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Thread: How are choreographies handed to skaters?

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    nefertiti..reincarnate
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    How are choreographies handed to skaters?

    This may be a beginners' question:
    How are choreographies handed to skaters?
    Are they drawn on papers? (if so, got to be many pages..)
    Or just told "do this and then do that" in gestures and words?

    I think I've seen somewhere a "choreography" in abstract symbols drawn like a music score.
    Maybe it was for modern dance, IIRC.

    If there are "drawn" choreographies for figure skating, I'd like to see samples of them, just for curiosity.
    Any websites?

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    i don't think they are handed in the us . i think the skaters chooses the choreography along with their coach. now with the other federations, i don't know. i think they may have to go along with who their federation chooses. but it looks like the other federations chooses the most successful choreographers to go with their best skaters. but than . it could be who the skater wants and what type of music they want to skate to.
    that is my guess

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    I have seen some notations of program layout with curves representing the paths of travel and symbols representing where the jumps or spins occur. The examples I've seen were from the 1960s -- IIRC Peggy Fleming has the layout of her program reproduced on the end papers of her book The Long Program (in the hardback version anyway).

    All it showed was the overall pattern, without breaking down each stroke, turn, and step. A more detailed pattern such as those found for the compulsory dances would be possible. There would also need to be some way of notating what the body is doing and not just the blades.

    I've never seen a choreographer just hand such a sheet of paper to the skater and say "Do this." Any notations that would be written down for the choreographer to remember what to teach the skater or for the skater to remember what to practice would be generated after trying the moves out on the ice.

    On those occasions when I've been at a rink and witnessed lower level skaters learning new choreography, the coach or choreographer always skated around and demonstrated. Not the actual jumps and spins, but all the skating in between, with indications of where the elements would come.

    I haven't seen many examples with higher level skaters, but my impression is that if the choreographer for some reason can't get out on the ice and demonstrate, they will go over the moves with the skater in a dance studio beforehand or at the boards, watch the skaters try them out on ice, and make adjustments from the boards.

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    nefertiti..reincarnate
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    Thank you gkelly, most interesting !

    You reminded me of a figure skating lesson book published for beginners (mostly girls) here in Japan. In it I think I've seen such curves with little triangle marks here and there.... I'll go to the bookstore tomorrow...
    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    There would also need to be some way of notating what the body is doing and not just the blades.
    ...Any notations that would be written down for the choreographer to remember what to teach the skater or for the skater to remember what to practice would be generated after trying the moves out on the ice.
    I suppose the choreographers each have some way of indicating everything on those curve lines.... if not they'll have difficulty in creating the programs.

    I also suppose there is a universal sign system in making the notations. There must be some common language among choreographers or else the skaters will be confused.

    And each program has ice coverage more than a dozen times so I can't imagine any choero in just one page.

    And maybe the basic values of CoP are jotted down on the sheets of choreo? (Choreos are designed to accumulate as much points as possible, aren't they?)
    Perhaps even where the judges are seated..?
    Last edited by sorcerer; 07-11-2008 at 09:10 AM. Reason: misspelling

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    Usually the chreographer and coach and student all create the program on the ice by listening to the music over and over, improvising, planning out which order the elements should be in .

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    Quote Originally Posted by sorcerer View Post
    I suppose the choreographers each have some way of indicating everything on those curve lines.... if not they'll have difficulty in creating the programs.
    Why? They don't create the programs on paper and then translate them to the ice.

    For the most part they create the programs on the ice -- often with back-and-forth input from the skater, as Tinymavy15 says -- and then they may or may not notate them on paper as a record.

    But it's perfectly possible to create a program without ever writing it down at all. Don't record it at all and just rely on memory. Or record it on video.

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    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    I am not a high level skater (adult Gold level) but this is how it works for me and seems to be typical of all the skaters at our rink (including skaters who were at the last Worlds):

    My choreo is created as a back and forth with my coach. Some things she lets me decide completely on my own (opening pose and how to get into the first "tippy toe" in my current program) and some things she's specific about (I want one back cross stroke to a step back to a twizzle in your good rotational direction).

    Once we have laid the steps out, I work on it for a week or two between lessons. The next lesson (or two lessons later) we do a full walk through (jumps and spins are "marked") and adjust or change any transitions that just aren't working for me. The following week, we add arm and head movements. I work on that for a week or two and we review and adjust/change what isn't working or what didn't quite sink in until it gels.

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    I should be studying!
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    During the '92 Olympics, NBC broadcast a fluff piece of Kristi's work with Sandra Bezic. Sandra had worked a lot of it out in her head before Kristi arrived. They worked on it on the ice and when Kristi's coach came, she recorded Kristi's practice runs.

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    nefertiti..reincarnate
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    Thank you everyone.

    Then, the making of choreographies in figure skating is more or less like making jazz or rock music where ad-hocism prevail, rather than classic music where you have the scores as medium, ... isn't it?

    But jazz and rock musicians do so as players themselves composing.
    Choreographer as someone specialized in figure skating and yet without any specific established medium is a bit surprising, come to think of it.

    Maybe in many cases the choreographer isn't the only one to be credited for; the performers themselves being the most deciding factor in the making of choreography. (?)

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    Custom Title antmanb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sorcerer View Post
    Thank you everyone.

    Then, the making of choreographies in figure skating is more or less like making jazz or rock music where ad-hocism prevail, rather than classic music where you have the scores as medium, ... isn't it?

    But jazz and rock musicians do so as players themselves composing.
    Choreographer as someone specialized in figure skating and yet without any specific established medium is a bit surprising, come to think of it.

    Maybe in many cases the choreographer isn't the only one to be credited for; the performers themselves being the most deciding factor in the making of choreography. (?)
    Just out of interest Sorcerer are you thinking of a dance discipline that does notate choreography? I don't know much about dance but are any forms of choreographed performance ever notated? In ballet for example are notated choreographies available? I would have thought that most chroegraphy is learnt and developed "on the job" rather than written down in advance and then given on paper to the learner.

    Ant

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    nefertiti..reincarnate
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    Quote Originally Posted by antmanb View Post
    Just out of interest Sorcerer are you thinking of a dance discipline that does notate choreography?
    Well, I don't know much about dance either, but some twenty years ago two modern ballet dancers, mother and daughter, used to live upstairs, and maybe it was then that I saw some kind of notations of dance.
    (They were admirers of Maurice Béjart.)

    The subject is written somewhere around here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choreography
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_notation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic...on_%28dance%29
    Last edited by sorcerer; 07-11-2008 at 09:06 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by antmanb View Post
    I would have thought that most chroegraphy is learnt and developed "on the job" rather than written down in advance and then given on paper to the learner. Ant
    That has been my experience in musical theatre and modern dance. Especially for large groups, the choreographer may have already worked out the steps and patterns in advance and may have made written notes of some kind, but the process of communicating them to the dancers takes place on the floor of the rehearsal studio, not on paper.


    (I remember one occasion when the choreographer had a broken hip and was on crutches so he couldn't demonstrate the choreography to the dancers himself. Once when he was inspired in the middle of the night, instead of writing down his ideas he woke up the dance captain, who was his roommate for the summer, to teach him dance through words and gestures, so that the dance captain could teach the rest of the company in rehearsal the next day.)


    For dance companies that want to keep a record of a dance perhaps to recreate it with other dancers at a future date, I believe that many do use video records these days.

    For competitive skating, the main point of the choreography is to showcase the skater's technical ability. Therefore, the choreographer's artistic vision may need to be changed or even compromised to allow the skater to execute the program to maximum competitive advantage, which is why there needs to be give-and-take on the ice with the skater and coach. And once the skater has learned the program, there's no need to write it down because no one else is going to skate that exact program again.

    For artistic skating in context such as ice theatre, the choreographer's vision can take precedence. Different skaters may need to take over another skater's role in a performance, or even perform the same solo on a different occasion. So in those cases some sort of record of the choreographer's intention would be useful in communicating to the new skater. But again, it might be on video rather than on paper.

    Here's an artistic (not competitive) work that was originally created for one skater and recreated 30 years later by another. The choreographer was not a skater, so the original performer did have a lot of input into the choreography. I haven't done a comparison of the two versions, but I know at least some of the choreography had to be mirror-imaged to accommodate the second skater's rotational preference:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXJqs...eature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W4-HXL_bbU

  13. #13
    Tripping on the Podium
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    No one at our rink writes down their programs as far as I am aware. I used to make diagrams for my daughter when she was very small - she didn't use them, but I did so that if she forgot part of her program I could tell her what was supposed to happen.

    For me, the process is slightly different depending on who is making the program. If I do it myself, I start with a list of elements I want to include. If any of them fit particularly well with a certain part of the music, that's where they go. Then I work out the order of the others so that there is a good flow between elements as well as good ice coverage. I memorize it as I go.

    If my primary coach does the program, she pretty much does the same thing I do as far as laying out the order of the elements. Then she sends me to my Russian ballet coach for finishing. My Russian coach does the arms and little presentation details like head angles and body position.

    Russian coach's husband, also Russian and ballet trained, most often makes my programs. He tends to improvise to the music, and we change things frequently. His wife will make adjustments, too, as we work on the presentation. Personally, I like it best when the movements originate in the music, but this is not always possible when you have to work in technical requirements.

    I "can" draw diagrams of the programs with my own symbols to help me remember, but I very seldom do it. Mostly I rely on memory. Things can change slightly each time, depending exactly where certain movements fall in relation to the music.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Ballet rehearsals use to use a script call Labanotations to record the choreographies. Nowadays, as soon as an old work is revised, or a new work is about to be presented, they use VCR Taping for record keeping.

  15. #15
    Tripping on the Podium
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    Well, my program was entirely re-choreographed (new music, etc) at skating camp. So, let me re-trace it all while it the process is clear. First, we listened to the music and spoke about what imagery or ideas it made us think of. We talked about what kinds of movements best illustrated our ideas. Then, my choreography coach showed my the layout, using only single jumps while I skated behind her copying her movements. I'm a good mimic, so this usually takes about 30 minutes. Then we come off the ice and I draw the diagram pattern of the routine using lines for direction and marks for jumps and spins. I then use a separate paper to write out, in full words, my footwork. Then we go back on the ice for about an hour to do my run throughs, breaking the pattern into sections. During this time my head coach video tapes me, and I watch the tape over the next few days before skating -- this is usually for the next 2 days. So, that's about it for me.

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