Ice Dance International will hold its first performance in Maine next week in Portland. Photo by David J. Murray

Douglas Webster’s love of skating will come full circle next week when the ice dancing organization he founded in 2014 holds its first performance in Maine, where the Kittery resident learned the sport.

Ice Dance International is an organization dedicated to promoting ice dancing as an art form across the country. “Our goal is to inspire people to skate,” said Webster, the organization’s executive artistic director.

The 2020 tour is kicking off with a show at the William B. Troubh Ice Arena in Portland on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Webster said he hopes this initial performance in the state is just the start of his group’s growing presence here. “I would love to see skating grow in Maine and all of New England,” Webster said. 

Ice Dance International his based in Kittery but tours throughout the country, its company of ice dancers joined by award-winning skaters and world-renowned choreographers.

Members of Ice Dance International perform in a show called “In the Light.” Photo by Douglas Webster, courtesy of Ice Dance International

The goal of the organization is to make people think of skating as more than a family activity and competitive sport, but as a form of art. To help people get active on the ice themselves, the organization also holds skating clinics, free programs for children and adults of disadvantaged communities, and discussion panels. Some are held as pop-up events, while others are part of the organization’s residencies, during which the company stays in one place – recently in Idaho and New Hampshire, as well as Portland – for an extended period to get more extensively involved in a community.

Before many of its shows on tour, the company holds “edge classes,” advanced instruction open to people who already have significant skating experience. The classes also serve as the company’s warm-ups for the performance. The fee to participate is $20.

Webster is working to bring more events to Maine, including free skate days in Biddeford and Kennebunk, where kids can learn from the dancers. 

Webster also hopes to bring shows to and develop programs at Maine universities, increasing the opportunities for budding professional skaters in the state.

“Skating is a small community in Maine,” Webster said, and to pursue it professionally, often people have to go to Boston to get enough time on the ice. However, Webster thinks this has the potential to change with his efforts. “I just love the way that Maine is growing with the arts,” he said about the potential for an evolving ice dancing community. 

After the show in Portland, the 2020 IDI tour will stop at nine other venues across the country, from New England to the Midwest. The performances will be a mix of new and old pieces and solo and group performances, featuring both classical and contemporary music. Rather than performing in large venues, the shows are more intimate, taking place at ice rinks and arenas. Free meet-and-greet sessions with the cast will be held after shows, including the one in Portland.

Tickets range from $15-$25 and can be purchased at icedanceinternational.org. Participation in edge classes is $20. The edge class before the Portland show takes place at 6 p.m., and the performance is at 6:45 p.m. 

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