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Thread: Regional Stereotypes?

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    Regional Stereotypes?

    So I'm working on a project for school, discussing the various stylistic stereotypes from a certain region - ie, from Europe/Russia, North America/US, and Asia. It seems like it's a question of skating style; ie, the Russians are considered to be the most artistic or balletic. What do you think the stereotypes for each region are, and do you think there's any truth to them?

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Here is a good place to start. Check out the 2002 Olympics pairs performances of Shen and Zhao (China), Berezhnaya and Sikharudlize (Russia -- see especially their short program), and Sale and Pelletier (Canada). (Better, use the 2003 World championships for Shen and Zhao.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    This book, by Ellyn Kestnbaum, Culture on Ice, Figure Skating and Cultural meaning, might interest you:

    http://www.amazon.com/Culture-Ice-Sk...9448043&sr=8-1

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    It depends on the discipline. While many Russian pairs and ice dancers have been balletic, Russian singles were not known for that at all. However, this may be changing with skaters like Adelina Sotnikova.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Actually, once you get past John Curry (British), it is hard to think of a skater who is "balletic." Maybe Oksana Baiul (Ukrainian). Or Toller Cranston, if you want a different kind of ballet.

    For an interesting comparison within a country, the artistic Belousova and Protopopov versus the athletic Rodnina and Zeitsev is a fascinating contrast.

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    Trixie Schuba's biggest fan! blue dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Actually, once you get past John Curry (British), it is hard to think of a skater who is "balletic." Maybe Oksana Baiul (Ukrainian). Or Toller Cranston, if you want a different kind of ballet.

    For an interesting comparison within a country, the artistic Belousova and Protopopov versus the athletic Rodnina and Zeitsev is a fascinating contrast.
    I think the "winners" have a lot to do with changing the style of a whole region. Take, for example, Dubreuil and Lauzon. For years before them, the style of Canadian, and even North American dance was athletic (Bourne/Kraatz). The athletic dancers were excellent, but the emphasis was more on athleticism, rather than the storytelling. Then, Dubreuil and Lauzon began winning, and the style shifted towards the understated storytelling. The athleticism is still there, but it's less overt.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    I would have said that the style of Dubreuil & Lauzon was Romance Novel on Ice.

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    Of course any 'national style' has many, many exceptions to the rule. Here's my quick, shooting from the hip, take

    Russian - high style, decorative, technically accomplished - like a Faberge egg or the Winter Palace - Plushy, Maria B, Irina

    French - similar to Russian but slightly simplified, funkier. Baroque instead of Roccoco - Marina & Gwendal, Amodio, Candeloro

    US - cool, classy, elegant - Michelle, Nancy, Evan, Todd

    I have a harder time with a Japanese skating identity - maybe elegant, intricate, intellectual? It seems to me that Takahashi, Kozuka & Oda are stylistically very different. I wonder if it has to do with a western sport/art being over layed over an eastern culture producing even more variation

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    Trixie Schuba's biggest fan! blue dog's Avatar
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    Ivy, I think Asian skaters are a. still trying to find an identity that is distinctly Asian that will be "accepted by the ISU" (Many people believed Chen Lu assimilated into the Western style to win) or b. are very very versatile that they can do any style. I'm more inclined to say B, but then again, I think that is true of any skater. As fans, many of us just get used to them doing one style, that when they attempt another, we may think it's not as good as what they used to do (Kwan, when she attempted the blues).

    If we want to see regional stereotypes, we may want to look at packaging. Russians tend to have more dramatic costumes and arm movements, whereas North Americans tend to stick to more subdued costuming. With Asian skaters, it seems to depend on their choreographer (those of the Nichol school have more subdued costuming and packaging, whereas those of the Tarasova/Morozov/Zhulin school seem more Russian).

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    Of course, I don't see why a solo skater has to be balletic. There are so many forms of Dance. Why should it be the chosen one for figure skating. I think there is a musical style that skaters can manage. Michelle Kwan was/is a beautiful skater that was not at all like a ballerina. Her body flowed with the music as did her arms and were not restricted to classical ballet positions. She was a first rate figure skater. So are a few male skaters, which your term paper might include.

    To be honest, I believe the topic should also include Acrobatics and Contortionism which predominates figure skating of today. Both these forms of "dance" get lots of wows in competitive skating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue dog View Post
    If we want to see regional stereotypes, we may want to look at packaging. Russians tend to have more dramatic costumes and arm movements, whereas North Americans tend to stick to more subdued costuming. With Asian skaters, it seems to depend on their choreographer (those of the Nichol school have more subdued costuming and packaging, whereas those of the Tarasova/Morozov/Zhulin school seem more Russian).
    True. In general, I think Asian skaters are a little more reserved in terms of performance. They express through their body movements or gestures instead of their faces. Although there are certainly exceptions such as Daisuke and Akiko who are both quite facially expressive.

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    For this topic one can even write a book. I mean, it is really interesting about the various styles and influences on FS. After all it is an art. One can analyze many factors (cultural for exemple) that lead to a style. Or the elements (costumes, performance, choreography, music choices etc.) that characterise a style.

    There are regional patterns which are somehow visible even for the more inexperienced eye (Russian style, French, American). But there are many exceptions and nuances. Every skater/team could be analyzed from program to program.
    There are temporal patterns (a similiar topic I've opened some years ago about the different music choices in the various decades, which in a way sometimes reflected the fashion of the time and sometimes not).
    And obviously there are also coach and choreographer patterns.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    One thing that influences the style of the skaters is the group of pieces they choose their music from. Very few American or Canadian skaters are the first to pick a particular Russian movie theme (despite so many of US coaches being Russian), whereas Russian skaters pick them more frequently. However, after a Russian skater or team has introduced a particularly skatable piece of Russian music, a Western team will often pick it up.

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    Trixie Schuba's biggest fan! blue dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    One thing that influences the style of the skaters is the group of pieces they choose their music from. Very few American or Canadian skaters are the first to pick a particular Russian movie theme (despite so many of US coaches being Russian), whereas Russian skaters pick them more frequently. However, after a Russian skater or team has introduced a particularly skatable piece of Russian music, a Western team will often pick it up.
    This is true, Doris, but it might have to do with the accessibility of the piece. I've tried to get Maria B's Seventeen Moments In Spring to use for my silver test, because it's slooowww. I can't get it.

    You're right; when Russian skaters debut a Russian film and are successful with it, it becomes a piece that western skaters want to skate to, like My Sweet and Tender Beast.

    The reverse is also true, but NA soundtracks are more available, than Russian ones, or in my case, even German ones (I paid 30 bucks to get Katarina Witt's Where Have All The Flowers Gone!).

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue dog View Post
    You're right; when Russian skaters debut a Russian film and are successful with it, it becomes a piece that western skaters want to skate to, like My Sweet and Tender Beast.
    So who popularized that one? The first time I heard the music (as far as I know) was Chait and Sakhnovsky's free dance in 1997. But it wasn't brand new music at the time, so possibly some other mid-ranked teams or singles skaters had used it before then and I just hadn't seen/heard enough programs at that level.

    Then in 1998-99 Silverstein and Pekarek were using it for their original dance, probably supplied by their Russian coach.

    And later that season Anissina and Peizerat changed their OD music to use that piece, which is probably what got the attention of the rest of the skating world.

    Some of the skaters named above were originally from Russia, but none of them was competing for Russia at the time.

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