CoP footwork and slow music
Do they mix?
This question was brought to the fore by Rachael Flatt's zippy footwork sequence in her new East of Eden short program.
Points is points. Is it possible to squeeze the maximum in CoP levels and GOEs out of your footwork section and still make it go with the music, in the case of a languid and lyrical tune?
Or is it a smarter plan to adapt the music by shoe-horning in a "fast part?"
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I don't know if they fit, at all, because of the features and levels you must achieve. There have been plenty of programs that have slow music with fast footwork, just so the skater can maximize the points. I remember Michelle Kwan having a program to the adagio from Spartacus, and the footwork section was fast, but the music was slow, and sweeping.
I think this is why we may start to hear the same songs again and again, because skaters are forced to skate against the tempo in order to fit the CoP. Either that, or they have to re-orchestrate some pieces, just to match the tempo (Webster and Kravette, pre-COP ice dancers had their version of Phantom of the Opera re-orchestrated in 1995 to match ice dance rules).
Skaters can always schedule the slow music for the second footwork sequence assigned level 1 for all. I think the idea is to let skaters express themselves artistically in that section without needing to satisfy feature requirements.
Because music is so important to me, I find it a bit distressing to watch people bopping feverishly to a lyrical ballad. I didn't even feel completely comfortable with the footwork passage in Michelle's 2001 version of East of Eden (which was choreographed as a short program, unlike the exhibition version of 1995-1998). So Rachael's rendition of it certainly didn't float my boat.
I therefore don't know how to answer your very good question, Math. A short program is short enough so that two very different pieces might be just as jarring as a single slow melody with a footrace going on while it's playing.
I guess a really skillful music editor could make it work. Lori Nichol used to be that person, though I've questioned a good few of her music choices lately. Some of the music splicing she did for Michelle (clearly her true muse) was out-and-out magical. For example, the beginning of the 1998 Rachmaninoff was a section from his piano trio, which then segued into the concerto section. In Lyra Angelica, she inserted a small stretch of one of Erik Satie's Gymnopedies. I don't even like the Gymnopedies. But I love that small stretch of it in Lyra Angelica. I guess that kind of expertise and outright sorcery is what it will take to make the footwork segment work with suitable music in an otherwise slow piece.
Otherwise, I fear many skaters won't be skating to the music. They will merely be skating while music happens to be playing.
Last edited by Olympia; 02-01-2011 at 12:28 AM.
Like subtlety in ice dancing
This is A) not new and B) not restricted to just footwork. You will see skaters doing fast or sudden moves to lulls in the music. Even in freaking exhibition programs you will see skaters ending in a scratch spin even though the music is slowing down and fading out! It makes no sense!
This crap happened even under 6.0. With the front loading of jumps that almost all high level skaters favor, you will see skaters build up speed, tense up, put on their game faces for those big jumps, even though the music is still in its early softer sections, and there's no crescendo or beat to go with the jumps.
The tempo of spins often don't go with the tempo of the music, like I said above. Happens even more in competitive programs, of course.
I do agree that this has gone out of control with the footwork under the COP. Look at this ish that's mandatory for a step sequence to get level 4:
Must include at least 5 different types of turns and 3 different types of steps all executed at least once in both directions.
What are the types of turns? three turns, twizzles, brackets, loops, counters, rockers.
What are the types of steps? toe steps, chasses, mohawks, choctaws, curves with change of edge, cross-rolls, running steps.
And that is just one of the level features (though a mandatory one) for level 4 footwork.
Level 3 footwork is more doable:
Must include at least 9 turns and 4 steps, none of the types can be counted more than twice.
But still very complex. Now given that high level skaters need time to do other crap in their program, they have to get through the footwork asap and at least aim for level 3 so as not to leave points on the table, they're going to be twisting and turning like they are having an epileptic seizure while waiting in line for the bathroom.
This is emblematic of one of the biiiiig glaring nasty cancerous problem of the COP: prizing complexity over quality. Yes, complexity is difficult and challenging, but is that the main priority in skating? You know what would be really complex and difficult to challenge skaters to do? Make them read and translate latin during a spin. Would that actually lead to enjoyable and beautiful skating for the audience? Not for most of them. The COP desperately needs to dial back on making every level feature on every move about complexity. Doing a move smoothly and beautifully with good control, now that should be a level feature. I'm looking at you, death spirals under the COP.
So take out the insane amount of steps and turns required for a high level footwork. Make skaters demonstrate their proficiency in doing different turns and steps in the transition and skating skills mark, which is what those marks are supposed to reflect anyway. Or if judges can't be trusted to count the number and variety of steps and turns throughout a program, make that an additional thing for the tech panel to call. Make them count up all the varieties of turns and steps throughout a program, then assign a separate technical element base mark for that. This way skaters who can do all those steps and turns can actually spread them out to when it's appropriate in the music, giving them more flexibility in constructing a program with a high base mark.
I think it can be done. It just requires a higher degree of skill to earn the levels as well as GOEs.
Some examples from earlier this season:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4kh5R2w0i4 (first element) -- level 3, 1s and 0s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_m1MS-2HzQ (fifth element) -- level 4, 0s and 1s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRy8EA7-HfA (tenth element) -- level 3, 1s and 2s
That only applies to the senior men's long program, though. All other levels and disciplines only have one step sequence.
Originally Posted by SkateFiguring
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Serious Business' post actually reminded me of a 6.0 free dance where the skaters purposely skated against the beat-- Krylova and Ovsiannikov's Masquerade Waltz (choreographed by Linichuk). They purposely skated against the music to show the emotional turmoil of the characters (they were portraying a couple, where the woman was cheating, the man suspects her, and in the end, he kills her). I personally think it worked for that program, but it takes people like Krylova and Ovsiannikov (considered over-the-top performers) to pull that off.
Overall I agree with Serious Business's point - complexity for complexity's sake can result in chaos and that happens in some COP programs. Here's place where GOEs might help - so a beautifully articulated and clear level 3 footwork section got +3s and ended up being worth more then an average level 4 that got 0s. Maybe it is that way. I also wonder how often judges give +3 to footwork, and is speed of execution a bullet point for a +3 GOE.
Watched all three clips, thanks gkelly, especially for the chance to see Miner's and Abbott's programs again. Overall I enjoyed the footwork for each and I like that in at a slower pace we can see each turn and step executed, which often I can't when they're going fast.
Miner's I thought did a great job establishing the character of the program and fitting with the music, Abbott's was musical, expressive as well as complex - would have would have given them both +2 probably. Kostner's, while complex, didn't really fit in the music, just sat on top of it, and I found her arms very distracting, 0 to -1 for me, but the judges disagree
Good question. I know the audience demands flashy fast footwork in that secion, but I should hope the choreographer of a skater shows how to incorporate it into a lyrical program, so the judges should recognize the timing of that music, and judge the skill on its own merits. It's not just Rachael, Alissa, Mirai and many others use lyrical music. The know-it-all Caller gives them Levels of his opinion. No?
Originally Posted by Mathman
Actually, it's worse that that. One member of the tech panel counts how many turns in the opposite direction the skater does. Another times the percentage of time that the skater is on one foot, etc. It all comes down to numbers. If the numbers add up right, you get a level three.
Originally Posted by Joesitz
Choreography, relation to the music, etc., is not taken into account in calling the level.
That why it pays skaters to do x number of turns in y direction and forget about the music altogether.
At the rink. Again.
No, it is not based on opinion, it is based on meeting the established criteria for a specific level. Each tech panel member has a responsibility to determine whether a program meets a specific (or a couple specific) bullet. It behooves the skater to make their turns clear (instead of "was that a rocker or a three turn"?) and to use their body motion effectively (must have full body movement throughout for L4). The reason why you believe it to be an opinion is because the levels sometimes change between events but that is likely due clarity of turns (if you have a couple turns that are unclear and the skater ends up not meeting the requirement for a L3 or 4 because of it, that's not uncommon) and maybe less body movement.
Originally Posted by Joesitz
But is this taken into consideration for GOE?
Originally Posted by Mathman
See Communication 1611, pp. 6 and 7 for details on what the technical panel looks for in calling levels. The Technical Panel Handbook gives additional detail.
See Communication 1611, pp. 10 and 12 for criteria for the judges' GOEs.
I don't believe a Caller has to decide on the level for ALL the bullets in the guidelines. Those he doesn't use may well be taken up by judges and the issuance of higher GoEs.
The test of one foot skating looks so labored, and it looks the same by all skaters. it could work in a bravura performance but is contrary for a lyrical performance. I'm an old fuddy duddy when it comes to performance scores.
So sad the Caller ignores choreography which is all about figure skating to music.