Skate Dance Dream unites skating and dance, kids and pros


Parker Pennington skating at the 2009 US Figure Skating National Championships | photo by Adam Stein
Parker Pennington skating at the 2009 US Figure Skating National Championships | photo by Adam Stein

My first contact with Parker Pennington was when I accidentally tweeted him good luck in Sochi. Thinking he was Jason Brown by looking at tiny pictures on my phone… ok I have no excuse, and that was really embarrassing.

But Pennington has had an extremely impressive career of his own, winning US National Figure Skating titles at four different levels and two silver medals in international competition. More importantly, that oopsie tweet brought a really neat organization to my attention.

Skate Dance Dream is a project like no other, combining top level professional dancers and figure skaters together in a combined showcase, while highlighting over 100 youth performers. The whole group is embarking on a national tour, including stops in the Midwest. Skate Dance Dream lands in Mentor, OH tomorrow, stops in Charleston, SC, and returns this September for a final performance in Dayton.

Ok, so, world class skaters and nationally acclaimed dancers (most of whom have been seen on So You Think You Can Dance), and kids who skate really, really well, and more kids who dance really, really well… maybe it’s hard to picture it, but perhaps this will help:


The way Parker Pennington describes Skate Dance Dream is also way better than my description:

“Skate Dance Dream™ is more than just a show, it is a family, a life experience, an interactive and innovative atmosphere created to bring people together and celebrate the kid in each of us. Dancers and skaters in each tour location are given a chance to fulfill their dreams of performing with and learning from their heroes.”

I would imagine, though, that it’s equally inspiring for the pros to engage with young, aspiring artists who want to be them when they grow up. The point is, if I were within a stone’s throw of Mentor, Ohio, this is what I’d be doing tomorrow.

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance dance critic, contributing to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. She is senior editor of See Chicago Dance. Lauren covers dance across the Midwest and writes regularly for Dance Magazine and Pointe with additional bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Teacher. Forthcoming publications include essays on ballet training in Chicago (University of Illinois Press) and Shirley Mordine (University of Akron Press). In 2020, Lauren published an opinion piece on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts in the South African journal Agenda. Lauren holds degrees in dance and kinesiology and has presented research on dance training practices at the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She has co-facilitated critical dance writing intensives in Chicago and Durban, South Africa, and participated in writing residencies at the National Center for Choreography, Bates Dance Festival and JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. Lauren teaches dance history and kinesiology for dancers, with part-time appointments at Loyola University Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.