So, it's still the off-season...
I have seen so many people say they HATE Michelle's Scheherazade program most (well, Bolero most, but Schez a close 2nd!). Why? I have had a hard time watching it, due to the disappointment over SLC, but recently, since so many have targeted it as a "bad" program, I decided to watch every performance I could find.
At the GWG, I was excited about the potential of the program. The GPS was disappointing, Michelel was clearly stressed and tension was brewing in the Kwan Kamp. She was clearly skating with the "weight of the world on her shoulder" for much of the season. Nationals and Worlds, IMO, were her best performances that year.
As far as the actual program goes, I loved where the charlotte was placed to the music. She had other naunces, that showed off her pure basic skills, her sculling move, spread eagle and little attitude moves. Loved the ending to Schez, too. She was planning for a 3t/3t (or 3toe in place of the split jumps) as well as a 3lz/2lp, so she was going for more tech. Her footwork was not as good as she start to make it in 2003, but then, none of the ladies back them (except Irina) had FW sequences worth raving about.
The 2002 Nationals performance was amazing-people like to say Sasha could've beaten that program, but Michelle had a clean, 6 triple program with a lot of passion. Her power, edge quality and speed was unmatched on that night.
And I thought the Worlds LP was pretty darn good! She was more free than at the Olympics, had more spark and joy in her skate, none of that end of the season tiredness, want to be anywhere but here, we saw from top skaters at Calgary.
Yes, coming on the heels of masterpieces like The Red Violin and Song of the Black Swan, Schez was short in that department, but all the critics were saying "you need more speed, need a 3/3", and IMO, Michelle sacrficed what made the earlier programs great to achieve that here.
Plus, I LOVE that dress!
LOVE the dress!
IMO there was nothing at all wrong with Schez except that she never really performed it very well, especially at the Olympics. (There was nothing wrong with Bolero, either. But, for whatever reason, she gave only one good performance of Bolero, at the 2004 Campbell's cheesefest.)
Nothing succeeds like success. If Michelle could have landed the two triple-triple combinations that she had planned, Scheherazade would have gone down in skating lore as the finest program of her career.
My only gripe about the program was the music. I am a MONSTROUS Lori Nicole fan. Lori's forte is music selection. For the first half of Michelle's career we were treated to one program after another set to interesting and usual pieces. Everything Michelle put on the ice was a choreographic delight (as well as a technical and artistic challenge to the performer -- look how Michelle struggled with that darn Black Swan before she finally -- finally! -- wrestled it to the ground at 2001 Worlds!)
After Michelle parted company with Lori -- blech, here come the old war horses trotting around the bend.
Last edited by Mathman; 06-01-2006 at 11:38 AM.
Mathman - I agree with you about Nichol...I love her chorography with MK...I know many people (and that includes myself) thought that after a while, all of her programs looked alike, but after a more thoughtful review, I'd have to disagree.
B/C Kwan was the standard for the industry, people began to work with Nichol and if they couldn't, they'd "borrow" many of the moves that worked so well for Kwan. I think *THAT* is why many people, including myself, felt that all her programs looked the same. I'd imagine it's very hard to choreograph for multiple skaters without the programs resembling each other.
I do have to say, that her work with Sarah Kawrahara (I can’t spell her name) was very good – I like it a lot. I think it complimented Nichols’ work. Other than those two, I can’t say I liked any of her programs that were not choreographed by one of them. Especially TT…I don’t understand why people thought her pairing up with Kwan would produce such spectacular results. I agree she is a phenomenal coach – but only with the right pupil and I’d never put Kwan with her. TT choreography *DID* repeat itself in many of her skaters in years past….that I thought, was very evident. Plus, she’s a stickler for safe music – well known classical pieces, which doesn’t suit Kwan well.
Whomever it was that did “The Feeling Begins” and “East of Eden” – those were my al time favorite of any lady.
My complaint with Bolero was that it was never ever developed to its full potential and even more disappointing was that it was done by Dean. The music itself is so powerful that it takes a very talented skater to pull it off. On top of the music being difficult, the history behind it almost makes it sacrilegious to skate too. I and many others felt that should anyone try skating to Bolero, they MUST be able to do it justice and I think Kwan is the only female skater who could. It was just so poorly developed and so thin....I understand the "less is more" viewpoint and it does work but it was if there wasn't much to her program.
If Kwan returns, I'd like to see her do the program and bring it to the level that only she could.
Speaking of music choices.....I love the music that both Sex and the City and Will and Grace were set too....I wonder why know one has used it...I think it would be such fun!
First of all one has to realize that many fans of figure skating do not like MK to begin with, and Sheherezade was the perfect foil to come down on her. Ignore those fans. They contribute nothing but negative remarks throughout the skating forums. The only way I figure these fans is that they can not stand the MK fans. They want anyone to win except MK. In some cases, ethnicity plays a role in the dislike of MK.
Originally Posted by MKFSfan
But back to more important discussion of Sheherezade. It was a strange time in MK's skating career. A sudden split with Carrol and another with Nichols and it happened just before the Olys!! Tack on using Danny to be with her in the K&C was totally inexplicable. Will we ever know what Kwancamp was thinking in those days? The whole scenario was never fully explained, although there is lots of speculation about it. I can't wait for the book when MK is 50 years old.
All this confusion set in for her performance of Sheherezade. Imo, her heart was not into it for reasons will be best explained when we learn about the mystery of the above paragraph. This is just my opinion. I really don't want to read more speculations on this. - Just the facts, please.
What she didn't get with Sheh was the all important nuances of the music. It is one fine piece of music suited to both competitive and show skating. There are several changes of rhythm, humming tunes, and a collage of various moods and expressions. She didn't go for them, unfortunately.
I believe this is also the time the hip problem was beginning to happen, but a spurt of old time MK rocked the 2003 Worlds. Alas, it didn't continue, the hip was getting worse after that Worlds. However, she conntinued to meet all her financial obligations but began limiting her competitive pursuits. I think that showed in Dortmund and Moscow. She was just not prepared to do her best.
Although I believe a skater decides on when to leave the eligibles, I would like to know why she didn't leave competitive skating - another mystery but I do not want to give my specs on that at this point in time.
Michelle never looks as if she gets the nuances of the music with any piece she has ever skated to. She has a series of canned moves and facial expressions that she uses in every program. The only thing that was different with Lori was that Lori made Michelle do more moves than she does now.
Originally Posted by Joesitz
The reasons I found Scheherazade so disappointing is that Kwan made a very big deal at the beginning of the season about setting the expectation for change; in one interview, she said that she was going to play a new kind of character, one that some people might not like. Then she went out and skated the program, and, in a programmatic piece of music -- unlike the music Nichols had chosen for her -- that is tied to character, skated a generic program. There was no "character," and the choreography wasn't much different than a watered-down compilation of what she had done in the past -- she could have saved the choregrapher's fee. Based on this program, I thought Kawahara was a crappy choreographer; there was nothing it in like the jewels she's created for Bebe Liang.
Scheherezade was the first time, in my opinion, she bit off more than she could chew by setting expectations (or hype) and not meeting them. Had she skated the same program to a non-programmatic piece of classical music, I think she would have been more successful.
Rooting for the divas with Kwanford
This makes it sound as if there can't be any legitimate reasons not to be a Kwan fan. She just doesn't do it for me. I tend to agree w. Soogar that she doesn't seem very musical. Her line is less beautiful than some, she seems overhyped, and yes, too many of her fans cross the line into Cloudcuckooland. All that said, I have to respect her astounding record and consistency and grant that a lot of people who know way more than I do probably see something I don't. So one day I may eat my words, but not yet.
Originally Posted by Joesitz
The remark about ethnic prejudice is odd. I haven't seen anything of the sort and it seems a bit improbable in view of the diversity of the skating world, esp. in America. Could anyone elaborate?
It does seem a little bit "huh?" in this day and age, doesn't it. Granted, given the pervasiveness of the scourge of racism that still continues to plague our nation, it never hurts to be vigilant. But, at least among figure skating fans, we hardly ever hear any hint of a sour note any more.
Originally Posted by Spun Silver
In the recent past, however, this really was an issue. Supposedly lots of people did not embrace Kristi Yamaguchi as the new "America's sweetheart" because she didn't look like the America's sweethearts of the past. There was even pretty convincing data that she did not reap the same financial windfall from her Olympic gold medal that she might have "under other circumstances."
In fact, in the early nineties, when there was a succession of World Champions like Midori Ito, Kristi Yamaguchi, Lu Chen, Yuka Sato and Michelle Kwan -- hey, how did Oksana Baiul sneak in there? -- there was grumbling that the Asian menace was taking over the sport (much like black athletes took over all the others).
When Tara won at Nagano over Michelle, there was a big fuss when the Seattle newspaper went with the headline, "American beats Kwan!" -- as if to say that Tara was somehow more American than Michelle.
The funny -- ha ha -- part was, the same newspaper repeated their mistake four years later and featured almost the same headline, specifically referring to Sarah but not Michelle as "American."
However, to me, I think the most telling line in Joe's post was the part about, "The only way I figure these (anti-Kwan) fans is that they can not stand the MK fans."
I think this is true. If we (Kwan fans) would just shut up once in a while, maybe folks would like Michelle better.
Last edited by Mathman; 06-01-2006 at 03:22 PM.
Kawahara - you almost had it right!
Originally Posted by dwiggin3
Have to disagree with Joe on why some of us aren't fans. For me it has nothing to do with the fans (there are some out there that are a little "out there" but I get along with the majority), nor does it have anything to do with her ethnicity. I just don't feel moved by her skating like I do with others. And I don't have *fun* watching her as I do some others. That's what I base a lot of my fandom on. I also rarely go with the majority when it comes to choosing favorites it seems so maybe that's part of the reason. I don't think it's fair to assume that because someone is not a fan of Kwan that it's because they're negative people who can't get along with everyone. I just have never gotten her the way so many have.
that all said, I actually liked this program. It's not as fun as Kawahara's other pieces, and I agree with MM that she never trully skated great with it. but I like the program more than I like a lot of her others... I think Fields of Gold was possibly the best program she's done but again that's my opinion. Many others will argue that a Lori Nichols program is better, but whatever lol
The only one I can't stand from beginning to end was Bolero... everything else was fine
Funny - just two nights ago I decided I needed a little Michelle magic, and I watched the 2002 US Nationals. It was very interesting to see her long, because I hadn't seen it in a long time. Back then, I remember being deeply disappointed with the program. So when I watched it the other night, I was surpirsed to find out how much I liked the prgram. I started wondering what kind of insane standard I had been holding holding Michelle to in 2001-02, to feel that this was not a good program.
I love the music, and I feel the choreography is nuanced and reflects the music well. I love the dress. Michelle was expressive and free. It was great to see her land a triple jump combined with a double loop - something we haven't seen her do too often. The ending footwork and two leaps are magnificent. The only sign of trouble to come was the loop, which looked awkward and effortful.
Anyway, looking at it now I really enjoyed the program. It is just bittersweet to watch it, especially seeing her land the flip so well, and knowing what happened in SLC. I was intrigued by the fact that even a devoted fan like myself was expecting something fantastic, and when what I got was "only" very good, I was disappointed. How many times has Michelle been subject to being compared to her own incredible standard?
I agree. I think Michelle has set the standard high and when she fails to reach it, she's bashed to pieces.
Originally Posted by kareliz
I don't get how people can say Michelle is not musical when that has been the very thing to set her apart from her competitors all these years, since Salome. A skater might get lucky and fake it a program or 2, but please explain how can someone who doesn't "get" music or how to portray a character fool people (fans, judges, coaches, media, etc) for 10 years. When I watch my fave 3 LP's-Lyra, The Red Violin and Tosca, I'm amazed at how successfully Michelle can portray different pieces of music, and make me believe it. Yes, artistry, musicality, beauty is a subjective issue and in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will interpret/feel differently about any given skater, but I believe people who chose to insult Michelle for that are really doing what Joe brought up earlier. But I didn't mean for this thread to become an "Is Michelle musical?" thread. It's supposed to be about Schez.
Back to Schez-maybe that is so, maybe she didn't understand this piece of music. Had she landed both 3/3's, or even just one, she'd be an OGM and everyone would argue if that was the best Ladies LP ever. I thought Michelle was very expressive, esp. at Nationals, so I believed her program. I felt she never got to the bottom of Bolero, and the fact she kept changing the program, and trying to learn COP on the run, made it worse than it could've been.
Last edited by MKFSfan; 06-01-2006 at 03:56 PM.
Rooting for the divas with Kwanford
"Insult"? I hope you don't mean me bec I really try not to insult anyone. I think there is a line between snarky-funny and snarky-nasty that too many fans cross, and I don't like that about the boards.
Originally Posted by MKFSfan
I don't see what you do, though (yet). I hope I can disagree w/o being considered insulting.
Not you in particular, but that seems to be an insult of choice when criticizing Michelle. It's like, there are skaters I don't particularly care for, but others find moving. Some feel Irina is artistic. I don't see it, but she must be doing something right to garner the high marks she has under both 6.0 and COP. I look at it as a subjective topic, but I wouldn't say they are not artistic or musical, if that is the very heart of their skating.
Originally Posted by Spun Silver
I guess, had you said you didn't feel Michelle connected or understood Schez, I would understand better, but to say Michelle is not musical when you know everyone who likes her likes that very thing about her, well, how can it not be insulting?
Rooting for the divas with Kwanford
Gosh, I feel bad. As I said - I truly don't want to be insulting. Yet, if I don't see what looks like great musicality, why should I say I do?
The same thing happens with Sasha (my fave) all the time. I find her musically and artistically so remarkable (and those are considered her big qualities) and yet there are posters, whom I respect, who find her fakey and affected. I may think they are mystifying or blind but they are not insulting, IMO, unless their posts themselves use disrespectful language.
Back to Scheherezade at 02 nationals, I do like it a lot. Especially her Charlotte and flying leaf jumps. But I think her fans bring extra emotion surrounding her Olympic defeats that perhaps enhance her clean performances. Similarly with Sasha fans. If we ever see her do another clean LP there will not be enough superlatives or web space for our jubilation and I doubt MK or IS or KM fans will be chiming in.
That is true. As you know, I like Sasha. I think she's artistic and interprets the music as she sees fit. IMO, there are more similarities between the 2 than many of their fans want to admit. For me, I find Sasha brings Sasha (as herself) to her performances more than exploring where the music takes her. Take her Carmen program that same year-the 1st 30 seconds was the best part of the whole program, IMO, but I didn't see how that related to the music or the character she was portraying, yet, I still loved it.
If that's how people want to view Schez, that Michelle was Michelle, didn't get that piece of music, after watching it again (while paying attention to the music more than what Michelle was doing), I was able to see that view.
Last edited by MKFSfan; 06-01-2006 at 05:06 PM.