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Thread: Skating as art

  1. #76
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    yes that is blue dog in his avatar... not that I'm his stalker or anything

  2. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    yes that is blue dog in his avatar... not that I'm his stalker or anything
    Yes, Mathman, Toni is right--I'm that self-centered LOL. Toni has seen every incarnation of that photo on facebook (or, what I call- my fingerpaint to Michelle Kwan's masterpiece)

    But back to the original topic-- I think we figure skating fans are lucky, at least, luckier than fans of other sports. We get both art and sport (ok, I lied--rhythmic gym, dressage, and synchronized swim fans get both also). And sometimes, we get a little bit of soap opera as well. Being a skating fan is like living in a very metropolitan city, where you can spend the afternoon at the ballet, then a baseball game in the evening.

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    I understand those of us who are more inclined to think of skating as a sport. I see that element also. But it's important to keep in mind that those of us who think of it as a sport would be laughed out of a room of football fans if we tried to equate it with football. So we have the same problem in either direction, the sport one or the art one.

    Then I started thinking about griffins. A griffin (sometimes spelled gryphon) is a mythical beast that is part eagle and part lion. Now, one might argue that it is a lion, or that it doesn't have enough lion in it to be called a lion. One might argue that it is an eagle, or that it doesn't have enough eagle in it to be called an eagle. That's missing the point. It's a griffin! It's a blend so noble and astonishing that it makes one's heart leap just to see a picture, or even just to see the word on paper. It can be found only in the furthest reaches of Narnia, or on gold carved by ancient Scythians. Why even argue about lions or eagles? Look at that magnificent griffin, and be awed.

    That's kind of what skating is to me. Is it art? Is it sport? It is itself, and when I watch the best of it (which isn't to be found in every competition by any means), it gives me the feeling of having come upon some treasure that few others have encountered. It takes nothing away from the likes of a Balanchine ballet or a Zeffirelli staging of Puccini to say that. Whatever Michelle Kwan or Klimova/Ponomarenko have, they have it in full measure, and I'm grateful that it's here for me to enjoy.

    Edit: Mind you, I'm not saying we shouldn't argue about it. Many of the ideas people are coming up with are really mind-stretching, and I'm enjoying this thread hugely!
    I think this is a tremendous image, Olympia. Although it's true that the griffin is an imaginary creature (not only fabulous, but also fabulous ), I must admit that a scientifically peer-reviewed example, like maybe a bacterium in which mouse genes have been inserted (technically known as a chimera, which is, funnily enough, yet another fabulous beast ) wouldn't have quite the same evocative force. So, griffin it is, I say!

  4. #79
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue dog View Post
    Being a skating fan is like living in a very metropolitan city, where you can spend the afternoon at the ballet, then a baseball game in the evening.
    I think I might steal that and put it on my blog's quote page. (seriously, so not a stalker)

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue dog View Post
    )

    . And sometimes, we get a little bit of soap opera as well. Being a skating fan is like living in a very metropolitan city, where you can spend the afternoon at the ballet, then a baseball game in the evening.
    Sometimes I think we get a whole lot of "soap opera"

    But are those who don't live in a metropolitan area precluded from being a skating fan

    I think not, even if I mostly agree with the spirit of your post.

    I live in a metropolitan city and to the contrary we are too expensive for most skating events.
    SOI, SA and other skating events can put on shows 90 miles from where I live but they can't afford it here.
    Last edited by janetfan; 03-31-2011 at 12:29 PM.

  6. #81
    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    I see no qualms with comparing artists across genres, I'll stick to actors/performers and skaters for the purpose of this debate. Compare Michelle Kwan to Meryl Streep. In terms of numbers, both have had an unusually long streak of domination: world medals/oscar nominations etc. Meryl Streep is perhaps the most acclaimed actress ever, with classical training and a broad range of roles (and breathtaking beauty and box office numbers nowadays). Does Lyra Angelica, The Red Violin, East of Eden, Scherezade (pick four of your own) match up against Sophie's Choice, A Cry in the Dark, Adapation and Angels in America (ditto)? To me, artistically, it categorically doesn't. Does it for you? If so, how?
    You addressed this to me and I would love to take up your challenge, but it would take more time than I have right now. It occurs to me, though, that skating as an art has never had an Arlene Croce - the New Yorker's remarkable dance critic who was able to see and describe Balanchine, Fred and Ginger, and many more in greater depth than anyone had ever done before. She was a literary and fearfully intelligent writer and the New Yorker gave her as much space as she wanted to develop her ideas, so that her work was far above that of the average newspaper dance critic. She could speak expertly and profoundly about technique, the essence of the specific art form, the dancers' individual styles, choreography, music, and social contexts. Skating commentators, who come mainly from the world of sports, tend to be far less global in their expertise, and thus so far they haven't much helped us grasp the full scope of the genre. The community of fans is actually doing that job in a fragmented way.

    Also, I'd like to note a special dimension of skating vs. film (since you've focused on Streep's movies) -- it takes place in one moment of time (like dance and other performing arts) but a much more condensed one -- just a few minutes. Length-wise it's more like a haiku than a feature film. You can certainly compare apples and oranges, but it has to be done with care. Also (unlike the performing arts except for shows like DWTS) figure skating exists in the high-stakes environment of competition. (Like you, I'm almost exclusively interested in competitive skating.) I think this high-stakes, on-the-edge quality is part of the unique essence of figure skating that the genre's future Arlene Croce will develop.

    More when I get my kitchen and bath remodel under control!

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spun Silver View Post
    More when I get my kitchen and bath remodel under control!
    See you in six months.

  8. #83
    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    See you in six months.
    Expletive deleted! I fell for the "just two months" line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spun Silver View Post
    You addressed this to me and I would love to take up your challenge, but it would take more time than I have right now. It occurs to me, though, that skating as an art has never had an Arlene Croce - the New Yorker's remarkable dance critic who was able to see and describe Balanchine, Fred and Ginger, and many more in greater depth than anyone had ever done before. She was a literary and fearfully intelligent writer and the New Yorker gave her as much space as she wanted to develop her ideas, so that her work was far above that of the average newspaper dance critic. She could speak expertly and profoundly about technique, the essence of the specific art form, the dancers' individual styles, choreography, music, and social contexts. Skating commentators, who come mainly from the world of sports, tend to be far less global in their expertise, and thus so far they haven't much helped us grasp the full scope of the genre.
    I think Dick Button aspired to that role.
    My impression is that he was at least somewhat knowledgeable about performing arts and wanted to encourage viewers to appreciate skating as art.

    But since he had limited air time available to express his ideas and needed to address them to casual viewers and not just aficionados, he wasn't able to go into depth on the air, even if he would have been able to write detailed analyses of the aesthetics of skating had he chosen to do so.

    And I also think that focusing on aesthetic commentary in a competitive context at the expense of explaining fine points of technique and rules did a disservice to the sport as sport.

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    (Firstly, please let me apologies for this lonnnnng post. I don't post often, but when I do, I'd like to contribute as much as I can :P)

    A lecturer at the Royal College of Art, world's leading school in art and design once said something that stayed with me:

    "The worst idea we ever had was to give children a paintbrush and a picture in front of them to say, paint like that."

    I was first taken aback because that is the way all children and adults around the world are taught, and continues to learn, to draw like the masters. I asked him why. He said, it is because they should be free to express in any way they want, whether to draw with their fingers and decide what they like to do with it, draw, mark, dab, print, splash, drip or paint, and there are unlimited potentials. By putting a cap on them at the start, you are making them into craftsman and not artists. You also failed to give the opportunity to develop their own unique sense of relationship which is expressing their unique view and visions of the world. It spells the death of creativity, therefore art.

    I can't help but feel much of he says can also be applied to some of the perspective shared generally including outside the forums. Although all are valid, but many of the views are conditioned by what has been 'institutionalised' as 'successful' programs/performances, by the COP of its time through in the form of scores/wins; the 'big tricks', 'social environment' and the 'cultural impact' for the skaters within certain national biases. By boxed in what is art, and the rules of 'good' art, one perhaps fails to realised perhaps we became prejudiced by such conditions therefore we are not really opens to the idea of profound possibilities.

    Truth, Art, Beauty. On the face of it they can all be about similar things, but they are really quite different. In performance art as it is in life, art and beauty dies the moment it really happens (even though captured on film, these are merely reproductions but not 'real art'), and the only thing that last out of the 3 is 'Truth', which is who the skater is, and what he/she has achieved.

    Figure skating is both an art and sport.

    As a performance art, art is possible by the condition it must be genuine, unique, truthful, delivered on the occasion, in the contextual circumstance in the grand scheme of things. Real art in performance is the part that the performer were able to bring the heights and the depth of expression that can never replicated gain. It is what all skaters strive for but rarely achieve but all capable of achieving. But it is the occasion, the stage that set the significance of the performance apart. Real art is the peak state of liberation, freedom and abandonment of earthly conventions or rules and regulations. A spatial state of mind, but also one that is simple, spontaneous and pure.

    Figure skaters are all artists and capable of creating art, but rarely do they achieve real art when it matters the most. All their potentials, what they have done during rehearsal are just craft. Through good choice of music, gorgeous costumes, brilliant make up, expertly choreograph programs and skilled skates, may all maximise chance of art happening, but it does not mean it will happen. It those rarest inspired moments, occasion, highs of simplicity and purity, spontaneity, luck and even perfection that makes us yearning for this sport.

    Figure skating as a sport
    Sport for me is like a supreme craft, pushing the human boundaries to its maximum and once it surpassed its peak, by its own uniqueness and wonderment, it became art. All sportman/craftsman are capable of delivery great art through inspired moments of expertise, but in sport and is in Art, what happens during rehearsals and practice doesn't matter. Only what happens when it count is the most important to appraise sport as art.

    ---------------------

    My own personal interpretation of the different levels of aptitudes in developing relationship with the arts in learning them, appreciate them and in performing them. (Arts = alls humanity subjects Music/Performances/Dance/Painting/Fine Arts/Literary).

    1. You learn the techniques.
    2. You improve the techniques.
    3. You perfect the techniques.
    4. You develop your own techniques.
    5. You forget about the techniques.
    6. Let the techniques be part of you and it is seamlessly integrated in everything you do.
    7. You can't see the techniques.

    1. You see/ hear / interact with the arts/work at first hand with no preconceived notion and always with an open mind and a 'fresh pair of eyes' as well as all your senses.

    2. Be very self aware of how it make you feel on a pure instinctual level, even based on a limited understanding.

    3. Research and learn about the background, crafts, historical and cultural context, environment, personal journey of the artists and the works's creation, intention, and by product.

    4. Appreciate the original 'creator/artist's vision in crafts, his/her 'persuasion' (Objectivity), and even 'lack of persuasion' speaks volumes about the work and the artists intentions.

    5. Develop your own opinion and response to agree or disagree with his 'persuasion (Subjectivity).

    6. One should try to perform the work acknowledge the above but the depth of knowledge might not be necessary, the intention is not to offend or mishandle the material. It is about being respectful and truthful to the work, but there's a fine line with how much you let yourself dictated by it as a performer and an artist.

    7. Awareness of the audience. This is subjective to the artist's own generosity. Some artists perform / create for their own pleasure or spite. In performance arts, it is for the audience.

    Even if the most well executed technically sound program are performed to its perfection, in an empty arena without an audience or record of it, it is not art, it is just work.

    8. The performance itself should be a large extension of the artist within, in spirit, emotional response, and most importantly, in original thoughts as expressed within the realm of the performer's human constricts. A true artist should always bring their own 'uniqueness' to any preconceived objectivity.

    9. In performance art, the success of the work should be measured by how much audience respond to it, even long after a performance has ended, and the career of the artist finishes. After all, that's the reason Arts fall under the category of 'Humanity' subjects.

    Most skater at elite level is proficient in the Point 1 to 4 of the learning curves, some on occasion reaches level 5 and 6 and even 7. Art happens at 7-9. Although in rare burst of inspired moments, all skaters are capable of transcend to 8 and 9 on rarest occasions, sometimes by accident, some by personal affinity, and sometimes if you are among the rare gifted, they have the unique instinctual empathy to by passing other steps before start the process again with another new program. Some skaters were born with 8, and they can be spotted even at Juniors.
    Last edited by os168; 03-31-2011 at 06:08 PM.

  11. #86
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    GREAT TOPIC! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to read the entire thread, but here's my take on Skating as Art...


    Are beauty and artistry synonymous when it comes to skating, or can you have one without the other?
    I believe they should be, but sometimes you will have a skater who does a great job with the intreperation of the music, but the athletic ability isn't there which takes away from the beauty of the performance. This is probably the worst case scenario, espcially with the ladies, but skating is a sport and not a beauty contest. But when you have that skater who combines beauty & artistry - YOWZA!

    Can skating with no music be art? Does the presence of music demand evaluation as art even if the skater does a bad job of reflecting the music or uses it only for counting?
    Absolutely! I've seen several skaters on practice ice with iPods who gave me chills and I have no idea what they were skating to - the movement was just that powerful. In terms of actual competition, I believe the music should be used as a tool to highlight the performance and not something that's just playing in the background. This actually drives me crazy and is a reason why I do such a bad job at keeping up with the Novice & Junior skater. They are so focused on landing the jumps, that the music is secondary. Its rare to find those standouts who are able to connect the two... Jennifer Kirk excelled at this when she was a youngster.

    Is show skating all about art and not a sport at all? Do cheesy shows count as art or only hoity-toity ones?
    I think that rarely show skating is about more than making money. Its rare to see modern skating shows push the artistic envelope - espcially those with a theme - ala Boyz II Men, Hip Hop, Riverdance, etc. however...

    What about professional competitions, or the "interpretive" programs in pro-am or "open" competitions of the late 1990s?
    some of the best, most artistic performances I've ever seen were during the late 1990s with the professional competitions... esp. the pairs. Lots of those were simply breathtaking and the skaters focused on winning performances vs. skating from side to side clapping their hands and doing backflips...

    What about interpretive, artistic, showcase, and Theatre on Ice competitions at amateur levels? (Club competitions, National Showcase in the US, etc.)

    Senior-level competitive short and free programs (and short/original and free ice dances): Always art? Never art? Sometimes? What would be the definitive criteria?
    For me, artistic senior level programs should always be art - unfortunately, they are not. I believe this to be espcially true in the early days of CoP where the skaters have specific things to complete in order to be successful. The newbies seem to be making the adjustment and I assume that within a year or two, this won't be the case. But as a fan - those rare programs that perfectly combine the artistic qualities that give me goose bumps with the technical and athletic ability that makes this sport is truly awesome to behold...

  12. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    A little bit off topic, but do ice dancers use a heel lead when they are doing U.S. country and western?
    Not much. Not sure how that would work with gliding across the ice techniques.

    Yankee Polka (international-level compulsory)

    Hickory Hoedown (US bronze compulsory, skated by higher level demonstrators)

    C&W-style Folk ODs use some heel steps for flavor.

  13. #88
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    Here are a couple of programs I remember watching with mixed company and the non-skating fans took note and seemed to like be taken in by them.

    They are totally different, and the first has a feeling of what many might think of as edgy performance art. The wacky scores give an idea of how innovative and controversial this was in it's day.
    I still love it!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQKawuklMDc

    The second is passionate enough that even a few of the "NFL guys" who typically mocked skating got drawn in. I think it has a universal and timeless beauty that woud be recognized in many cultures as art.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpKHpIC6Yn0
    Last edited by janetfan; 04-01-2011 at 07:45 AM.

  14. #89
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    ^ Hernando, your first link above is incomplete. Can you fix it?

  15. #90
    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Thanks and it should work now.
    I chose a Dance and Pair team even though I am a bigger fan of singles skating. It seems to me choreographically speaking there have been many wonderful programs over the years from the teams, both competitive and in show skating.

    The D/M program I linked was not skated cleanly but it doesn't matter. The program itself feels like a work of art to me and credit must go to Moskvina as well.

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