10-12-2011, 08:04 PM
Wicked Yankee Girl
This is true of the Shibutanis-but not every team is suddenly equipped to be a world medallist in their first or second season, even if a team ahead of them stumbles (V&M benefitting from B&A's stumble, and Shibutanis benefitting from P&B).
10-13-2011, 12:31 AM
Thanks for responding Pogue. Sorry I took so long to respond, haven't been feeling well.
Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue
Here are a few quick replies to some of your shorter points.
1. Check out B/K's 2000-2001 FD when they moved to Tarasova. (note TRacy's comment about the mood with which it was skated that season than in this competition.) They tried virtually everything to break through over the course of their career.
2. I understand your concerns about one school being dominant, but in sports it's up the to competitors to find a way to break through. In tennis, Nadal did it with Federer and this year Djokovic did it with both of them after years in the shadows. It can be done, but it should not happen just for the sake of providing balance. It should happen because it's deserved. That's what would be best for the sport.
3. Regarding this program appearing juvenile to some, perhaps it's because this style of dancing is currently taught in dance classes for younger people. It is very physically demanding on the floor after all. But at it's inception, this was the social dance style of young men and women looking to party in bars and clubs across America and Europe during pretty depressing times (WWII). It was meant to inject fun into life when life seemed pretty darn bleak. That's not juvenile at all in my opinion.
To continue my K/P analogy, remember that they too were a team that had very immediate success. They virtually came out of nowhere on the international level. Sergei had been very successful as a junior with his previous partner (winning junior worlds), but Marina was a good deal younger than him at the time they teamed up (13 to his 19 I believe). They debuted internationally a few years later when she was 15-16 at the Ennia Cup and Moscow News as far as I can tell and performed well winning medals. Western audiences next saw them place 4th at 1983 Euros then disappear again. They reemerged a year later to win bronze at Euros and Olympics. That's pretty immediate success at their 4th and 5th international events (as far as I can gather). In terms of the number of events, that's pretty much on par with the Shibs. Also, as I've said, they were the conventional establishment team in terms of their approach to choreography for most of their career. It failed to enthuse some back then just as the Shibs are encountering now. But their quality was undeniable and it did not hold them back except at 84 Worlds where as you pointed out, B/S did have a glaring error but were placed ahead.
I know there is a desire out there for every team to be endlessly innovative with earth shattering choreography that moves people to tears, but that's just not realistic. Those programs are actually pretty rare. Also cries about recyling of themes are a bit silly because themes are always recycled. There is very little originality in any choreography being done in skating or dancing. It's all a new twist on old themes. For example, P/B's current FD breaks no real new ground ( neither did V/M or D/W's Olympic FDs). It's in a mold of many ethnic/cultural themes already done before. That does not mean it lacks merit. It just should not get more attention simply because it's not a conventional western theme. There are categories from which to choose when picking a program just as there are genres of books to read. All have their merits and shortcomings. The quality of the skating and execution of the choreographic goals should be the determining factor when you have that much variety from my perspective. As Mrs P and others have stated, the fact that they are taking their time to build a really solid foundation now will serve the well in the future because COP will reward their strong base and the fact that they accomplish the choreographic goal of the program. COP is less concerned with the relative creative merits of the programs, but focuses more on how well that choreography is executed.
As far as expectations go, Mrs. P and I have both stated that there were other expectations beyond stylistic ones which they had on their plate. They have chosen to address the technical ones this season improving their lifts, connecting steps, energy, sharpness, timing etc rather than focusing on expanding their choreographic style. They can't effectively do both in one season. It's a good decision and here's why. They do "smooth and lyrical" really well. Even their program last year was not really much in the mold of what their current program is, at least in terms of sharpness and quickness. It had music from a similar time frame, but that's about it compared to this program. It was smooth and silky, but not all that quick footed. The way this program is being danced, it clear that the aim is to improve their partner dancing skills and ability to handle intricacies with steps and music, just as D/W did last season. In fact, like last year's tango, I expect this routine to constantly be tweaked all season long and not to really wow most fans. That's not its purpose. It's intended to make them better dancers IMO. Choreographically, during the last Olympic cycle when team Canton emerged, there was a clear trend away from FDs that were choreographed around partner, social, ballroom and Latin dance themes toward ones with a narrative. B/A had a lot of success working in that mold in the previous cycle, but when they attempted to continue it with That's Entertainment, they were soundly rejected. The entire landscape had changed and they had not realized it. (I guarantee Marina and Igor are determined not to repeat that mistake again.) Their programs for the rest of the cylcle were all movie scores, operas, and symphonic pieces choreographed around very adult themes as was the general trend among elite teams with few exceptions. The rules and the continued podium finishes of teams with narrative routines amplified this trend. There were whole years' worth of discussions and arguments on this thread about the lack of dance in ice dance from 2006-2010. Many people complained that D/W's programs were very powerful, fast and energetic, but not dancy enough for their tastes. As Doris and others pointed out, the rules were not written at the time to emphasize more ballroom dance qualities like matching leg line, posture, hold etc. Now of course those rules have been tightened and revised and actually call or more upbeat themes. They tend to favor programs with far more structure both technically and creatively with more "real dancing". That may seem to be stifling to some, but it does not bother me because this tug of war in ice dance has been going on since I was in diapers decades ago. It's nothing new. The pendulum will swing back in the other direction eventually. Ice dance would be boring if it were always favored toward on style or artisitic direction. Somtimes a return to basics is needed before the next great creative leap can take place. From that standpoint, you can't really blame Maia and Alex for their approach.
Regarding your point about D/W and V/M vs the Shibs, I'll say this. It's almost always better in any sport to start off with a solid technical base and then make other improvements (flash and dash) later. It's like the difference between basketball players who learn playing pick-up games first vs players who play on a formally coached team. Trick shots are great, but having a solid layup, jump shot and good passing that are well practiced puts points on the board consistently. Therefore, good fundametals will usually win out over flashiness despite being less fun to watch. Under the expectations of COP's during the last cycle, D/W and V/M both had the requisite techincal base in place from the start. They just perfectly fit the system of the day. What they really needed was the chance to stretch choregraphically, as you've said and they did. If that standard were still in place, I'd say the Shibs would also be in really standing to start stretching out their themes. But it changed and they and we are still adjusting to it. The new rules in place insist on stricter calling by the panel and emphasis on music choices. It's clear that the old standards are no longer adequate. Like them or not, Marina and Igor have recognized this early on and are choreographing their teams to take advantage of the current rules and to win. It's the hand they've been dealt and they are going with it. They recognize that if the techincal base is strong the rest can be updated later. On that point, I'd argue that P/B are the exact opposite of the Shibs. They were extremely creative from the beginning, but really needed to improve technically. They've worked admirably to get there including going fairly conventional last year, but still are prone to mishaps.
Given my argument that the technical base has changed, I like to cite D/W. Despite being considered technical wizards heading into last year, their entire season and programs were largely a technical exercise (one which V/M's injury largely gave them the freedom to explore) in becoming better dancers rather than skaters. It was a good choice both for them as a team and because the rules demand it. It's one of the reasons why pre-COP teams stuggled under the new system, failure to adapt to the rules. They were suddenly faced with technical demands which were extremely difficult to adjust to. Eventually they were left behind. B/A are another example. They spent the last 4 years of their career focused so much on trying to improve the presentation in their programs, but what steadily declined was their technical content relative to their competitors. By the time they realized they needed to improve their base, it was too late and instead of fighting for 1st they were struggling to get on the podium. (although in my mind they should have been 3rd in Vancouver) By contrast, even in 07 V/M and D/W were nearly even with all the teams ahead of them from a technical COP perspective. They worked their presentation tirelessly preceisely because they had already met the necessary technical standard and by Vancouver all their ducks were in a row and no one else was close.
In the end, I don't think what the Shibs are facing now is not completely analogous to their training mates. They all have different traits, strengths and weaknesses. What's remarkable about their situation is that their coaches have managed to address so muc of each teams' needs so well. (On a side note, K/P, U/Z and G/P all shared Dubova as a coach for several years and went 1-2-4 at Worlds in 1991 while with her, yet anyone answering honestly would admit they are all very different from each other.)
Finally, regarding the Shibs' critics I can't really make sense of their point of view because it appears to change with the circumstances or the wind. First, much of the criticism seems to assume that they have a "problem" which implies that their choice of programs is somehow limiting their results. That is based on trends from the last cycle and of course is entirely untrue at least over the last season and the start of this one. Perhaps it's residual and refers to some of their struggles from their final season as juniors. There were of course extenuating circumstances that year (chiefly a growth spurt) which are no longer an issue. Others argue that their success is too rapid because COP rewards techincal proficiency at the expense of artistic range. Does anyone remember the ice dance from 95 to 04? Lots of wonderfully emotive programs and some really terrible ones, but not the greatest technical exercises. Part of its problem then was there were a ton of teams that were so uneven in terms of skill that it almost became laughable. Many men on the top teams were relatively weak compared to their partners. (I'm looking at you Fusar-Poli and Margaglio) They relied on a lot of two foot skating and served mainly as a prop to escort the lady around the ice. There was a real lack of intricate steps among many teams and not much skating in hold. Themes became more and more abstract. It was very often not a pretty picture. Is that what people want? Lastly some seem to think that the big band theme from this season is a boring one. That's a matter of taste to which they are entitled. But it's similarly inconsistent to assume that the "innovative" themes they prefer are 1) new and 2) necessarily preferable for all skating fans. When you've seen as many Boleros, Romeo and Juliets, Carmina Buranas, experimental social commentaries and New Age Yanni knockoffs as I have, a little straightforward Glenn Miller or Fred Astaire is a welcome palate cleanser. You don't have to know any backstory or come up with on in your head to make sense of whatever avant garde program you're watching with a straightforward dance number. It's just meant to be fun. Regardless, it seems that many people are falling back on old arguments to justify continued opposition to their success. It's a little tiring especially given that the season has barely begun and most of what we've seen has been pretty disappointing.
Last edited by jcoates; 10-13-2011 at 12:17 PM.
10-13-2011, 02:32 AM
Off the ice
Originally Posted by NorthernDancers
I agree with everything you wrote - I touched upon this in my post yesterday, but you've done a much more thorough job of articulating the problems with the system as pertains to ice dance. I particularly agree with the sections I've left quoted (also that the criticism of Tessa's supposed weight gain being absurd). Say what you will for 6.0, it did leave judges room to evaluate range and maturity and other things that don't seem to apply much anymore. The PCS are not an equal measure: they are more detailed, which is good, but also include many technical rather than artistic considerations. This is a problem across all disciplines, IMO, but dance seems to have been particularly affected. I think doing away with CDs is also responsible for some of the issues we're seeing in dance.
Originally Posted by NorthernDancers
Young teams do benefit from the rules and scoring in place today, and ice dance has gotten awfully young these last few years; I suspect it's now a younger discipline on average than pairs and men. The lack of maturity in some of the teams is noticeable, and often once you look past the tech and the skating skills, there's not much there. There are teams that would certainly have benefited from additional time in juniors or a lower-pressure introduction to the senior level. DelSchoes, to use one of your examples, were junior world silver medalists, and it still took them years to break through at the senior level, and they had time to improve their skating and develop their own identity.
If I look at the Olympics, V/M had a very pretty program and skated it very well; D/W had a difficult program and skated it very fast. Both teams did lifts that were there as highlight moves and IMO had nothing to do with the programs (The Goose was more appropriate in the Pink Floyd FD; the Phantom is just unattractive, even if it is difficult). Both teams scored well, as they should have under this judging system. Meanwhile, you had F/S, who had a gorgeous program that flowed, had a concept, and with elements that were really well-incorporated but not at the same wow level. I imagine they were somewhat slower, and they never really had a shot at getting near the podium. Just as the older teams may not be up to doing some of the more difficult elements, a younger team couldn't have skated The Immigrants to the same effect. But the technical aspects of a program are more easily measurable, while other things are not. I don't know how to resolve this.
But even V/M and D/W, who started out very strong, didn't achieve some of the results now expected of young teams. Sixth and seventh at 2007 Worlds was and still is really great, but the same is now perceived as a disappointment for I/K. D/W didn't immediately medal on the GP circuit. And both those teams had already been together for nearly a decade by the time they made their senior debut. So while their success has contributed to some of the pressure on younger teams now, I agree that neither team should be used as a model of what should be expected - and certainly expecting young ice dancers to succeed even beyond what V/M and D/W did when they debuted as seniors is absurd.
Originally Posted by dorispulaski
W/P are very good role models; the younger teams at DSC are fortunate to be able to train alongside them and P/B.
10-13-2011, 10:32 AM
When D&W and V&M debuted at the senior level, they faced a number of teams who had been skating senior for many years, some of whom had been together for nearly as long as Tessa Virtue had been on this earth. Their placement at 6th and 7th was astonishing under the circumstances. The young teams who debuted at seniors last year faced only a handful of teams who had been senior for more than 5 years, and two of them finished 1, 2.
Originally Posted by Buttercup
10-13-2011, 11:40 AM
I agree with jcoates on this. I just don't understand why people are so critical of the Shibs and their bronze medal. Everyone admits they're an incredibly talented team, yet at the same time seems to feel they medaled too soon and should have "waited their turn" as teams used to in the old days. Also that they're too young and not developed enough artistically. All I can say is, this is a sport first and foremost; in the COP era, it's finally being scored like one. The Shibutanis are some of the best technical ice dancers in the world. That counts--and SHOULD count--for a lot. In my book, it counts for more than vague (and far from unanimous) opinions about P/B being more "mature" or W/P being more "innovative" or whatever. Maia & Alex skated fantastic last year and absolutely deserved the bronze as far as I'm concerned. I personally found their victory tremendously exciting. Who the heck wants to go back to the old 6.0 days when dance teams seemed to win more on attitude, politics, and theatrics than any actual skill? I agree with jcoates that the 1995-2004 period was sort of the nadir of ice dance--when I think of the overwrought, often technically empty programs of that period, from so many teams that were really never better than mediocre yet somehow rose to the top of the heap (Fusar-Poli/Margaglio, Lobacheva/Averbukh, Chait/Sakhnovsky, Grushina/Goncharov), I just shake my head. Whatever its faults, COP is a far better system and, if it encourages and rewards teams like the Shibutanis, I'm all for it.
Originally Posted by jcoates
I'll be seeing the Shibutanis live this weekend at the Evening with Champions show in Harvard and am very excited about it . . . Hopefully, I'll get to see one of their new competition programs that everyone's talking about.
10-13-2011, 01:57 PM
I have no problem with the Shibutani's winning a medal last year. It wasn't the strongest field ever and they skated well while others did not.
P&B are and have always been one of the technically weaker teams. Many European fans are enamoured of their interesting programs and their mature presentation and willing to overlook their technical deficiencies. When Crone & Poirier unexpected won the silver medal at Skate Canada in their senior international debut, we heard similar comments about C&P from P&B's most ardent fans, and of course, that C&P were over-scored at home. This past season, the fans of European ice-dance were upset at the North American sweep of the podium, but as long as P&B are the best European team they're going to have trouble against the Sphilband/Zueva teams who are technically stronger and very well-trained.
I think the biggest issue that the Shibutani's face is being brother and sister, there are just so many themes and programs which are completely inappropriate for them which limits their choices. As we saw with the Hubbells, anything which hints at romance between siblings simply squicks out the audience, and I suspect, the judges. The other issue they have, which is also a problem for Paul and Islam, is that they skate very much like Virtue & Moir. In the case of P&I, they're packaged to look like Tessa and Scott, which I don't think is helpful for young skaters seeking to make a name for themselves.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but when the team you strive to be like is competing on the same ice, unless you're better than them (fat chance), you simply remind everyone how much better the original is.
(Same comment holds true substituting Leonova for the Shibs and Irina Slutskaya for V&M.)
10-13-2011, 02:17 PM
Wicked Yankee Girl
I hope you will tell us about the show!!!
10-13-2011, 02:17 PM
Off the ice
1. P/B are not as weak technically as you suggest, they are not poorly trained, and have improved on the technical side throughout their career. And they bring things to the ice that Shpilband and Zoueva teams don't, not just from an artistic standpoint. As for that time when they were beaten by C/P - they skated badly at 2008 SC, and I don't recall too many people who thought they wuzrobbed. They got better as that season progressed and their results reflected that.The only reason they were not on the Worlds podium last season was a freak fall; that does not mean they are suddenly inferior to Canton teams in general and the Shibutanis in particular.
Originally Posted by Dragonlady
2. I like the Shibutanis and find them very talented and likable; I have since first seeing them at 2009 JW. But I do feel they were generously scored at times last year. I'm also not sure the sort of immediate success they enjoyed will be good for them in the long-term.
3. In the previous page of this thread, I addressed the argument that the Shibutanis are limited because they are a sibling team. In short: I don't buy it. The Kerrs were never limited artistically, because there are options open to ice dancers beyond romantic programs. I would argue that rather than constraining them, not being able to do romantic stuff only made the Kerrs more creative. If the Shibutanis are showing a lack of range, it is more likely because of their youth and inexperience, and because their coaching team lacks the creativity needed when working with siblings.
10-13-2011, 02:32 PM
Davis & White just announced in today's teleconference they have changed their FD to Die Fledermaus by Strauss instead of the Nina Rota piece. Their SD music is the same. They will end the SD with JLo's On the Floor which includes the circular steps and the lift.
10-13-2011, 03:34 PM
Thanks for the news. Did they give a reason for the change? If not, I wonder if this was due to the tighter rules on music choices. Die Fledermaus has a much more definite rhythm than the score from La Strada. I admit I love that score but if it was going to risk a deduction, then it's smart to drop it. Perhaps they will still turn it into an exhibition.
10-13-2011, 03:43 PM
Wicked Yankee Girl
I wouldn't be surprised if it's the music ..but it is darn close to SA to be changing the FD
10-13-2011, 03:48 PM
Trixie Schuba's biggest fan!
Yes, it's three weeks away! EEK...
Originally Posted by dorispulaski
Or, they may have learned from their trip to Champs Camp that the music might incur deductions, so they may have been creating this FD for a few weeks now.
10-13-2011, 03:54 PM
What they said was the choreo didn't really follow the storyline of the movie and the judges/officials at Champs Camp said that some judges might be confused about the storyline and of course it's not a "happy" story. Die Gledermaus music is lighter. happier and they said they will be keeping the "masked ball" aspect of the operetta.
Originally Posted by jcoates
10-13-2011, 05:04 PM
Originally Posted by KKonas
I read here somewhere that Cappellinni / Lanotte will do "La Strada", wasn't it the trigger for D/W to change suddenly their FD?
10-13-2011, 05:05 PM
Thx KKonas. Good to know the details. I think they could pull this off. Much of the time when suggestions have been made about new directions for their choreography it been to move more toward all out romantic or passionate themes. A lighthearted, playful dance aimed more at light comedy, might just be a better fit for them. We'll see soon enough.