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Thread: What Defines a Musical Skater?

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    Fascinating thread. I've never really thought about qualifying the difference between "artistic" and "musical" because I tend to favour the athleticism above all else (I don't see figure skating as an art), but it's been really neat to read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    Fascinating thread. I've never really thought about qualifying the difference between "artistic" and "musical" because I tend to favour the athleticism above all else (I don't see figure skating as an art), but it's been really neat to read.
    I think a certain consensus has been reached that this is a very subjective topic. It is not easy to agree on the meaning of the question let alone the answers

    But we do hear about skaters being referred to as artistic, musical, dramatic, lyrical, bravura, expressive, and certainly athletic.

    There seem to be many interesting and differing opinions about it.

    Who are the athletic skaters? And what other qualities do athletic skaters need to get themselves on the podium?

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    Well, I think a skater like Elvis Stoijko got on the podium for the sheer breadth of his athleticism. He was a very powerful skater. Timothy Goebel and Surya Bonaly as well. Midori Ito.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    Well, I think a skater like Elvis Stoijko got on the podium for the sheer breadth of his athleticism. He was a very powerful skater. Timothy Goebel and Surya Bonaly as well. Midori Ito.
    What about today? Mao does 3A's ? Joannie is considered a powerful and graceful skater.

    What about Joubert or Evan? Those two are not considered ballet dancers, but have won championships and many medals. And what about Plushenko? Would he be considered an athletic skater?

    I think an athletic skater can also have other qualities. I do remember seeing Elvis skate Live and he was way more impressive to me than he was on TV.
    I have heard others say the same thing about Evan, that in person he is more exciting.

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    I wouldn't consider any of the skaters you mention as predominantly athletic skaters, in the sense that all other elements (artistry, musicality, showmanship) are dwarfed by it. I guess Evan Lysacek could be considered, but I think Joubert's a showman through and through; that Mao Asada's almost reckless artistry makes her very engaging (though she is extremely athletic). Don't really know about Joannie, though I can definitely see why her name would come up

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    I wouldn't consider any of the skaters you mention as predominantly athletic skaters, in the sense that all other elements (artistry, musicality, showmanship) are dwarfed by it. I guess Evan Lysacek could be considered, but I think Joubert's a showman through and through; that Mao Asada's almost reckless artistry makes her very engaging (though she is extremely athletic). Don't really know about Joannie, though I can definitely see why her name would come up
    But one of the things that surprised me when I saw Elvis skate Live was his showmanship.
    I dont know if just being athletic is enough in today's skating world.
    When I mentioned Joanie it wasn't to suggest she is not artistic - in fact going back, Dorothy Hamill was referred to at times as being an athletic skater.

    It sounds like you are describing a one -dimensional type of skater - but I am sure that is not what you mean.
    If there are no pure athletic skaters today - what would be the reason(s) for that?

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    I have been thinking about the "heritage" of "musical skating.
    From what I have seen and read the level of musical interpretation we look and hope for today began with Janet Lynn. Did it start sooner?

    Looking at USA Ladies I think the next great musical skater was Kristi. Without getting into a comparison I think it continued on with Michelle and Sasha.

    What about European or Asian Ladies? There must be some of them, whether they were WC's or not who could also be considered musical skaters.

    I think of Chen-Lu and Yuko Sata. I really liked both ot them - and found their skating different but equally enjoyable. And for me, Shizuka skates like a dream.

    What about Kat? Her resume is untouchable in the modern era and surely she was not just a more attractive version of Trixie Schuba with a better costume.

    Irina has already been rejected and a few don't even think she was an artist on the ice. How is it possible that none of the Russian or German ladies from the recent past have not been considered musical skaters? It is somewhat ironic that the music from German and Russian composers is used over and over by skaters. (OK, Bizet was French )

    When we argue over Michelle vs Sasha I wonder about other ladies? Weren't any of them musical skaters too?
    Last edited by janetfan; 07-15-2009 at 03:44 PM.

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    Tim Goeble

    When Timmy Goeble was a young skater he was Elvis and Frank Sinatra all rolled into one. When he grew up he was neither artistic nor musical.

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    I can understand a discussion on Musicality. We are obliged to watch the skating tricks be judged while listening to music, and I can freely say that a certain skater (not necessarily my favorite) has a lot of music in his/her body. It's there to see without any reference to nationality. However, I am convinced the Sport should dump the music and judge the elements only. When you think of a Worlds Championship and watch 30 skaters and only one or two have musicality (and don't medal, by the way) what is the point of using music?

    This leads right into Art. Should these skaters be ranked with DaVinci? Beethoven? Shakespeare? Cervantes? Ulanova? Callas? Kurosawa? Streep? to name just a few?

    I do believe in the Art Of as in the art of athletics, of plumbing, of embroidery, of cabinetry, and so many other crafts which are special to all concerned. I could put certain Figure Skaters in that grouping, but not along side of DaVinci.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    I can understand a discussion on Musicality. We are obliged to watch the skating tricks be judged while listening to music, and I can freely say that a certain skater (not necessarily my favorite) has a lot of music in his/her body. It's there to see without any reference to nationality. However, I am convinced the Sport should dump the music and judge the elements only. When you think of a Worlds Championship and watch 30 skaters and only one or two have musicality (and don't medal, by the way) what is the point of using music?

    This leads right into Art. Should these skaters be ranked with DaVinci? Beethoven? Shakespeare? Cervantes? Ulanova? Callas? Kurosawa? Streep? to name just a few?

    I do believe in the Art Of as in the art of athletics, of plumbing, of embroidery, of cabinetry, and so many other crafts which are special to all concerned. I could put certain Figure Skaters in that grouping, but not along side of DaVinci.

    Good points Joe - but first off, there is music - and there has been music for a long time in figure skating. Whether some of us like it or not, we hear the terms "musical, artistic, lyrical, dramatic and athletic" used to describe skaters all of the time.

    I understand you are expressing a purist pov - but couldn't one also say no more music for ballet or modern dance too? And just forget the story and choreography and only judge Dancers on how they perform various elements?

    Maybe you have a good idea - part of skating could go back to something along the lines of school figures, expanded to include jumps and other elements. The problem I see there is getting people into the arenas to watch it - let alone any type of TV coverage.

    But aside from all of that - is it fair from almost any pov to compare Michelle or Yagudin or any skater to Leonardo Da Vinci? You seem prejudiced against the art of mathematics and physics by not using Sir Isaac Newton. He was brilliant and had about as much in common to figure skating as Da Vinci, Michelangelo or Bellini.

    I also don't see why you think it is wrong to think of a skater's nationality (my last post was broader and thought in continental regions). There are schools of skating that have more or less existed although today they are less defined.
    I was just watching Kat from 1984 and she was so totally different than Roz Sumners - there is no doubt that one represented a Euro style of skating and the other a North American style. Maybe that is less apparent today with coaches and skaters living and training all over the world.
    But I don't see what is wrong with asking about the "musicality" of European Lady skaters since none of them were mentioned (except negatively) in a topic about "skating and musicality."
    Did I misunderstand the meaning of your post?
    Last edited by janetfan; 07-15-2009 at 05:31 PM.

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    I have been thinking about the "heritage" of "musical skating.

    From what I have seen and read the level of musical interpretation we look and hope for today began with Janet Lynn. Did it start sooner?
    I wish we had footage from the days of Jackson Haines, who was the first skater to perform to music. He must have hired live musicians to stand by the side of the pond and play. Since he was a former ballet teacher, I would imagine he used music from that genre, but I don't really know. (He couldn't have used Swan Lake, though. He died the year it was composed.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    I wish we had footage from the days of Jackson Haines, who was the first skater to perform to music. He must have hired live musicians to stand by the side of the pond and play. Since he was a former ballet teacher, I would imagine he used music from that genre, but I don't really know. (He couldn't have used Swan Lake, though. He died the year it was composed.)
    There is a strong musical heritage in America going back to the Civil War era when every regiment had their own band. Also American popular songs by composers like Stephen Foster were popular in the USA as well as Europe.

    In the late 19th century there were many local and professional touring brass bands in the USA, partially a carry over from our British heritage but also because of the Civil War miltary band tradition.
    My grandfather was a bandleader for 20 years after previously playing in touring bands when he was younger.

    There are many brass band and symphonic band "warhorses", many of them transcriptions of European classics.
    Of course the most famous bandleader was the "March King" JP Sousa. One of the most famous bands was the Goldman band from NYC which is still in existence. The star performer of these bands was the lead cornet player. And Euphonium soloists were also common.

    There were municipal or Town bands, in rural areas there were county bands and of course some famous Circus bands. In cities there were police bands, fire department bands, as well as neighborhood bands. There were many miltary bands and also youth bands. There were rubber bands and band aids A classic from the American music theater is Meridith Wilson's "The Music Man" which is about a small town in Iowa starting a youth band.

    I suspect if Haines used Live music it would have been played by some type of brassband. Strings are murderous to play outside in cold or damp weather and woodwinds dont project well enough unless the performance is in a dell like setting.
    Last edited by janetfan; 07-15-2009 at 08:30 PM.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    Good points Joe - but first off, there is music - and there has been music for a long time in figure skating. Whether some of us like it or not, we hear the terms "musical, artistic, lyrical, dramatic and athletic" used to describe skaters all of the time.
    Of course music has been around skating since Jackson Haines first joined music and skating in professional shows. It was not judged - just praised like barrel jumping.

    I understand you are expressing a purist pov - but couldn't one also say no more music for ballet or modern dance too? And just forget the story and choreography and only judge Dancers on how they perform various elements?
    I do say no more music but not for professional dances. Just for athletic competitions. Like a horse and carriage, music and dance go hand and hand long before Haines came up with the idea using it for skating. But Athletics and music? Music was used in competitive skating as a gimmick since it proved very profitable for professional skating. It did attract some kids to dress up and have fun. It was and still is a type of Pagaent-like competition more than a serious sport. Much ado about makeup, costumes, posing and yes, a little day music. All the elements in a good little girl's pagaent, I would say. Artistry - never. Talent - Maybe.

    Maybe you have a good idea - part of skating could go back to something along the lines of school figures, expanded to include jumps and other elements. The problem I see there is getting people into the arenas to watch it - let alone any type of TV coverage.
    Please, I never mentioned school figures. You'll have other posters quoting that I want to go back to school figures. I was thinking of Diving. Each contestant has a choice of 5 different Dives which all have base values. Familiar? That could be expanded to Jumps, Spins, and Footwork., and no music for the SP. Strictly Technical with GoEs. I would then consider a musical routine of Free Skating as second segment for inclusion for the Final Result. That's Free skating- not with all those restrictions of CoP. If the Sport loses its 'little girl' look, I think attendance would increase. There are no plans for TV coverage for figure skating after the 2010 Olys. Nothing to do with lack of music. BTW, do you believe that Sports main object is to make money? and not find which team is the greater that year?

    But aside from all of that - is it fair from almost any pov to compare Michelle or Yagudin or any skater to Leonardo Da Vinci? You seem prejudiced against the art of mathematics and physics by not using Sir Isaac Newton. He was brilliant and had about as much in common to figure skating as Da Vinci, Michelangelo or Bellini.
    c'mon. Do you really think I should list all the historical great artists both creative as well as performing. If you read those I listed, you will find a ver diverse group. Furthermore, discussing Newton as a great artist is a bit of a stretch. He was for me. probably the greatest of all scientists.


    I also don't see why you think it is wrong to think of a skater's nationality (my last post was broader and thought in continental regions). There are schools of skating that have more or less existed although today they are less defined.
    I was just watching Kat from 1984 and she was so totally different than Roz Sumners - there is no doubt that one represented a Euro style of skating and the other a North American style. Maybe that is less apparent today with coaches and skaters living and training all over the world.
    But I don't see what is wrong with asking about the "musicality" of European Lady skaters since none of them were mentioned (except negatively) in a topic
    about "skating and musicality."
    I certainly had equal time for all those nationalities I listed as true great artists.
    With the advent of Air Tranportation and TV, the exchange in all the Arts and Sports have now blended and it's one of the reasons, I do not have a favorite American skater.

    Did I misunderstand the meaning of your post?
    Only you can answer that.
    Last edited by Joesitz; 07-15-2009 at 07:58 PM.

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    re: Athletic skaters...

    I don't mean one-dimensional, exactly. I may be talking out of my a** here, but here goes.

    Obviously, any figure skater that achieves a degree of international success is practically, by definition, a good athlete.

    For me, if I described a skater as athletic that would mean the athletic component was the driving force for them. The reason I wouldn't include someone like Brian Joubert is because his showmanship doesn't derive predominantly from his athleticism, but from things like his music choices (appealing techno/Euro-house dance beats) and "bigger" choreography alongside athleticism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    However, I am convinced the Sport should dump the music and judge the elements only. When you think of a Worlds Championship and watch 30 skaters and only one or two have musicality (and don't medal, by the way) what is the point of using music?
    I don't think it's that bad, Joesitz. I mean, looking at the guys this year, I'd say Lysacek, Chan, Verner, Kozuka, D. Ten, and Contesti all used the music in their programs to create an interesting, cohesive unit. I also think skaters like Takahashi, Oda,

    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz
    This leads right into Art. Should these skaters be ranked with DaVinci? Beethoven? Shakespeare? Cervantes? Ulanova? Callas? Kurosawa? Streep? to name just a few?
    Agreed, and I think that's partially why I don't consider figure skating an art. Artistic? Absolutely. But can one really compare a great figure skating program to a great book? Or movie? Etc. And more than that, given that figure skating offers reinterpretations of existing works (re: music), is it really fair to do so?

    I think the rules/restrictions on free skating makes it more of a sport, truth be told. Otherwise, it might as well be Calvinball.
    Last edited by ImaginaryPogue; 07-15-2009 at 09:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    re: Athletic skaters...

    For me, if I described a skater as athletic that would mean the athletic component was the driving force for them. The reason I wouldn't include someone like Brian Joubert is because his showmanship doesn't derive predominantly from his athleticism, but from things like his music choices (appealing techno/Euro-house dance beats) and "bigger" choreography alongside athleticism. .
    OK - thanks for your reply and I think I get your point better now.
    I mentioned Elvis last night - and said I was surprised by his showmanship when I saw him Live. But I saw him at a COI show - so of course his skating was different than at a competitive event.

    As to the rest of the question I will get back tomorrow on the part which originated from Joe. I think it is interesting - but should be a different or new topic since it is about a major overhaul of skating competitions.

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