10-14-2011, 11:56 AM
Off the ice
Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue
That was also my interpretation - they way they support each other and are supported on their journey together. I remember how IP tried to sell us on this program when they debuted it, and I'll admit I didn't see it at first. But I totally fell for it at Euros; they were brilliant there.
Originally Posted by all that
Well, different strokes and all. I agree there are some pairs-like ice dance teams, but I would certainly not place P/B in that category. As far as I can tell, they are not slower than most teams and don't skate far apart unless the choreo calls for it as part of the program concept. I did find them less sharp than V/M when I saw both teams live two years ago, but as far as I can tell from TV, P/B have made greater strides since then.
Originally Posted by Dragonlady
RfaD was possibly my least favorite FD from them. They had different music at the Masters which was a much better fit, and someone advised them to make a change - very poor advice.
10-14-2011, 12:00 PM
Wicked Yankee Girl
Well, I like P&B, but one of their problems is that they have been mistake prone throughout their career. I didn't like their RfaD FD at all. Having Fabian made up as a clock was just too annoying.
10-14-2011, 12:14 PM
I've seen P&B live a few times and I've tried hard to like them because they are one of the truly original teams in dance, and I think originality should be rewarded. Compared to the other European teams, they aren't slow, but compared to the top North American teams, they are noticeably slower. The matching lines thing really bugs me. Everyone has their personal annoyances and in dance, this is mine. V&M's line match, even when they're not watching one another. I love that about them.
Originally Posted by Buttercup
10-14-2011, 01:04 PM
Canton's a good technical school (well, at least for some things) but there's not much creativity in the programs.
That's kind of a strong statement. No creativity? Last year, every commentator on TV kept praising Zoueva/Shpilband for creating totally different, unique programs/packaging for each of their 4 top teams. So how does that equal not much creativity? I'd be interested to know which ice dance choreographers/coaches are considered more creative.
10-14-2011, 01:37 PM
This is a standard complaint you see from European ice-dance fans and it might have been true of Sphilband before Zueva joined him in Detroit but it certainly isn't true since Zueva has taken the lead in choreography. Let's start with the lifts. No one is attempting the level of difficulty or creativity that S&Z's team are attempting in their lifts. Even when lifts are used in more than one season, changes are made to up the ante in difficulty. The moves are high risk, innovative and interesting.
Originally Posted by Buttercup
Next there's the choices these teams have made: Pink Floyd for V&M. Where Del/Shoes did a very traditional ice-dance to Dark Side of the Moon, V&M tried all sorts of different and original moves to the music and really captured the essence of Pink Floyd in their program. I wish they could have skated that program full out. I would have loved to have seen it really well skated.
Next there's D&W's Bollywood dance. One of my favourite OD's of all time. No one has done Bollywood before or since and you can hardly say that program wasn't creative.
Next there's the Mahler FD that V&M won their OGM with. Who has even attempted doing a FD to Mahler, much less one with such difficulty and emotional intensity?
Every choreographer has signature moves and flourishes that define their style. When you think of Bob Fosse, a particular look and style of movement comes to mind. It's what defines a Fosse dance and in dance, that's seen as a good thing, but for some reason, in ice-dance it's called "lack of creativity".
10-14-2011, 01:41 PM
Off the ice
Every commentator? We must be watching different TV channel, then. Their top teams last year had very traditional concepts, nothing particularly creative. I think they're spread too thin, similar to Lori Nichol. There is a limit to how many good programs choreographers can come up with. And I stand by what I wrote earlier, that they seem to have a hard time with teams that don't really relate to each other in romantic/passionate way.
Originally Posted by eyria
Christopher Dean has done some interesting work. I think F/S's Immigrants that has been mentioned in this thread, while not groundbreaking, was a really good program; I believe that was Camerlengo's work? The Kerrs had some good ones - last year's, if I'm not mistaken, was choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev. P/B have often worked with non-ice dance choreographers and have had some pretty cool programs.
10-14-2011, 01:46 PM
Wicked Yankee Girl
And I would add D&W's Samson & Delilah, one of my very favorite programs from the last 10 years.
Not every creation of an artist or choreographer is going to be their masterpiece However, Shpilband and Zoueva seem to have at least one if not two really good programs per year, for the last four years. That's a pretty good run.
Last year I loved Chock & Zuerlein's Caberet, which fitted them both so well, and the Shibs FD, again perfectly suited to them. Not to mention, totally different from each other.
The year before, D&W's Bollywood and V&M's Mahler, once the exit from the Goose was changed.
Year before that D&W's Samson & Delilah. And V&M's Pink Floyd was very good too, and I wish I had been able to see V&M skate it perfectly. Despite the fact that they never skated it too well, I loved D&W's Charleston OD too.
Year before that Belbin's Chopin was lovely.
Pretty good stuff, I think. Not nearly as repetitive as Lori Nichol, for example.
Last edited by dorispulaski; 10-14-2011 at 01:49 PM.
10-14-2011, 02:51 PM
I couldn't agree more with your examples Doris. Davis & White's Samson & Delilah is one of my all-time favorite programs too, not just in ice dance but in all of skating.
Another great program from Canton was Davis & White's Eleanor Rigby free dance. I really loved that free dance. To me, it captured the melancholy, poignant mood of the music so perfectly. It was such a quiet, yet hypnotic, program--really different from many of their other dances. Everything about it, even the costuming, was just perfectly suited to the music. To me it's amazing that the same choreographer created both this program and the Bollywood original dance. If that isn't creative, I don't know what is!
10-14-2011, 02:52 PM
I have a question for those who complain that COP has made ice dance too much of a technical exercise at the expense of artistry. Have you ever listened to the constructive criticism offered by judges and commentators in dance competitions, even ones with celebrities like DWTS? And if you have, why should ice dance be approached differently aside from any ice specific concerns? I want ice dance to be as aesthetically pleasing as the next guy, but not at the expense of technique. (That's one reason the Duchenays bugged me. Tons of fun and interesting concepts, but largely recycled programs from T/Ds pro career, repetitive moves, and very unsteady edges and two foot skating. But if I pointed that out to fan, I would be run out of the room.)
It's all about the technique first and foremost in ballet, ballroom, latin, modern and so on. In that world, good artistry can't exist without proper technique (frame, hold, extension, turnout, foot placement, posture, hip action, lifts and their legality, time in and out of hold, timing, counts, closeness, floor coverage, etc.). Nevertheless, not all technical categories carry the same weight. Lovely long lines and extensions do count as technical pluses, but they tend to matter less than close holds and correctly performed steps.
Now ice dance has many differences from ballet, ballroom and latin dance, and not every principle translates. But the principle of focusing on the technical base first finally appears to be consistent across both at this point in time. That was always my complaint about dance in pre-COP years. There were no clear rules for what was expected of the athletes in the FD. The ISU spent decades imposing one music and lifting restriction after another, but pretty much ignored what was being done on the ice. Of course CDs were very rigid as were OSPs. ODs were less so but FD standards just seems to get more and more abstract in terms of what was expected. It was very hard for me to explain what was being done to anyone who was a casual observer. Now at least there is more clarity and everyone is being held to the same standard. Any artistry that results from that is a measure of the talents and creativity of the skaters and their coaches, but it shouldn't matter if the technique is not there.
RE: the discussion of the relative creativity of Marina and Igor, I get the impression that each side of the argument has a different standard of creativity: variety vs originality. Another way of labeling the difference is: functional vs artistic creativity.
I know of at least one specific instance I can remember (a critique by a ballroom dancer/instructor in an interview) where they were praised for the different programs they created. I think in that instance, creativity is seen as being synonymous with variety. There was a range of choreographic dance styles used with the Canton teams last year across the various ballroom and latin genres as well as two theatrical, character driven pieces (one unseen) which catered to their individual strengths. Yes, they were largely conventional themes; but to come out with programs that fit each team so well, used different lifts, a variety of twizzles and steps, improved each of their skating skill sets, and effectively achieved the intended artistic mood of the music is a pretty remarkable feat. (BTW the Canton teams have used outsiders in crafting their programs. They gave their Indian dance instructor credit for helping to design the Bollywood OD. V/M worked with a Flamenco dancer on their Olympic OD. All worked with a ballroom competitor on their SDs this year and their FDs last year.)
Compare that to some of the Russian teams last year for example. Many of their programs had interesting concepts on their face, but the actual dancing often did not fit the concept. R/T's FD is one example. I believe I remember reading a comment from Doris about it not invoking any sense of Mexico or latin American flavor to her. I/Ks FD could arguably be criticized for similar reasons. The costuming was there, as were the balletic lines and facial expressions, but it was all very superficial. It did not enhance the skating and had little to do with the story of Don Quixote. B/Ss programs all come across to me as being pretty much the same thing and with a different theme slapped on top. C/Ps FD last year was certainly interesting, but I stated then and maintain now, that if you dig deeper, it was a program of largely recycled moves and concepts from Chris Dean's own pro career and his time choreographing for the Duchenays (esp, their 1989 FD). That's my problem with is choreography sometimes. It seems like it would be a better fit for him and Jayne than for the team he's working with. So yes they all had themes which might be considered less conventional and very interesting at times. But did those themes succeed in creating good dances? I'd say not necessarily.
I think of good choreography much like I think of good design. If it's not functional first, it has little interest to me. It has to have a point. It does not have to be conventional. Modern, abstract etc. are all acceptable to me, but there has to be a reason behind the choice and how it is ultimately executed. I can point to a functional reason for each of the Canton teams programs, as well as Hubbell/Donohue and even P/B. I can't really do that for any of the programs from the Russian teams I've seen so far this year. I've not seen W/P yet so I'll reserve judgment on them.
Last edited by jcoates; 10-14-2011 at 03:40 PM.
10-14-2011, 02:54 PM
Off the ice
Let's not start with the lifts. Lifts are an element. They get a base value and GOEs. They are not an example of creative choreography, especially when they are not well-integrated into the program. In fact, I would argue that the race to create ever more difficult lifts in which the women contort themselves into weird positions without any thought to lines and extension are to the detriment of ice dance, not something to applaud. This is not to say a cool lift shouldn't be recognized as such; for instance, what Hurtado and Diaz did last season with the reverse lift was really cool (I love H/D; I hope they can improve technically because they have star quality). But it does not a program make, and shouldn't be used as an example of good choreography. It's purely technical and often more about acrobatics than dance.
Originally Posted by Dragonlady
I have enjoyed some programs from Canton teams (V/M's Flamenco was fabulous), but by the same token, I've liked some Nichol programs (her work with Carolina Kostner especially). Still, on the whole, I am not a fan, and I do not like Canton being held up as the shining standard of great choreography. It has nothing to do with my geographical location; I do not have a horse in this race.
p.s. I dislike Samson and Delilah and Eleanor Rigby; really I dislike D/W in general (as ice dancers - they could be lovely people for all I know).
JCoates, I just saw you put up a long post but can't get to it today; I'll try tomorrow.
10-14-2011, 03:13 PM
I have to say I always learn a lot on Goldenskate. Few followups/answers:
I do not want to go back to the 6.0 days. Taken on the whole, I think COP is a huge improvement. I like that dance is more technical. I like that skaters can understand where they need to improve, and where they are doing well. It's actually much more fun for a spectator as well. I'm not that great at this yet, but I'm starting to get close to calling results in line with judges. This has never been more true than with the old CD. With no true, set guidelines, it was always open to all sorts of political pressure, prior expectations and rankings, etc. It still is that way in the lower levels to a great extent. That "looked nice" and was "fast" so they scored over another team, even though the dance was off time, off pattern, not at the right spot on the rink, etc. Too much room for opinion and personal preference. The expectations for Junior and Senior in the SD are very clear. Someone mentioned up-thread that there is a pendulum. Right now, the technical is taking a stronger place, as opposed to the artistic side. I would like to see more balance. Why does everyone have to imitate each other? There has to be room for uniqueness and art within the structure? Music is generally very scientific, but there is so much room for creativity with line and phrase and style. I have to think it is possible to have both. I think we are getting some difficult tricks, but missing the real essence and quality of skating in many respects.
And this is where I think having some age and maturity does help with the quality of skating. Some of the compulsory dances of Delobel/Schoenfelder and Dubreil/Lauzon were simply spectacular. Blades and bodies so close together, in unison, deep edges, smooth, well connected to each other and the music, just on a whole different level than so many others. That takes years of practise. I am not knocking the young teams in Russia or in Canada, for that matter. But I do see a trend. There is a lot of focus on the tricks and skating fast, and not on the quality of movement. It often looks like they are checking the boxes one element at a time. I used the term "robots" because to me skating is becoming almost formulaic. If you follow the formula, you win. Where are the proper turns and edges? What about matching leg lines, extensions, unison? And there is a ton of two-foot skating and cross-cuts even in the Junior teams that are winning. And the big tricks tend to be easier to do with smaller, younger bodies. I agree that the top Juniors will be sort of in line with good Seniors, but I remember when a top Junior team would find themselves in 11th or 12th at worlds in their debut at Senior - Crone/Poirier, Samuelson/Bates, etc. - and that was a great result. Virtue/Moir were a shocking exception. But they are a special team. Not the norm. And teams used to stick together and stay long and develop at Seniors. How many people approaching or over 30 years old are there in the top ranks of ice dance today? Not many.
When I look at the scores last weekend, I saw the Junior Russians beat the Shibs based on marks. They were shockingly close to Virtue/Moir scores in the SD. There is no comparison in the skating quality. Not even close! This seems to be happening much more. I think the system needs to be tweaked to better define, if possilble (not even sure how one would define this), the PCS marks and maybe GOE, which should reflect a quality standard. 9's and 10's and +3's should be reserved for a standard like Virtue/Moir, Davis/White, etc. And the standards should in some way translate well down the ranks. If the standards were more defined, then skaters would be better able to judge their real achievements, and set realistic expectations and goals (as opposed to what happened to I/K this past season). If a skater achieves a level 8, and some +3's, they will know they have achieved at least a certain standard. And creativity should be rewarded.
I don't "hate" the Shibs. I actually really like them, and think they are really talented. Of all the teams on the world stage, I think they have the most potential to step into the winners' circle once Davis/White and Virtue/Moir retire from competitive skating. But I don't think they are at that level yet in terms of the real quality of skating. I was one of those people that felt that Weaver/Poje deserved to be marked higher than the Shibs on the SD last year, and should have won the bronze. I wasn't a fan of Weaver/Poje's FD, but they skated it well at Worlds. And my goodness she needs to learn to point her toes already. But their SD was very lovely. And they had the technical goods, plus an edge artistically.
I also don't begrudge the success of Canton, or think that they have short-cutted to success. As others have stated, they understand the system well, and have done a very good job of making the best use of that system. I think when you have some good teams, it attracts other good teams. Virtue/Moir and Davis/White are good friends off the ice, and push each other to be better on the ice. Some teams need that energy in a rink every day. Success breeds success. About Virtue/Moir: they are a very unusual, special team. A lot of circumstances have conspired together for them to be the success they are: they are naturally gifted musically, they are the right size for each other and have always been the right size for each other, they've skated together since they were 7 and 9 years old, they had fabulous training in the very beginning all the way to Junior with Paul MacIntosh (who also is responsible for the goodness that is Andrew Poje, and for the early success of Weaver/Poje), they have strong competitive spirits, they have a solid beautiful friendship together, they work well together, Shpilband/Zoueva have given them outstanding vehicles and choreography over the years, they have strong supportive families. The result is equisite, clean, deceptively simple looking skating that I am eager to see develop, now that they are all grown up. This year, the SD is very hot, and the FD is going to grow into a masterpiece over the season. All those details. Just amazing. Not much 2-footed skating or cross-cuts there.
I do think it is a good thing that there is another Detroit Club. I think it is healthy for the sport to have different ideas and perspectives. I do think there is a bit of a surge there. Krylova/Carmelengo have quite a number of very good teams there. I am very interested to see those teams develop. They've done a great job with Weaver/Poje. About Weaver/Poje: they may not have liked being in the wilderness, and I certainly feel they "wuzrobbed" on a number of occasions, but their time away from the spotlight made them hungry, made them work hard, and solidify as a team. They are stronger for it, and I hope they have found confidence now to carry them through into the next season.
As for NA vs the rest of the world, I don't think there has to be a "them and us". I think there is a dire need for teams Novice and up from Europe to spend some real, quality time in some clubs in NA. There are quite a few in Canada and the US. Not everyone has to congregate in 2 clubs in Detroit. At the same time, NA could use a helping hand with some new choreography and creative ideas from Europe. The sport will be better for this.
Do I worry a little too much about the baby Juniors seeing too much success too fast, and what that will potentially do to their longevity in the sport and their confidence/self-image? Maybe. I agree there is a cultural shift, and there will be increasing media and attention on the lower levels, not just senior. I wholeheartedly agree that it's the coaches' job to help the kids stay well-grounded, and the federation's job not to hype too much or expect too much too soon. We are going to need very wise coaches as well as technical directors at the sections and at Nationals who look out for the best interest of the kids individually and as a team, with a long-term view, and not just what is in the best interests of the federation next season.
10-14-2011, 03:26 PM
Your whole post was great, but this part caught my eye. For some reason that got me thinking about Apple. (I'm also a total Apple fan girl, but that's a different story). When you look at Apple products, it's pretty straightforward -- modern, grey/white/black palette, smooth lines. There's nothing new about it -- but yet when you see it, it's a beautiful thing. But another thing that is great is that beautiful design is backed by some great functionality.
Originally Posted by jcoates
People will rail against the iPhone because it doesn't have XYZ feature that Android/Windows phone has. But Apple's priority is not jamming in features for the sake of having them, but testing it out over and over again until they figure out how those features can best function. You saw that with the iPhone 4S. Everyone complained about it when it was revealed because it didn't have a new design/smaller design, but the problem was that they couldn't see that the guts of the phone -- more processing power, HD video and camera, voice activation (right out of sci-fi!).
Likewise with the Canton teams, everyone fusses about the outside of their programs without really considering the technical aspects they're working on the inside of it. The Shibs are in particular an example of this. All everyone could see is that their program was the same without looking at the fact they upgraded their tech content to do that "same program."
10-14-2011, 03:29 PM
Davis & White don't relate to one another in a romantic way and their choreography has been some of the best work that S&Z have done. The Shibs FD was widely praised last year and they don't relate in a romantic manner. The Cabaret program they did for C&Z was not romantic in nature.
Originally Posted by Buttercup
10-14-2011, 07:44 PM
Constable , Costume Police
So many good posts to reply to..and my fingers are already pretty worn down...
jcoates..excellent points re: choreography !
The now familiar criticism leveled against camp Canton ( and particularly Zueva ) just seems reactionary in many cases. In other cases it seems to boil down to a matter of personal preference in style... but I don't like it is a different thing from it's no good. That doesn't mean Z/S are above criticism, or can't be self-referential, now and then ( perhaps in a lift or the way steps are woven together, e.g.)..I think that's inevitable to some degree for any choreographer working with many different skaters. But mostly, I feel these criticisms don't hold much water. I feel Zueva is really scrupulous about setting out to design choreography to fit the skater , and has a very deft feel for it.
Christopher Dean, OTOH,( just as an example ) seems to continually wrap the skater around his choreography, regardless of body type and individual style of the skater. When it all comes together it's fabulous..but the best it ever came together was for himself and Jane..the next best fit was D/D.. Paul Duschenay could always sell it through his riveting intensity.
I have to disagree a bit with buttercup... the lifts and all the other elements and steps are the vocabulary of choreography, and can't be considered a separate thing. I agree they should fit with the overall effect , but here again, the Z/S teams have some of the best, that just float up out of nowhere..and very few, if any, seem out of place..( Like doris, while I felt the Goose was more suited to PF, the second exit really helped incorporate it into the Mahler program.).. Yes, I know the layout of the program is important, location and placement of the elements matters..but without the elements , it's just a layout.
P/B's Dreamer / Clock thing is an excellent example of why just some idea that hasn't been tried before can't make a program artistic..you had to be told what they were supposed to represent. ( Well anyone could see he was a clock, but you didn't know why she was skating with him ).I don't think different music would have improved it. Narrative itself doesn't make art , though it can be a part of it. I'm with the ISU on this ..If you're going to use narrative you'd better follow the K.I.S.S. rule.
A program that really stood out for me and worked either as a narrative program or a character piece was F/S's Commedia Del Arte program.( I don't think the face paint was necessary, though ).
I have to take a break and come back..
10-14-2011, 10:34 PM
Just came across the fact that D/W skated to Fledermouse before, when they were ....babies, an OD in 2002-03
Originally Posted by jcoates