We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate McSwain and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kate, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking has played a fundamental role in the success of American Ice Theatre (AIT). As a one-of-a-kind contemporary skating company in an industry where the Olympics is the only reason people skate, we had to decide to volunteer our time, work against political alignments in figure skating, and speak out against the traditional culture that figure skating inhabits. Risk-taking in terms of finances and time commitment are an absolute necessity as an owner when starting a business, but beyond that, risk-taking to create a mission statement and set of values that are not the standard messaging of the industry is absolutely essential. Only by pushing against the systems, traditions, and egos that are upheld by the leading organizations in any field, can change occur. With American Ice Theatre, we hope to slowly expand the focus of figure skating to include the competitive track alongside the artistic/holistic track. Figure skating can be a lifelong exploration of body movement and self-love while gliding; it doesn’t have to only be a competitive sport of cut-throat teenage athletes with quadruple jumps. As the Co-CEO’s of AIT, we continuously take risks to give a voice to all skaters regardless of age, level, achievements, background, race, or socio-economic status.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
American Ice Theatre (AIT) is an artistic figure skating organization working to empower and nurture authentic contemporary skating by providing opportunities for education, performance, and outreach. We achieve our mission through seminars, camps, performances, residencies, apprenticeships, scholarships, and mentoring for skaters of all ages, backgrounds, races, socio-economic statuses, and skill levels. AIT is a global leader in the world of artistic and contemporary figure skating by offering a non-competitive platform for skating artists to create, learn, and perform. We envision skaters everywhere developing a healthy and holistic view of themselves and finding a community of like-minded individuals who will join them in their lifelong skating journey. We are different from other artistic skating companies because we place so much value on our mantra, “Humans first, skaters second.” Many organizations in skating focus on the competitive achievements of its skaters as well as how politically engaged its leaders are. Instead, we focus on the self-development of each human in our organization and how we can all share our passion of the ice together. We are still growing, and we are still at the beginning chapters of our visibility and influence in contemporary figure skating, but it has not come without hardship. We face many walls built by coaches and leaders of the industry who view the traditional track of figure skating as the “only” way to achieve their success. AIT encourages collaboration and humility as we recognize we can always learn more and the journey is never finished, those negative forces who build walls to block our growth, are discovering that they are blocking their own growth in the process. If we come across these walls, we find a way around them or over them. Every wall can be averted with discipline, commitment, passion, openness, and time. In the end, with each difficult experience, we continue to live into our other favorite quote, “Everyone has something to learn, and everyone has something to share.” Sometimes, as leaders, we need to be quiet and learn, and sometimes we can speak out and share. In order to succeed in any field, we must know how to determine which of those 2 scenarios we are experiencing in every given moment.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
American Ice Theatre is a global community, but if we had guests visiting the Los Angeles area, we would definitely show them Santa Monica pier and Venice beach! Those are some our favorites to visit when we are in LA.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
American Ice Theatre definitely owes much of its success and fundamental concepts to its Founder, Jodi Porter. Jodi Porter started this artistic figure skating organization in 2003 and she closely mentored both of us prior to passing the torch to us in 2019. With her passion and extensive knowledge of both dance and figure skating, the company began. With her mentorship, the leaders were able to learn a standardized vocabulary for what do within choreography on ice, and with her confidence in us and support, we are now taking AIT to the next level as a global brand in contemporary skating.

Website: www.americanicetheatre.org

Instagram: @americanicetheatre

Facebook: American Ice Theatre

Youtube: AmericanIceTheatre

Image Credits
On Ice Perspectives, Darial Sneed, Kate McSwain

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