Did you know dance pro Elena Grinenko has been helping some ice dancing Olympic hopefuls? She is!!
As most of you know, Elena is Tony Dovolani’s former dance partner when they were competing. She was also a pro for Dancing With The Stars in Seasons 3 and 4. Since that time, she’s helped on the side lines with the show. She’s also helped Dance With Me Studios. She also has her own talent and booking agency called Grinya’s Entertainment where she helps people achieve and find their goals in the Performing Arts for whatever they may be. One such couple she’s been recently helping is ice dancing and reigning World Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
You may remember this skating team from the 2010 Olympics where they won a Silver medal. Well, the two are very much still competing to keep their American and “World” titles and working harder than ever to win a Gold medal come 2014. In doing so, they’ve asked Elena to help choreograph their dances which have been stunning audiences since last summer. Elena has also been helping to choreograph dances for ice dancing pairs Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani. Below is a little take explaining what the experience has been like for Elena. You can read even more on it at Ice Network.
The first time she went to Detroit, she worked with Davis and White focusing on choreography for their Latin short dance. They hadn’t yet chosen their music, so they played with different pieces of music before putting the whole program together.
During the trip, she met Marina Zoueva. Shortly after Grinenko returned home to Los Angeles, Zoueva called and asked her come back and work with some of the other teams. Before accepting, Grinenko made sure that was alright with Davis and White, who gave her the okay. On her second visit to Detroit, she worked with all of Shpilband and Zoueva’s teams. She’s since been back for a third visit.
“It’s very exciting and it’s amazing how your work can transfer to ice,” Grinenko says. “It’s actually even more amazing to see certain things they can do on ice way better than they do it on the floor.”
So far, the experience has been a thrill for Grinenko, who grew up in Moscow (she became a U.S. citizen in 2008) and watched a great deal of figure skating on television with her mother. She intently watched the 2010 Olympic Winter Games on TV, and when she was doing research on the couples she’d be working with, she realized how much she’d enjoyed their Olympic performances.
Although she worked with all the couples on the dance floor, much of the actual choreography was done right on the ice. Rather than mapping out a program only to find out certain moves weren’t viable, they took the creative process onto the rink.
“It’s faster to digest what is working and what is not,” Grinenko says. “I’ve taught since I [was] 15 years old, and I have a very good sense of what’s working and what’s not. I thought it would be actually a harder transition for me to try to do it on ice and see what works and what doesn’t, but it went pretty smoothly.”
For Davis and White, she even choreographed hand gestures to go with the required steps in the compulsory rumba to make it more authentic.
“Obviously, we did completely different steps when it’s allowed to do it,” Grinenko says. “When we touched rumba part, it was pretty much all about upper body.
“They’re such amazing athletes,” she adds. “They pick up on it so quick. It was very exciting to see how fast they catch onto it. Pretty amazing.
Below is Meryl Davis and Charlie White November 29th at “Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular”. You can view more here. As a dancing and ice skating fan, I’ve got my eye on these two. Good luck Elena!
For those interested, here is a TV Schedule of the ice skating events taking place in the next couple of months where you can watch these couples and other ice skaters dance.