I'm not saying skating is better than ballet; I love both. But the nature of skating lends itself to do certain things better just as the nature of ballet lends itself to doing other things best.
Last edited by MoonlightSkater; 05-22-2011 at 11:00 PM. Reason: grammar
You are correct. That is the nature of Dance on the Floor, the Ice, the Pool, the Basketball Court. Indeed, make it Flow. I do appreciate the Flow in figure skating. In fact, I demand it. I cringe when a skater takes a long preparation to do an element.
In ballet, you must be aware of, there are no tricks. Everything must be executed without pauses because it must be timed to the music. The elements in ballet are Steps - not Tricks. Since figure skating is also a sport, tricks are important, but not necessarily tied to the beat and rhythm of the music. I do not see that flow when there is so much emphasis for the preparation of the elements. Few skaters have that ability. From the US, I would say Jason Brown, and that kid, Chen 'dance to the music'. It's refreshing.
An emphatic ditto from me! In some ways, each of these two things fills a void the other can't touch. Isn't it great that we have both?
By the way, are you familiar with Katherine Healy? As a child she was the subject of the book A Very Young Figure Skater, but she also trained in ballet. She worked as a ballerina in companies in London and Vienna and now coaches dancers, but she has also done some skating through the years. This video shows a bit of both of her skills:
Last edited by Olympia; 05-25-2011 at 02:28 PM.
I am ashamed to say that this is the first time I've ever seen Katherine Healy. But based on this vid alone, it seems to me that she has, as a skater, the most breathtaking balletic (or ballet-like) extension, lines, flexibility and positions that I've ever seen. I mean, forget all the talk of Sasha, Mirai, or whoever, there is no comparison, in my eyes (this is not to diss those skaters or anything, just saying that Katherine's formal ballet training is unmistakeable).
But as you and MoonlightSkaters and others point out, absolutely correctly, in my view, ballet and skating have very different requirements, in particular in the parameters governing movement, and the fact that skaters can choose from a broader palette of dance styles, including but not exclusive to ballet.
The difference in governing parameters struck me in one of the split-screen moments (a skating Katherine side by side with the ballerina Katherine). In the skating half, she has her leg extended, but compared to the ballet half of the image her movement seems a bit sluggish, the extension just a bit strained, and the foot wavers just a bit. The obvious explanation is that the extension is being done with a weighty boot hanging at the end of the line while making an effort to maintain her balance on the relatively frictionless ice.
These questions are equal parts ignorance and curiosity: was Katherine somewhat slow in her skating? That was my initial impression from the clip, but I'm not familiar with her entire body of work.
Also, how was she in her jumps? I thought the split jump she did was electric in its attack and authority. But what about rotational jumps? I thought I saw her doing one, but it seemed very demure and small. Am I missing something not shown on the vid (of course, I understand that she never really pursued skating at the highest competitive levels)?
Ballet and Figure Skating are not comparable!!!! Aside from the vastly difference in techniques, there is only the line of the body in skating that approximates ballet or even other dances. Once the metal plates are put on the feet, the skating becomes acrobatic. That is not the same as ballet slippers.
The figure skater, in order to get speed, requires a lot of cross rolls which approximate glisades in Ballet, and with the necessary speed executes a trick(jump). Ballet dancers do not jump - they leap from one move to the next. The entire program of a dancer is to continually dance around the procenium stage in time with the music.
The goal of the figure skater is to present tricks for judging that will lead him to a gold medal.
The goal of the ballet dancer is to please the audience. It is judged only by the critics.
Figure skating does nothing original but borrows from other sources of dance to make a musical program. Some figure skating choreographers have a knack for making the program look more artistic, but it is not ballet. And there is nothing wrong with using Flamenco, Folk, Character music in a program. It doesn't have to be ballet-like.
Healy probably came closest to making figure skating look like a ballet.
So Healy doesn't demonstrate what skaters can do now, but there are elements of her carriage and positions that are worthy of imitation. You can see why when I first saw Sasha Cohen skate, I thought of her as "Katherine Healy with jumps." There's even a physical resemblance, and Cohen has that marvelouous straight back and the open arms.
Cathy Folkes did somewonderful programs with John Curry.
and here Curry is with Peggy.
Easy to see Curry could have also been a great competitive Pairs skater.
Her she is, only 14 and already a looking like a seasoned performer.
Waiting now for Adelina to hit the Sr GP next season.
Watching Healy I thought of upcoming Russian skater Julia Lipnitskaya.
Gmyers, if there's an upcoming skater that has some of Healy's traits, I will seek her out! What a delightful possibility.
Hernando, I'm glad you posted the Curry tapes with Foulkes and with Fleming. He used his Olympic gold medal to promote skating as a serious art form, and I'm glad that some of his beautiful work has been preserved. There's also an incredible version of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun by Debussy:
I also agree with you about Sasha. The first time I saw her was at her remarkable senior debut at the age of 15 (in 1999 or 2000, I think). She was already a mature artist. Later I unearthed the YouTube video of her at fourteen, only to find that she was already mature even then.
Joe, "sugary melodies".... great phrase! I guess it was frequently true about Sasha, especially when compared to Michelle in her early prime, who skated to the audacious music found by Lori Nichol--an Azerbaijani composer ("Taj Mahal" in 1997, I believe), the modern American composer John Adams ("The Red Violin"), chamber music ("Song of the Black Swan"), and the contemporary British work "Lyra Angelica." As beautiful a skater as Sasha is, I remember several complaints that she lacked musicality. Again, I think she suffered in comparison with Michelle in that regard. But compared to the American ladies of today, she's like Plisetskaya.
Olympia - Like the entire PC scores and the Plus GoE scores, the tastes of judges and you and I differ. That's the nature of Opinions. I saw Sasha with a lot of potential, but she never developed it to make her a memorable medalist. She had her fans though. Her super spirals; her gifted line, her "I" spin amazed many a fan. None of those things phased me as I watched the world of dance performing all the extensions of good lines without the use of the hands. The Ballerina in the Black Swan Pas de deux would develop her leg from a Passee to an A La Second without the use of hands. It was all muscle and amazing. It was not a trick, just a musical movement in the dance.
Sasha could have been the definitive figure skater, but imo, she didn't work for that. She tended to just want to win without a legasy.
Taste in music is like taste in skating. I liked some of Michelle's music but am not in love with all of it. Same for Sasha.
As I go back and watch YouTube I become more convinced most skaters rarely change their style.
From '95 on Michelle never upped her tech much or changed her presentation style very much. The same is true for Sasha who had a mature style at 14.
Watching a 15 year old Plushenko it is not much different than watching a 20 year old Plushenko or 27 year old Plushenko.
Last year we heard about a "new Johnny" but what we saw was exactly the same old Johnny as in the past.
This season we heard about a new Yuna but I saw the same Yuna as in previous seasons.
Skaters do the best they can and when they fall short or fail to develope to fans expectations it is not because of lack of effort.
Sasha did the best she could and did not blow the Olympics on purpose. I think Shiz was a better skater anyway.
Michelle did not blow the Olympics twice on purpose either and did the best she could under the circumstances. Her case was different than Sasha's as Michelle was the best skater IMO at Nagano and SLC but failed to win. Doesn't mean I like her any more or any less.
Mao is an interesting one to consider. If she never wins the OGM or another WC I will always remember her for the beauty of her skating. That's how I will remember Sasha too.
Last edited by janetfan; 05-28-2011 at 01:26 PM.
One would never mistake (well, at least I wouldn't) a Klimt, a de Kooning or a Picasso as the work of anyone else. The technique and sensibility are always specifically their own. This is a somewhat separate point from a consideration of their artistic "range"; Picasso's paintings deal in everything from love to death to sex to whimsy and humor to fear and loathing (sounds like a combination of Tolstoy, Woody Allen and Hunter S. Thompson ), but the way that these fundamental and universally shared human concerns are considered, interpreted and expressed are always filtered through the sieve of his own irreducible complexities of thought, feeling and manner. (I feel obliged to emphasize something I've said before: this is not to say that an artist (whether painter or skater) is actually feeling the emotion that is being portrayed as they are portraying it, but that they are demonstrating that they understand the emotion and its application to themselves. Otherwise the fellow playing Othello, or Otello, in pairs would be strangling his partner for real ).
Similarly, great actors (Olivier, De Niro, Pacino, Brando, Streep, Dench, even Johnny Depp et al) generally share this sense of the persistence of the actor's individual characteristics, no matter what role he or she plays. It seems to me that the implicit assumption that we subconsciously make, when we see them in a new role, is not that this is a completely different person, but rather: this is how that person (the actor) would think and behave if born in the different circumstance of the role.
The only actor that I can think of right now who at times successfully provided the illusion of not only inhabiting different circumstances, but of being different people entirely, is Peter Sellers. His multiple personas in "Dr. Strangelove", and his Chance Gardiner in "Being There" were eerie examples of this tour de force technique. But the price that he paid was that the intensity and authenticity of his expression was diminished, as he deliberately cut himself off from the waypoints of his own personal character. This is why, even in the performances I cited, there is always a hint of lightness, of caricature, that is he always struggling to keep in check. We are amused, we marvel, but our emotions are never fully engaged, distracted as we are by the sense of the slow wink.
The duality of commonality (of themes) and individuation (of expression and style) is what makes art evergreen and suspenseful. It is also why, in my view, the quality of self-awareness is a critical element, in figure skating fully as much as for other arts, and why skaters who can be considered artistically great will also have such identifiable (shall I even say iconic?) styles.
IMO, Michelle and Yuna both have this quality of self-awareness and individuated authenticity in their quality of movement and their expressiveness (and I refuse to get into an argument as to who has it more ). What separates them from many other skaters, again IMHO, is the degree and self-awareness of this individuation, and their success in applying these qualities to a wide range of expressive themes. (I also refrain from critique of other skaters on these qualities, to avoid yet more verbal brawls ). So in a sense, Hernando, I both agree and disagree with you; I agree as to the persistence of a highly individuated style, while I disagree that the performances are "the same", because the theme that they are expressing is different each time.
This is, of course, not to say that they were always and completely successful in fulfilling their aesthetic intentions in every performance they ever gave, but in the sense of authentic individuation of style of movement and expressiveness, they are in my opinion among the very best.