Pedestal-Worthy Dance at the Winter Olympics

If you've been following the Sochi Olympics, you've probably seen a surprise dance treat or two. United States luge star Kate Hansen, surely in the running for Most Likable Olympian, is building her fan base with her delightful dance warm-ups to Beyoncé.

 

"My girl Bey gets me fierce and I get stoked and I just have to (dance)," Hansen says in an interview with NBC. "Honestly, I'm completely in my own world and it doesn't matter who's staring. I'm still gonna dance."

 

Amazing! If only everyone prepared for insanely high pressure situations by dancing like nobody's watching.

 

Well, with less abandon, figure skaters do just that -- especially Russian skaters. "Ballet is found at the core of skaters' routines," says Olympics reporter Mary Carillo in this interview with Russian figure skating coach Tamara Moskvina.

 

"Figure skating is art on ice -- art of music, art of movement, art of performing," says Moskvina in the same interview. "We use what we have in Russia in the tradition of ballet and introduce that to skating."

 

"We have a ballet culture.  From that we get a nice look, good [body] line, good position," elaborates 1998 pairs figure skating gold medalist Artur Dmitriev in this LA Times article

 

The balletic tradition was proudly on display in the Swan Lake routine of ice-dancing pair Nikita Katsalapov and Elena Ilinykh. You can watch an earlier performance of the same piece here.

Daniel Ezralow

 

Given the Russia/dance Olympic connection, you may be surprised to learn that long sections of the opening ceremony were choreographed by American, Daniel Ezralow. Ezralow danced with MOMIX and the Paul Taylor Dance Company and his choreography has been featured by Cirque du Soleil, Broadway's "Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark," the Paris Opera Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance. 

 

"I said, OK, if it must be Soviet it must also be ironic, clever and joyful...To do it right I needed to eat their food, to talk to the people and try to learn their language," says the choreographer in a recent LA Times piece. "I simply want to change the world by inspiring it. Everybody has fear and anger but my job is not to fuel that up. My job is to say: 'Let's use the flame of creativity for positivity."

 

If you prefer more spontaneity in your Olympic dance highlights, you'll enjoy this video of US bobsledder Jazmine Fenlator dancin' it out with one of the members of the Jamaican bobsledding team.

 

Incidentally, Beyoncé approves of Hansen's joyous getting in the zone. She Facebook messaged the Olympian, "Go Kate!"