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Thread: Music and Skating

  1. #46
    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    I meant to mention, if we can include Ex programs..Akiko's Tango Ex from 4CC..Costume, music, performance..WoW!

    If she gets to perform this in Vancouver ..the roof will come off the Coliseum. I adore it!.. and I believe it's Shae Lyn"s choreography..Is another Canadian choreographic giant emerging ? I'm just beyond impressed.

  2. #47
    she takes the audience on her journey of emotions Layfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colleen o'neill View Post
    both of Baiul's Swan Lakes are indelibly etched on my brain, white and black.

    Yag's Winter was the best thing he ever did.

    Usually it's the perfect performance of the program that gets you..but sometimes , I find a program stays with me even if I never saw it performed clean.
    That's one reason I can't get so enthused about Michelle's Aranjuez ( what I always think of when I think of her is the Fields of Gold Ex. )..This is because when I hear Aranjuez, what comes to mind is Takeshi Honda's FS to that music ( Lori Nichol, I think..and I'd have to check what year). Sadly ,he was having problems that year and I don't think we ever saw it clean...still makes me sad. It was an absolutely gorgeous program ,and he had such clear connection with the music..it spoiled my enjoyment of that music for any other skater for a long time.

    I think for this year,a lot is going to depend on how well the programs are skated at Olys as to whether they become truly iconic, or not... V/M's Mahler is already almost there and could be completely unforgettable in a couple of weeks.

    D/W's OD is already a classic ..while I really like their Phantom, for me last year's Samson & Delilah was just perfect for them.

    Other programs that might hold that potential for me :

    Either of Jeremy Abbot's programs

    Maybe Yuna's gershwin

    Either of Suzuki's programs , if clean... she sure knows how to pull out all the stops.

    Mmmm...I have to think some more.
    That's actually the way I felt about Sasha Cohen's Romeo and Juliet program. It's too bad she never really did it perfectly in competition and that we have to remember it as the program she fell twice in at the Olympics and lost the gold. But it is such a gorgeously choreographed program. For me it was more special than any of her competitor's programs. I loved the way she changed spin positions during one combination in time to different phrases in the music.

  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Actually, the initial question on this thread is an interesting one. Do we really remember and cherish the way a skater used music in a competitive performance, long after the preformance is over?

    I remember Ilia Kulik landing a huge quad at the 1998 Olympics. I don't remember what music was playing.

    The Battle of the Brians was thrilling. I do not remember what either of them skated to.

    Two of the most memorable performances of all time (for me) were Michelle Kwan's Red Violin and Song of the Black Swan, as performed at 2000 Worlds and 2001 Worlds. Although I remember the names of the programs, I cannot whistle the tunes of either of these pieces.(The farther a skater strays from Carmen, the harder is is to make the music memorable. )

    Exhibitions, now, that's another story. Michelle's East of Eden and Fields of Gold utilized every note. We can't imagine the performance without the music.
    You said the magic words, Song of the Black Swan...and I have to disagree respectfully with your conclusion there. Maybe because that routine is largely made up of a chamber work by Dvorak, a composition called the Dumky Trio, I remember almost all of the music with great affection. In fact, when I play a recording of the Dumky Trio, I think of Michelle's skate. I think that many skaters, certainly Michelle (particularly during the Lori Nichol years) and most especially the Russian skaters, give great meaning to their music because music has such meaning to them. The Moskvina skaters certainly used music very effectively. But then music means a lot to me, especially classical music. In fact, to me the farther a skater strays from Carmen, the easier it is to make the music memorable, because the chance is greater that the piece has not been used before. Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze (hope I spelled it correctly!) once skated to a haunting piece with wordless vocalise called the Concerto for Coloratura (I believe by Gliere). You're not going to hear that in every Regional and Sectional competition!

    I agree with a good many of you(and Bianchetti) who remarked that music is one of the elements that makes skating unique. Even the gymnastics floor exercise, which is done to music, has very little in common with skating. Music ferries the skating into our very souls. If the musicality of skating is neglected for any reason, it diminishes skating--I don't care how high the jumps are. Not that all skaters have to be poets, but I do hope there's a way to recognize that some skaters excel at this important skating element.

    What Paul Wylie skated to was the sound track of the Kenneth Branagh Henry V. I have to say, from then on, I've associated that music with him and not with either Branagh or King Henry. Now, there was a perfect marriage between a skater and his music choice.

  4. #49
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    I'm quite new to figure skating but I prefer skates where the skater reaches every note, does something new and combines such artistry with out-of-this-world atheleticism.

    Some examples come to mind: Kim Yu Na's Danse Macabre and Sheherazade (2009 Worlds), Jeremy Abbott's 2010 Nationals LP, Paul Wylie's 1992(?) Olympics LP and Michelle Kwan's Tosca (2006 Nationals I think), etc. I would add Michelle Kwan's Fields of Gold ex from SLC, because that honestly made me cry.

    The most memorable performances are, as Olympia says, where there is a marriage between the skater and the music. Unfortunately, the CoP often does not see it this way and performances become about counting points.

  5. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marrymeyunakim View Post
    I'm quite new to figure skating but I prefer skates where the skater reaches every note, does something new and combines such artistry with out-of-this-world atheleticism.

    Some examples come to mind: Kim Yu Na's Danse Macabre and Sheherazade (2009 Worlds), Jeremy Abbott's 2010 Nationals LP, Paul Wylie's 1992(?) Olympics LP and Michelle Kwan's Tosca (2006 Nationals I think), etc. I would add Michelle Kwan's Fields of Gold ex from SLC, because that honestly made me cry.

    The most memorable performances are, as Olympia says, where there is a marriage between the skater and the music. Unfortunately, the CoP often does not see it this way and performances become about counting points.
    I loooove Michelle's Tosca. It's from 2004, btw. I love her 1996 free skate of Salome as well. Fields of Gold made me tear up too.

    Fields of Gold in HQ
    (Seriously): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vveb9RTftM

    And I agree, a lot of CoP-engineered programs have become about counting points. Footwork is so bleh nowadays.

  6. #51
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    Heh - I love COP footwork. Even maestros like Yagudin don't impress me as much as skaters like Takahashi, Chan or Asada in that regard. Hell, I watch Flatt's SP footwork and I'm agog at it's energy, musicality and personality.

  7. #52
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    I have been wondering about the components of "musical skating."

    Dance qualities are important and like dancers we see that skaters are judged on their rhythmic ability and how well they skate to the pulse of the music.
    Use of body positions can also express music and we see this from dancers and skaters.

    There is also an important theatrical element and we see dancers and skaters using facial expressions as well as their arms and body positions to express drama, tranquilty, as well as humor.

    When I think of skaters who appear to be good dancers Oksana and Sasha come to mind - but Michelle not nearly as much.
    Yet Michelle is considered by many as a supremely musical skater.

    Is this where we can begin to see a difference between dancing and skating? I think Michelle was certainly a theatrical skater and through use of superior "boot down" technique used her body to express many nuances of the music in a way that seemd more expressive than many other skaters.

    Thinking about the theatrical aspects we see that Rachael can smile and show us a dramatic facial expression. She seems to have rhythmic abilty too. What does seem to be lacking at times is good posture, elegant positions and a natural dancer's grace.

    Some of that might have more to do with flexibilty. But Michelle was not the most flexible skater and did not have the long arms and legs we associate with dancers. Yet she still was able to show us beautiful positions and very graceful movements across the ice.

    Command of the ice, charisma, "it" factor or whatever we want to call it seems very important in skating.

    Michael Jordan had major "it" factor but because basketball is a real sport he still had to score and play defense in order to win a championship.

    Do skaters with big "it" factor still need to interpret their steps as musically as other skaters? Is a pose or flapping arms the same thing as a real transition? Does the "running man" really count for anything more than a laugh?

    We see pcs for certain skaters marked very high at times when they really haven't shown superior rhythmic or interpretive skill or very complex choreography.:frown2:

    We also see Abbot, a very musical skater - but one who shows a more personal and introverted style of skating getting about the same pcs as skaters who are showing much less music interpretation with simpler choreo and easier transitions.

    Maybe Jeremy needs to add the "moonwalk" to his repertoire in order for his artistry to be better recognized
    Last edited by janetfan; 02-02-2010 at 10:00 AM.

  8. #53
    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    Yes whenever I heard Rota's R&J now I will thik of Sasha program. And none will compare. She was just so far above the others in interprttaion if emtion, character.

  9. #54
    she takes the audience on her journey of emotions Layfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    I have been wondering about the components of "musical skating."

    Dance qualities are important and like dancers we see that skaters are judged on their rhythmic ability and how well they skate to the pulse of the music.
    Use of body positions can also express music and we see this from dancers and skaters.

    There is also an important theatrical element and we see dancers and skaters using facial expressions as well as their arms and body positions to express drama, tranquilty, as well as humor.

    When I think of skaters who appear to be good dancers Oksana and Sasha come to mind - but Michelle not nearly as much.
    Yet Michelle is considered by many as a supremely musical skater.

    Is this where we can begin to see a difference between dancing and skating? I think Michelle was certainly a theatrical skater and through use of superior "boot down" technique used her body to express many nuances of the music in a way that seemd more expressive than many other skaters.

    Thinking about the theatrical aspects we see that Rachael can smile and show us a dramatic facial expression. She seems to have rhythmic abilty too. What does seem to be lacking at times is good posture, elegant positions and a natural dancer's grace.

    Some of that might have more to do with flexibilty. But Michelle was not the most flexible skater and did not have the long arms and legs we associate with dancers. Yet she still was able to show us beautiful positions and very graceful movements across the ice.

    Command of the ice, charisma, "it" factor or whatever we want to call it seems very important in skating.

    Michael Jordan had major "it" factor but because basketball is a real sport he still had to score and play defense in order to win a championship.

    Do skaters with big "it" factor still need to interpret their steps as musically as other skaters? Is a pose or flapping arms the same thing as a real transition? Does the "running man" really count for anything more than a laugh?

    We see pcs for certain skaters marked very high at times when they really haven't shown superior rhythmic or interpretive skill or very complex choreography.:frown2:

    We also see Abbot, a very musical skater - but one who shows a more personal and introverted style of skating getting about the same pcs as skaters who are showing much less music interpretation with simpler choreo and easier transitions.

    Maybe Jeremy needs to add the "moonwalk" to his repertoire in order for his artistry to be better recognized
    You have raised a great question that I've puzzled over in my head - what was it about Michelle that made her so great?
    First of all, one thing about Michelle that I always loved was that she rarely cheated her positions. (She did sometimes but just barely and very rarely.) If she did a spiral or a spin she would get her leg up as high as it would go without lifting her hip or bending her standing knee too much. Therefore, even though her flexibility wasn't as breathtaking as Sasha's, Michelle also was a skater who never got into an ugly position. You didn't see Michelle doing an atrocious I-spin just to get points. Her skating was honest. Since I'm a former dancer I have a prejudice on this point. If your ballet teacher is worth anything, no way will she let you "cheat" just to get your leg up a little higher. It drives me bonkers that so many skaters are able to get away with it.

    Also, I think Michelle WAS a good dancer. Here's how: If Sasha had chosen to become a ballerina I think she would have gone pretty far. Michelle, not so much. You just can't join professional ballet companies unless you can do the type of positions that Sasha does. But Michelle would have gone far as a dancer anyway. She would have been an amazing modern dancer, maybe. She can move very very well. She found her own style and she perfected it and stayed true to it. For some it might have become a bit repetitive after a while but for most people Michelle became "Michelle" and nobody could do what she did on the ice. It's one of the things that makes figure skating so different from ballet, and that I have really come to appreciate: how individualistic skating is at the highest levels, and how so many different body types can go so far in the sport.

    As to your broader question of whether skaters with an "it" factor still have be musical I guess we'll just have to see, huh? Only conclusion I can come to is that I think Jeremy would do a pretty mean moonwalk. No seriously, I think Jeremy has the potential to skate to all sorts of things. Maybe he SHOULD broaden things about a bit....

  10. #55
    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I am a musician but I am NOT a dancer. I agree that Michelle was expressive enough and disciplined enough that she could have succeeded in carving out a niche for herself whether it was dance or gymnastics, or whatever she chose.

    That said, she did not display the type of versatilty that Oksana or Sasha did. I still wonder why we never saw Michelle cut loose to an uptempo jazz piece, or anything very syncopated?

    I wonder why we never saw Michelle skate to a "Hernados Hideaway" or a "Don't Rain On My Parade"? Or some funk or uptempo Rock?

    Some have said she used the same formula over and over, and aside from serious sounding classical music her only other choice was a pop ballad. And that is for a very long career. If she ever skated to a perky broadway tune I must have missed it. There must be a reason that Michelle never broke from her formula and I wondered if it was a lack of Dance skill. At the least, it makes one wonder about a lack of demonstrated versatility.

    It would be nice to hear from some more dancers about this.

  11. #56
    she takes the audience on her journey of emotions Layfan's Avatar
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    Yes, I think it was a lack of dance skill. It's bit the point I was trying to make in reverse. (I was giving it a positive spin.) Michelle was a good enough dancer. But she couldn't have been a ballerina - at least not at the highest levels. And maybe also she wouldn't have been as good a jazz dancer as Sasha. There's saying in the world of dance that if you can do ballet you can do anything. It's a truism that may only go so far. But that's sort of why you can picture Sasha doing just about any sort of dance. You just throw her the steps and she can do it. Not Michelle. But luckily for Michelle, she was a figure skater, not a dancer and in the career she chose it was okay that she chose a formula and stuck to it. After all, it's mostly about winning competitions.

    ETA: People talk about "grace" and "artistry" all the time and I think it sometimes gets a bit lost that in disciplines like figure skating and ballet - especially figure skating _ it takes a great deal of physical ability to be graceful and artful. It seems like if a skater has great footwork sequences that's counted toward their "artistry" but it takes great athleticism - a lot of work and quite a few natural gifts probably _ to be able to do sharp footwork sequences.

    Obviously, jumps are hugely important in figure skating. But from my perspective, if a skater's footwork sequences or spins are sluggish, it means they have something lacking in the athletics department, too.
    Last edited by Layfan; 02-02-2010 at 03:59 PM.

  12. #57
    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    Good points,[B] janetfan/B] . .

    I think where we sometimes go wrong is by confusing facial expression with musicality. Maybe we need to recognize that it's possible to emote with the body as well as the face. What a skater's feeling, emotionally, may have a more subtle expression on the face and still move me because of their overall expression, but no amount of facial contortion can move me if the skater is not interpreting the music with his/her body.

    Since you mention Jeremy , let's just take him as an example .( Though there are many others) He feels the music with his whole body..and not just each beat , but every 1/2 and 1/4 beat in between, so that his movements fill all of the music, and if he moves into half time, or double time, or some little syncopation, he can always come smoothly and perfectly back into time. All of the music is used. Watching him, we experience the music fully through his movements.

    Some skaters have this ability naturally , some might have gained it through some form of dance training ( or Gymnastics , or whatever).. it can be taught , to a degree. Those who are naturally gifted will probably always be better , but anyone can improve. I'm just talking about being one with the music here, apart from position, line etc.

    E.G. In adult recreational dance classes , you can often see results immediately, when students learn to use that.. "AND"..before the beat..breathe in on the AND, begin...if they're jumpimg , knee bend on the AND, spring..arm movements, slight lift of the arm or reverse motion AND,begin..Eventually many will be using it on their own without being reminded, and their overall musicality improves.

    The "It" factor can add an extra dimension...but it just annoys me when it's all used in the promotion of the skater and the program becomes incidental. Plushenko is the major offender here. Amazing athlete..programs bore me to tears. It all looks the same and they're all about " I'm #1..I can moonwalk..I can stand still and wiggle my pelvis."..what a waste of a phenomenal talent.
    Last edited by colleen o'neill; 02-02-2010 at 05:23 PM. Reason: correction

  13. #58
    she takes the audience on her journey of emotions Layfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colleen o'neill View Post
    Good points,[B] janetfan/B] . .

    I think where we sometimes go wrong is by confusing facial expression with musicality. Maybe we need to recognize that it's possible to emote with the body as well as the face. What a skater's feeling, emotionally, may have a more subtle expression on the face and still move me because of their overall expression, but no amount of facial contortion can move me if the skater is not interpreting the music with his/her body.

    Since you mention Jeremy , let's just take him as an example .( Though there are many others) He feels the music with his whole body..and not just each beat , but every 1/2 and 1/4 beat in between, so that his movements fill all of the music, and if he moves into half time, or double time, or some little syncopation, he can always come smoothly and perfectly back into time. All of the music is used. Watching him, we experience the music fully through his movements.

    Some skaters have this ability naturally , some might have gained it through some form of dance training ( or Gymnastics , or whatever).. it can be taught , to a degree. Those who are naturally gifted will probably always be better , but anyone can improve. I'm just talking about being one with the music here, apart from position, line etc.

    E.G. In adult recreational dance classes , you can often see results immediately, when students learn to use that.. "AND"..before the beat..breathe in on the AND, begin...if they're jumpimg , knee bend on the AND, spring..arm movements, slight lift of the arm or reverse motion AND,begin..Eventually many will be using it on their own without being reminded, and their overall musicality improves.

    The "It" factor can add an extra dimension...but it just annoys me when it's all used in the promotion of the skater and the program becomes incidental. Plushenko is the major offender here. Amazing athlete..programs bore me to tears. It all looks the same and they're all about " I'm #1..I can moonwalk..I can stand still and wiggle my pelvis."..what a waste of a phenomenal talent.
    Facial expressions definitely won't make up for being unmusical or ungraceful. But facial expressions are still important. Watch Mirai's Carmen at SC. She was musical and eveything. But she looked so stony faced out there that she didn't sell it at all. At nationals it was a totally different story.

  14. #59
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Layfan View Post
    ... (Michelle) was a figure skater, not a dancer...
    That's the whole thing right there. She was a figure skater.

    I think that is also the answer to the question of why she never performed to Broadway tunes or jazz. When Michelle took the ice the audience had certain expectations. She never let us down.

  15. #60
    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    Mirai's Carmen at US Nat.'s was wonderful, and I completely agree that you want expression, as opposed to none.
    But I was thinking of say Jeremy's facial expression in his LP...subtle , but to my mind, expressive. It's with me to show emotion more strongly if the skater really feels it , or if they can make me think it's natural... So often it seems coached and used as a substitute for actually trying to feel the music. With women, I have a particular aversion to what I think of as "The Snarl of Passion". ..I think it originated with Bestemianova , and used to be observable only in Ice Dance....Now it's everywhere ; singles , pairs..I can't help imagining the poor kids gorming away into a mirror for hours, trying to perfect it.

    ( one of my bugaboos )

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