This is a rather old article, but I thought the information was relevent even today. I agree with Toller about the lack of artistry with the focus being on all the quad jumps today. I would love to see Elvis skate a program choreograhped by Toller. I still like Elvis and appreciate his technical abilities, but as Toller puts it "a change of pace" would be nice. Maybe Elvis will have a new choreographer when he returns.
March 21, 1997
Skaters lack art says Cranston
-- Toronto Sun
LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- They held an exhibition of Toller Cranston's paintings at the elegant and somewhat pretentious International Olympic Committee museum this week.
A great honor (in his words) for the Toronto based skater-turned-artist who expressed an extraordinary amount of courage when asked if he would care to address an assembled media horde, whose sole purpose for being there was to stuff our - uh, I mean their - faces with food and drink.
Talk about bravery. A lesser man would have yammered out a couple of salutations and retreated post-haste to avoid the inevitable stampede to the buffet tables.
But Cranston, a man certainly known for speaking his mind and suffering the consequences, was not going to let the rare opportunity of standing before an international collection of journalists pass without getting something off his chest. And that something is the state of figure skating today.
At a period of time when the likes of Elvis Stojko and Tara Lipinski are pushing the sport to unheard of limits technically, Cranston vehemently believes that something is being lost in the transition. An issue close to his heart - passion, expression and artistry.
"Skating is so unique because it is the marriage between sport and artistry and the great skaters of the past, like Belousova and Protopopov, Torvill and Dean, John Curry and the Duchesnays, will always be remembered, not for what they did technically but rather for what they did conceptually, artistically and emotionally. That's why we remember those skaters," said Cranston, who modestly, and quite wrongly, left himself out of that group.
"But over the past few years, I've watched skating develop in a way that, for the most part, is unimaginable," he added. "We see quad jumps and we see variations of triple jumps, yet in many ways something is missing."
Cranston, who is still larger than life in the somewhat closed world of figure skating, used promising young French skater Laurent Tobel as an example of what the sport needs right now. During men's qualifying on Sunday, Tobel brought the Malley Sports Centre audience to its feet with a free-skate routine totally unique for its humor and sense of parody.
"There was him and there was everybody else, and he was the only one who got a standing ovation - above ex-world champions and people who do quad jumps," said Cranston, arguably the best skater never to win a world championship (he won bronze at the 1974 worlds and 1976 Olympics). "The bottom line is, the world is hungry and ripe for something new like that."
Having said that, one would assume that Cranston would have major problems with Stojko's style of skating, that relentless pursuit of pushing the envelope. Surprisingly, however, Cranston appreciates and admires his fellow Canadian and in fact issued a heart-felt confession the other day that he would absolutely love the opportunity to choreograph Stojko's routines for next season. Stojko has basically worked with one choreographer, Uschi Keszler, for most of his career but Cranston brazenly suggested that perhaps it's time for a change.
"I think Elvis could definitely take a few lessons from me, as I could from him - about life," said the man who choreographed Lu Chen's free-skate program when the Chinese skater won the women's singles title at the 1995 worlds. "I think he has to experiment with another choreographer, work on an alternative body language."
"It's like, try another meal," Cranston added. "Don't just keep eating steak and chips. Have you had red snapper lately?"
NAVIGATION COMPASS FIGURE SKATING