be afraid - I'm not asking you to volunteer! If you know anything that would help someone with an ice show, please put it in the comments!

As always, if you have any questions for the Ice Moms, just e-mail me! You can also send me any post ideas you have. If you're an expert, please contact me! I'm always looking for experts for Wednesday's Ask the Expert feature. My e-mail is:

You know this blog is moving, right? Tomorrow (and thereafter) you'll find it at


Anonymous said...

here are some themes our show has used in the past
- night at the oscars (all movie songs)
- Skaters hard at work (all songs about working)
- rock and roll
and this year
-olympic dreams (songs about reaching your dreams and songs that were often played or someone skated to in the olympics)

Also this is the solo/group policy at our club...
all skaters must be in a group with level with their basic skills group or if they have passed their Pre-prlim with the group of senior skaters.
If you have only passed the Pre-prlim then you can have a duet, trio or spotlight and if you have passed Prlim then you can have a solo.

We always have an opening number with no groups everyone skates in a line usually and the closing number that has every skater with their group.

hope this is helpful
sk8r girl

Ice Mom said...

Hey, sk8r girl.

Thanks for the ice show themes and the information about how your club awards solos.

Sharing that kind of thing helps build up a knowledge base!

Ice Mom