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Thread: Political Statements in Programs

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    Trixie Schuba's biggest fan! blue dog's Avatar
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    Political Statements in Programs

    I remember in 1994, Katarina Witt made a political statement with her Olympic LP, Sag Mir Wo Die Blumen Sind. In the politically charged environment we almost always seem to find ourselves in, which skaters in history have made a political statement through their skating? Skaters, like other athletes in performance-oriented sports have the unique opportunity to make a statement about society through their performances.

    I remember this from 2002:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=laDlhSZad14

    Of course, no program in skating has ever made a political statement that offended judges that they had to change it, in the way that the 1996 French Synchronized Swim team did (their free routine was to Schindler's List, where they began first by playing Nazis goosewalking to the pool, to female prisoners being dragged to the incinerators; they had a different routine for the Olympics):

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=eqQcLAqU8xw

    So--which skaters have made political statements in their programs? And do you find that political statements belong or do not belong in skating?

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    depends on the situation.............

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    I would like to see skaters sending a message through their program. An ice dance team could do something so well. I have this great idea in my head of ice dancers portraying the war over Kashmir...

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    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue dog View Post
    Of course, no program in skating has ever made a political statement that offended judges that they had to change it, in the way that the 1996 French Synchronized Swim team did (their free routine was to Schindler's List, where they began first by playing Nazis goosewalking to the pool, to female prisoners being dragged to the incinerators; they had a different routine for the Olympics):
    That is really distasteful. The Schindler's List score is a lovely, haunting piece of music and has been beautifully interpreted by some skaters, but there are some lines that just shouldn't be crossed, and making a spectacle of the Holocaust would be high on that list. I haven't seen the program, and it may have been done with the best of intentions, but it seems to me a stunt to get attention.

    So--which skaters have made political statements in their programs? And do you find that political statements belong or do not belong in skating?
    The Duchesnays did Missing and Missing II back in the early 1990s, which were supposed to be about repression in South America. I never saw either so I'm not sure how successful it was. Here's the report from Sports Illustrated after 1991 Worlds:

    Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay of France... issued a press release explaining that they would be skating Missing II, a sequel to Missing, last year's ice dancing hit about repression in a South American dictatorship. In Missing II, the dictatorship is over! This must have been terribly good news to the audience, because the Duchesnays received their first standing ovation merely for showing up in tattered garments and looking tortured.(http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.c...9009/index.htm)

    I think political statements in sports need to be handled very carefully so as not to do something that seems to cheapen tragic events. It might be better to skate a "normal" program and make one's political statements off the ice.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    In 1936, Belita Jepson (UK) did not salute Hitler as did all the other athletes
    during the Opening Parade of the Olympics. She went on to make a few skating movies in Hollywood. She had the original 180 degree spiral.

    Joe

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    In 1936, Belita Jepson (UK) did not salute Hitler as did all the other athletes
    during the Opening Parade of the Olympics. She went on to make a few skating movies in Hollywood. She had the original 180 degree spiral.

    Joe
    great story. Thanks for adding your words of wisdom.

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    Sarah Hughes - You will never walk alone

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSEhGpunSvE

    I liked that performance. That was really great.

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    Trixie Schuba's biggest fan! blue dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    In 1936, Belita Jepson (UK) did not salute Hitler as did all the other athletes
    during the Opening Parade of the Olympics. She went on to make a few skating movies in Hollywood. She had the original 180 degree spiral.

    Joe
    Could it be argued, then, that Sonja Henie made a political statement herself by befriending Hitler?

    Then again, neither befriending Hitler nor refusing to salute him are part of their skating programs, right?
    Last edited by blue dog; 06-07-2008 at 04:03 AM.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Duchesnays Missing I & Missing II programs

    I saw Missing I live in Halifax, and it was immensely powerful
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRtg7VpawSA

    Missing II
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdpQoKPjWF0

    An amazing political statement was made by Wing & Lowe in 2003 FD at Worlds in Washington DC-the US had just declared that they were going to invade Iraq. Canada was in opposition to the invasion. Wing & Lowe skated to a John Lennon medly, wearing peace symbols & tie dye. They finished to Imagine. I still tear up thinking about it.

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    Vancouver 2010, 247.23, Bronze
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    Chengjiang Li in the past season's SP:
    http://ru.youtube.com/watch?v=I9DMjl20zbU

    At exactly 3:00 there is a fragment of 'The Internationale' in his routine:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationale

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Political messages come in many shapes. Back in their eligible days, Moskvina & Mishin did a program to a song "Lame King". No message on the surface of it, but the mere fact of a program to a "bard" song, a genre that was so out of favor with the powers that be at the time, was a message in itself. Not to mention the subtle pacifism of the lyrics.

    BTW, here is a clip with the original program, together with my translation of the accompanying text - http://ptichkafs.livejournal.com/25249.html. And here is the remake they did of the program in 2007 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Y4rQpendI

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    Maybe I am over-analyzing this, but I always though that Sasha's decision to skate to "God Bless America" for the Olympic season meant something. Four years or so earlier it would have been very predictable to choose a patriotic song...but in 2006 things were not that well with the war in Iraq, President Bush was not well liked....there just wasn't a vast patiotic feeling in the U.S at that time. I think that she made a wonderful statement with the program. I still think it is one of her top 3 best programs ever.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue dog View Post
    Could it be argued, then, that Sonja Henie made a political statement herself by befriending Hitler?
    Absolutely not. All the Athletes were told to salute. Belita I believe, was the only one who didn't. How they saluted could be inferred I suppose. She used that straight arm salute.

    Sonia never befriended Hitler. He befriended her. It was after the l932 Olys when he went over to her and suggested she give up skiing and stick to figure skating.

    She remembered that, and in the early 1940s she called him up when she was in Hollywood, and told him not to bomb her house in Norway. You figure.

    According to Milton Berle who made movies with her, he said she was not pro anything but pro Sonia. She had no politics.

    Joe

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    Dreaming and dancing Bennett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    I think political statements in sports need to be handled very carefully so as not to do something that seems to cheapen tragic events. It might be better to skate a "normal" program and make one's political statements off the ice.
    That's a good point.

    I myself mainly appreciate the artistic side of skating so I basically appreciate a program that has some messages and meanings.

    On the other hand, it is also a sport. Furthermore, skating is judged rather subjectively. So it may not be a good idea to bring political controversy on ice.

    It also depends on the intention and the way you communicate it to the audience. I would find it difficult to appreciate a program if the skater is using an extremely tragic issue like the Holocaust just as a way of winning the game. It can be seen as a commercialization of a real tragedy. The skater needs really a lot of sensitivity and respect towards the victims not to hurt their feelings in any way. If the skater cannot be compassionate and sensitive enough, then it's better not to use it.
    It may be perhaps more appreciated to be used in a charity show that raises funds for the victims so that you can make it clearer that you are not using other people's suffering to make your own profit (you'd still need a lot of sensitivty and considerations in the way you present the theme).

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    Joe

    Excuse me Joe but we are talking semantics here. Henie should never have initiated any conversations with the Nazis, especially in order to receive favorable treatment from them while they occupied Norway. It was reprehensible and tarnished her image forever. Milton Berle was absolutely right. She was only out for herself.

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