To say we're pumped for the Winter Olympics is a definite understatement. We love watching cold-weather sports like bobsledding (Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme!), the terrifying-but-exhilarating art of ski jumping, figure skating (perhaps the most dance-centric event) and even more obscure options like curling.

But that's not the say the Olympics aren't lacking in any way.

We're missing the cherry on top, which at one time did exist in the games: the long-forgotten sport of ski ballet, also know as acroski.


Yes, in 1988 and 1992, ski ballet was a demonstration sport in the Winter Olympics. (Outside of the games, it had more traction, existing as an idiom of freestyle skiing at major competitions from the 1960s until 2000.) The delightfully odd mash-up of balletic movement, figure skating and skiing is better seen than described. Exhibit A:

It is dated, it is cheesy, it is amazing. Little information exists on this now-fossilized discipline, but thankfully NBC recently put together this mini-documentary that takes a deeper look at the sport (and it's getting us all nostalgic). It's also a fitting tribute to the bygone era of neon ski fashion.

At times, ski ballet even involved ribbon dancing(!). Here, Suzy Chaffee, a glam professional model and popular athlete in the 1970s swirls and twirls:

Even though it may seem goofy today, ski ballet is far more than a 1980s stereotype. It takes real skill and artistry, and when done well, it can be as graceful as figure skating. Take French athlete Hermann Reitberger, for example. He's truly incredible. (Don't miss his pole-assisted front flip 45 seconds into this 1988 Olympic performance.)

Here's hoping ski ballet will make a return, perhaps even in 2020.

Latest Posts


Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS

Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
contest
Enter Our Video Contest