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Thread: Music and Skating

  1. #61
    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
    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 )

    hahahaha!! got any links to the "snarl of passion?

    it's a tricky thing. Probably the key is to get the technique down and really learn you program. Only then can you start thinking about facial expressions and such.
    I remember one too many times dancing and being so nervous that "facial expression" basically came down to plastering a jack-o-latern smile on my face until I left the stage. But that is why I was a total amateur and Michelle Kwan is star.

  2. #62
    Go marry the quad if you love it so much DesertRoad's Avatar
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    There is no dichotomy between being a figure skater and a dancer, figure skating is absolutely one of the many, many forms of dancing there are. You can dance on a boat, you can dance on a goat. You can dance on a moat, you can dance on Paul Vogt. The confusion that comes in, I suspect, is because of the very thing the thread title is about: music. Let's face it, there are a lot, A LOT of successful skaters who aren't particularly musical.

    Does this mean figure skating isn't a form of dancing, or a good form of it? Hell no! There are many other kinds of dance forms where musicality is not the priority. Watch a breakdancing competition, where tricks are prized. Or, ballroom competitions where couples seem to delight in using clashing music. I once saw this couple do a mambo or some such to an acapella rendition of the American anthem. It made no freaking sense musically. And then there's ballet. Oh yes, the hallowed form that's supposedly the ur-source of dancing. Classical ballet is a set of rigidly defined movement and angles, where toe points and exact extensions are paramount, and repetition is not only OK but necessary because there are only so many moves. To quote myself, "seeing dancers repeat a rond de jambe to the same three note motif in the score is as edifying as watching jazzercise". The emphasis on form and technique can overwhelm an honest expression of music in any dance style. Figure skating isn't alone in succumbing to that.

    And now, an appraisal in defense of Michelle Kwan. No, Kwan was never the most graceful, flexible or powerful of skaters. But I do think she was one of the most musical skaters ever. It's in the nuance of her movement, her edging (an important part of expressing music in skating), and yes, her facial expressions. Facial expression absolutely does count in expressing music and mood. It's the loudest part of body language. Kwan has always been masterful at expressing the mood of the choreography and music. Her Salome was pleading, possessed and built tension until the final cathartic release. And that was just her start. Years later, I was fully sold on her ability as an interpreter of sound when she did her one and only performance of Miraculous Mandarin. There, she revived the seductress archetype, but with some actual sexuality, flaunting perverse joy in every flick of the wrist and seductive shoulder roll. The music built, and she mimed the death throes in perfect harmony to the disharmonious music. Even in her less dramatic outings, Kwan has always been one with the phrasing of the score. She may not have skated to the vast variety of moods music can create, but she skated to quite a few of them and did exceptionally well. I would absolutely call her a great dancer.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    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?
    Probably because she didn't want to. Why did Sasha never skate to a country or R&B song? Michelle's exhibitions were all very different in my opinion. Do you think Sasha really showed any more versatility than Michelle? She used two up tempo exhibitions in her competitive career - HH and Don't Rain on My Parade. She also used that Romeo and Juliet exhibition piece for over three years....

    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    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.
    Here Michelle is skating to an R&B song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_c-4JdsroE

    Skating to A Song for You by Natalie Cole:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Mbf...eature=related

    Skating to On My Own from Les Mis
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysu4x5-xU_k

  4. #64
    she takes the audience on her journey of emotions Layfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRoad View Post
    There is no dichotomy between being a figure skater and a dancer, figure skating is absolutely one of the many, many forms of dancing there are. You can dance on a boat, you can dance on a goat. You can dance on a moat, you can dance on Paul Vogt. The confusion that comes in, I suspect, is because of the very thing the thread title is about: music. Let's face it, there are a lot, A LOT of successful skaters who aren't particularly musical.

    Does this mean figure skating isn't a form of dancing, or a good form of it? Hell no! There are many other kinds of dance forms where musicality is not the priority. Watch a breakdancing competition, where tricks are prized. Or, ballroom competitions where couples seem to delight in using clashing music. I once saw this couple do a mambo or some such to an acapella rendition of the American anthem. It made no freaking sense musically. And then there's ballet. Oh yes, the hallowed form that's supposedly the ur-source of dancing. Classical ballet is a set of rigidly defined movement and angles, where toe points and exact extensions are paramount, and repetition is not only OK but necessary because there are only so many moves. To quote myself, "seeing dancers repeat a rond de jambe to the same three note motif in the score is as edifying as watching jazzercise". The emphasis on form and technique can overwhelm an honest expression of music in any dance style. Figure skating isn't alone in succumbing to that.

    And now, an appraisal in defense of Michelle Kwan. No, Kwan was never the most graceful, flexible or powerful of skaters. But I do think she was one of the most musical skaters ever. It's in the nuance of her movement, her edging (an important part of expressing music in skating), and yes, her facial expressions. Facial expression absolutely does count in expressing music and mood. It's the loudest part of body language. Kwan has always been masterful at expressing the mood of the choreography and music. Her Salome was pleading, possessed and built tension until the final cathartic release. And that was just her start. Years later, I was fully sold on her ability as an interpreter of sound when she did her one and only performance of Miraculous Mandarin. There, she revived the seductress archetype, but with some actual sexuality, flaunting perverse joy in every flick of the wrist and seductive shoulder roll. The music built, and she mimed the death throes in perfect harmony to the disharmonious music. Even in her less dramatic outings, Kwan has always been one with the phrasing of the score. She may not have skated to the vast variety of moods music can create, but she skated to quite a few of them and did exceptionally well. I would absolutely call her a great dancer.
    It's in the nuance of her movement, her edging (an important part of expressing music in skating)
    This is something I wish I understood more. I'm sure I would understand it better if I knew how figure skaters trained ....

    I think your description of why Michelle was so special was much more eloquent than mine. Don't know about your description of ballet though. Ballet is a lot more dynamic than that. Choreography has only become more imaginative in the world of ballet in the past century. It's funny because I used to think figure skating was too rigid and was sort of stunted as a art form compared to ballet because it's a competitive Olympic sport and figure skating shows take a backseat. But I've since come to change my mind and appreciate the excitement and drama that being an Olympic sport gives to figure skating.

  5. #65
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    I think the main responsibility for combining skating and music is certainly that of the choreographer's. There are so many horrible examples of programs where the music and skating just don't meet.

    This season my favourites when it comes to the good combinations (not necessarily shining in every element) are Miki's SP (it's so beautifully subtle in it's way of creating drama), Flatt's SP (first of all a great version of the song, then making it all match it perfectly, especially the steps) and Laura's LP (she definitely owes a big thank you for her choreographers for getting high PCS scores, they're amazing in combining Laura's way of moving to the music). For this quality these are among my very favourite programs of the year although all of the skaters have some problems with certain parts of skating, well Miki not so much.

  6. #66
    Go marry the quad if you love it so much DesertRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Layfan View Post
    This is something I wish I understood more. I'm sure I would understand it better if I knew how figure skaters trained ....
    Oh, edging is easy to understand from an audience point of view. Just look at the skate blade on the ice and the various curves it traces, the angle it hits the ice, and its speed. The rest of a skater's movement sits entirely on top of that. A great example of edging and musicality is Daisuke Takahashi's circular step sequence in his SP this season. Perfect marriage of the two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Layfan View Post
    I think your description of why Michelle was so special was much more eloquent than mine. Don't know about your description of ballet though. Ballet is a lot more dynamic than that. Choreography has only become more imaginative in the world of ballet in the past century. It's funny because I used to think figure skating was too rigid and was sort of stunted as a art form compared to ballet because it's a competitive Olympic sport and figure skating shows take a backseat. But I've since come to change my mind and appreciate the excitement and drama that being an Olympic sport gives to figure skating.
    Modern dance does have a great deal more musical expression and variety. But I stand by my assessment of classical ballet.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRoad View Post
    And now, an appraisal in defense of Michelle Kwan. No, Kwan was never the most graceful, flexible or powerful of skaters. But I do think she was one of the most musical skaters ever. It's in the nuance of her movement, her edging (an important part of expressing music in skating), and yes, her facial expressions. Facial expression absolutely does count in expressing music and mood. It's the loudest part of body language. Kwan has always been masterful at expressing the mood of the choreography and music. Her Salome was pleading, possessed and built tension until the final cathartic release. And that was just her start. Years later, I was fully sold on her ability as an interpreter of sound when she did her one and only performance of Miraculous Mandarin. There, she revived the seductress archetype, but with some actual sexuality, flaunting perverse joy in every flick of the wrist and seductive shoulder roll. The music built, and she mimed the death throes in perfect harmony to the disharmonious music. Even in her less dramatic outings, Kwan has always been one with the phrasing of the score. She may not have skated to the vast variety of moods music can create, but she skated to quite a few of them and did exceptionally well. I would absolutely call her a great dancer.
    I completely agree. I always felt that Michelle sksted from somewhere inside the music, rather than skating to the music. I don't say this because I'm a fan of hers; rather, it's the other way around. I became a fan because of the way she skates. She uses every skill she has in service of the music, and that makes her skating far more effective than the mere sum of its parts. I love Sasha's spiral, 180 degrees of perfection. But Michelle's spiral is beautiful in a different way, an embrace of the music and the audience. And of course there's the matter of her "boot down" skills, the precision of her stroking and footwork. Whatever Kwan has, few if any other skaters come close to it.

  8. #68
    she takes the audience on her journey of emotions Layfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by i love to skate View Post
    Probably because she didn't want to. Why did Sasha never skate to a country or R&B song? Michelle's exhibitions were all very different in my opinion. Do you think Sasha really showed any more versatility than Michelle? She used two up tempo exhibitions in her competitive career - HH and Don't Rain on My Parade. She also used that Romeo and Juliet exhibition piece for over three years....



    Here Michelle is skating to an R&B song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_c-4JdsroE

    Skating to A Song for You by Natalie Cole:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Mbf...eature=related

    Skating to On My Own from Les Mis
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysu4x5-xU_k
    Thanks, these are gorgeous and amazingly, I hadn't seen them before ...

    First of all after seeing Michelle's beautiful spiral and very nice charlotte I feel compelled to say for the record that even though we have been describing Michelle as "not the most flexible" skater, we should member that even though Sasha and other are more stretchy than her, Michelle was in fact quite a flexible person.

    Second of all, it's all subjective but I'm not sure the videos really convinced me that Michelle was as versatile as dancer or more versatile than Sasha. Not sure I see a whole lot of R&B there ... just a whole lot of Michelle. Not to say it that isn't wonderful because it is.

    But Sasha did Romeo and Juliet. And she also did Rihana. And her skating _ the way she moves _ not just the music, is very different in those two pieces.... Michelle developed just one way of moving ... the Michelle way
    Last edited by Layfan; 02-02-2010 at 09:24 PM.

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by i love to skate View Post


    Here Michelle is skating to an R&B song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_c-4JdsroE

    Skating to A Song for You by Natalie Cole:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Mbf...eature=related

    Skating to On My Own from Les Mis
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysu4x5-xU_k

    Oh, my--"On My Own" is astounding. For those of you who haven't looked at it yet, it's an exhibition that Kwan skated shortly after the 1998 Olympics, when she won the silver behind Tara Lipinski. I know that Lipinski did a fine job at the Olympics, but when I see this program and realize that the judges passed over skating like this, where a character comes alive in a way that Meryl Streep would be proud of, I'm simply flabbergasted. I don't know about you, but ask me which I would rather watch--this, or a triple-triple...I know what I'd answer. That ending pose; wow.

    I don't know whether I could define what makes a musical skater, but I know it when I see it. It's a quality that makes a skater seem more alive than other skaters. More than that, it's a quality that makes me more alive as I'm watching it.

  10. #70
    Meanwhile in a parallel universe .... theresa's Avatar
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    Michelle was definitely not the most flexible skater, but she did have this unique skill of entrancing the audience with her emotions and her obvious passion and love for skating. To a lesser extent, Sasha was able to wow the audience with the positions that she was able to contort her body into. Personally, while I am a fan of Sasha, I really do believe that her uber-flexibilty is what enhanced her programs. Even in her beautiful spirals she was never able to achieve the deep edges and speed that Michelle had. IMO, both skaters skated WITH the music rather than skating TO the music though.

    And I am so happy that someone mentioned Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze before. Ever since SLC and the whole drama that emitted, B/S have not received their rightful recognition for being one of the most unique and beautiful pair skaters that they are. Their pefromance to "City Lights " and their exhibition "The Kid" should be included in the vault of the best figure skating performances!

  11. #71
    Constable , Costume Police colleen o'neill's Avatar
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    As a dance person , I had to learn to appreciate the edge and speed components of a spiral as well as position and extension.( It took a few years..) So I was glad when PJ Kwong pointed out the absolutely steady ,sure edge ( and change of edge ) of Suzuki's spiral at 4CC..and you know she's fast.commentators don't always point that out, but always rave over extension. It' gorgeous when a skater has a killer extension to top it off, but it's not everything. Michelle had a bit of both.

    Speaking of spirals, I notice some women grab their toe or the front of their blade in the side extension..I hate this as much as the I-spin.

    DesertRoad,you need to broaden your ballet horizons. It sounds like you've just been watching exercises at the barre....Anyway I think we were mostly touting ballet here as a foundation for other things...Skating too, has it's limitations... No beats. No fouettes, petite batons, cabriolles..( Thank God.Think of the blood on the ice.)
    Last edited by colleen o'neill; 02-03-2010 at 12:49 AM. Reason: Adding on

  12. #72
    Go marry the quad if you love it so much DesertRoad's Avatar
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    Those classical ballet stage shows are basically barre exercises with makeup and lighting. Zzz. Formalism is a dead end for creativity.

    Skating has plenty of formalist strictures, too. But it still has enough room for competitors to skate to everything from Bollywood to Cypress Hill, so I find the more stifling parts of skating easier to gloss over.

  13. #73
    she takes the audience on her journey of emotions Layfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRoad View Post
    Oh, edging is easy to understand from an audience point of view. Just look at the skate blade on the ice and the various curves it traces, the angle it hits the ice, and its speed. The rest of a skater's movement sits entirely on top of that. A great example of edging and musicality is Daisuke Takahashi's circular step sequence in his SP this season. Perfect marriage of the two.



    Modern dance does have a great deal more musical expression and variety. But I stand by my assessment of classical ballet.
    Re edging: Oh, is that all? I still wish I could watch skating with skaters more often to really appreciate edge work but I feel like I'm getting better ... slowly. Anyway, this is so far the nicest explanation I've had. Maybe I'll post it to my television. Thanks!

    Re ballet: Guess it depends on what you consider ballet and what you consider modern dance. I think the line between the two is increasingly blurred. Enjoy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43z3aQspFtc

    and you can't get much farther to Swan Lake than this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Sod7...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMI-E...eature=related
    Last edited by Layfan; 02-03-2010 at 01:58 AM.

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by i love to skate View Post

    Here Michelle is skating to an R&B song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_c-4JdsroE

    Skating to A Song for You by Natalie Cole:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Mbf...eature=related

    ]
    Sorry but musically speaking the R&B is average at best - then again , who knows how much time she may have spent on it?

    The ballad, where Michelle is more theatrical seems more effective. It is nice to watch but looks like a more relaxed version of her competitive style of skating.

    The Broadway show tune - surprise, surprise - another ballad.

    It might be fair to say Sasha showed similar qualities in her competitive skating and exhibition programs too. Maybe all skaters do.

    Not much versatility in these clips but I didin't mean to make such an issue of that. Michelle probably selected music that had meaning to her on a personal level - maybe the lyrics as much as the music.

    "On My Own" does not grab me - if anything it still makes me wonder why she left Carroll and Lori a few months before SLC ?

    I agree with an earlier comment - Michelle was not a dancer, she was a figure skater. A great and beautifully expressive skater with a long illustrious career.

    ETA: I think it speaks volumes about Michelle's character - that she was supportive of Sasha's return and identified with the struggle. It is easy for me to call Michelle the "Kween"
    Last edited by janetfan; 02-03-2010 at 04:25 AM.

  15. #75
    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Layfan View Post
    But Sasha did Romeo and Juliet. And she also did Rihana. And her skating _ the way she moves _ not just the music, is very different in those two pieces.... Michelle developed just one way of moving ... the Michelle way
    I really don't see Sasha being versatile - she skated to Rhianna in her professional career yes - but during her competitive career it was two broadwayish tunes, a couple ballads, and Romeo and Juliet. I don't see anymore versatility there Michelle displayed. That being said, I don't think a skater needs to be versatile in their music choices - especially in exhibitions.

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