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Thread: Free Dance

  1. #136
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    If skating truly wishes to break out of its niche status, the path out of the wilderness will be carved by its stars rather than its events. D/W and V/M are the biggest active stars in the sport right now in any discipline. With Mao, Yu-Na and Lysacek and Plushenko up in the air, the main draw now is dance. Using them in some kind of coordinated way (be that at SC, a made for TV competition, etc.) could draw in new eyes. Build up the rivalry. Generate interest for the betterment of the sport.
    This is true. But then skating needs to recognize what a draw the two teams are and pay them appearance fees accordingly. Especially, USFS should not expect V&M to show up at Skate America just because they are noble people seeking to advance skating, and SC should not expect D&W to just show up at SC, again because they are nice, noble people wishing to advance skating, while the federations line their pockets. It should be remembered that V&M owe nothing to USFS, and D&W owe nothing whatever to SC either.

    I still can't imagine why anyone would think it would work that way.

  2. #137
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    It seems fans of D/W and/or V/M are itching for an early matchup just for the fans' own satisfaction.

    D/W and V/M will meet at the GPF, and then again at 4 Continents (in Colorado Springs this year) before Worlds. I think that 3 meetups are sufficient. Let the teams face off when their programs are more polished, rather than in the formative stages as they are now.

    I also think the tennis analogy is a poor one. Top-seeded professional tennis players make TONS of money at each tournament, whether they win or not, and that's because of the wide and diverse popularity of tennis as a sport. TV sponsors will hand out big $$ to showcase tennis on major TV outlets all over the world. Figure skating (ice dancing in particular) is a niche sport that doesn't draw huge audiences, hence the limited availability on TV worldwide. A matchup between D/W and V/M would draw yawns from TV sponsors.
    Last edited by chuckm; 10-31-2011 at 04:44 PM.

  3. #138
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    chuckm, I totally agree.

  4. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    When it comes down to it, the place for great rivals to meet is at great events--Worlds, Olympics, even 4CC's and the GPF. And what those rivals don't need to be doing is putting themselves at a disadvantage when they go to the big events.
    I see this as equivalent to the seeding system in tennis, where the top seeds are kept apart in the draw so they don't cancel one another out in the early rounds. The hope is of course that all the best players get through and the quality of play/competition will be is at its peak during the final rounds. Of course in tennis this process is completed during the course of one tournament. In figure skating it takes a season as there are only so many major events available.

    Additionally, the top-ranked tennis players don't usually all play the same event unless they are tier 1 or major events. In this week's tournaments for instance, Djokovic and Murray play Basel while Ferrer and Tsonga are at Valencia.

  5. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    This is true. But then skating needs to recognize what a draw the two teams are and pay them appearance fees accordingly. Especially, USFS should not expect V&M to show up at Skate America just because they are noble people seeking to advance skating, and SC should not expect D&W to just show up at SC, again because they are nice, noble people wishing to advance skating, while the federations line their pockets. It should be remembered that V&M owe nothing to USFS, and D&W owe nothing whatever to SC either.

    I still can't imagine why anyone would think it would work that way.
    Doris, that's an excellent point and one I was making quite vigorously in the Lysacek/SA thread.


    chuckm, I believe you overlooked the point I made in my last post where I explicitly mentioned that the women's tour built itself up on the strength of it top women. Pro tennis, male or female was not always at the level of popularity it is now. It certainly lacked today's relative level or prize money in its early days. That was doubly true for the women. They were as niche as it gets, a practical sideshow in the world of pro sports. Mainstream people doubted the viability of female athletes being able to carry their own tour without support from the men or the Grand Slams (just as skating is now assumed to not be viable apart from the Olympics). The men's tour deliberately tried to undermine the women. TV networks were really interested in covering joint male-female tournaments in the beginning and the only notable sponsor they could round up for themselves was a cigarette line aimed at women. Women's tour events rarely drew more than a few hundred people in many cases in their early days. Still the women built up their tour and increased its popularity on the backs of its stars, initially Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, etc. and later Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong and Martina Navratilova. They not only played their matches against each other virtually weekly, but they shared resources (coaches, practice time, hotel rooms, planes, cars), supported each other and did constant promotion on local radio, tv and in print often on the same days when they were competing. They played wherever they would be welcomed, talked to whomever would listen to them, and developed as much word of mouth as they could. It took time and there were many setbacks, but they did eventually succeed. They literally built their tour from the ground up while everyone was telling them they would fail or that they needed the men to succeed. By the late 70s, they had clearly proven their detractors wrong. My point in this thread and in others is that skating is not doomed to be a niche sport. It can grow again. But at this point, it is being mismanaged and poorly marketed to such a degree as to make that possibility distinctly less likely. I still contend that the model of women's tennis and its grassroots growth into an international sport is a valid one and worthy of consideration.

    BTW indieboi, the top men's schedule of top tier events plus Davis cup routinely make up well over half of their annual tournament entries. They are required to play 9 masters level event over a total of 11 weeks, plus four majors over 8 weeks, plus the year end championships over another week. That's 14 events over 20 weeks. Factor in at least one week off in the lead up to each major for training, travel and pre-tournament physio work, and an avg 3 weeks off for the "off-season" and you have more than half the year taken up right there. Then take into account training time for most in the spring and mid summer and early fall, an avg of 10 weeks total and you've go about 39-40 weeks there. Then there are Davis Cup commitments, sponsor events and the various charities they support. Plus many of the top men are in tour leadership now as well. That leaves very little time left over to fit any more small events in given how much travel is involved. Federer for example has played only 15 events this year including Davis Cup. Of those, only three plus Davis Cup are not Masters or Grand Slam level tournaments. The first two are in the Middle East and pay massive appearance fees to him well above any prize money he might win and the third is his hometown event which he's played since he was a teen.

  6. #141
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by katia View Post
    "USFS should invite Virtue and Moir to Skate America."

    Yes, I guess it would help them to fill up the arena(s). Watching TV, I noticed many empty places at Skate America On the other hand in Mississauga majority of places were full.
    Sadly, i don't really think it would help. I hate to be a downer, but I think ISU skating is done in the U.S. as a spectator sport.

  7. #142
    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    MM, that's really hard for me to accept particularly with regard to ice dance, seeing how big other kinds of dancing are these days. If the feds and the ISU would promote the big rivalry between two attractive teams who really have the goods, I think the audiences could grow. I'm not so sure about the ladies and pairs right now but men's, with a dominant star and all the quads-throwers who hope to challenge him, have another great story line.

  8. #143
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    ^ In that respect, I think the USFSA should carefully consider exactly what the pros and cons are of holding all of its events under the ISU hegemony.

  9. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcoates View Post
    As for the discussion of Funny Face, I share ChuckM's impression of the film. I think the dance itself is very good, but not optimal for them. A bit like D/Ws tango last season. It can certainly grow and improve, an possible win for them. I think it is likely a good vehicle to allow them to try out new things.

    I do find it interesting how different the impressions are among those who love the program vs those who only appreciate it. There was a newspaper article from the weekend on the program that praised it and went on about the lost beauty of old films and the universal lack of quality in contemporary ones. He used that point to assert that skating today is similarly devoid of inspiration. I find that to be a lazy approach to remembering the past or evaluating the present. Not every old Hollywood film was a classic or created with a pure artistic intent. Similarly, not every contemporary film is a contrived collage of CGI or screenwriting by committee. V/M are phenomenal skaters and almost anything they do will be generally well received. That does not mean every endeavor is a masterpiece or that it has to be. (Same applies to D/W, T/D, K/P, etc. btw)
    Oh, this is a much grander conversation piece than this thread would allow, but some brief thoughts.

    1. I actually think Funny Face is one of the strongest Hollywood musicals, and maybe even better than any of the legendary Astaire-Rogers collaborations. I'm more of a Sondheim man than Gershwin, admittedly, but what Donen does with light and sound is magnificent.

    2. I definitely agree with you about the remembrance of the past and the dismissive attitude towards the present, but I don't think it's entirely unfair, with one or two caveats thrown in, of course.

    3. Anything that can get Tessa to laugh as joyously as she did at the end of this dance.... well, far be it for me to question it. That stated, there are other old scores I would've prefered.

    4. I don't think figure skating will exist outside it's niche, but I do think a far grander approach than the one the ISU envisions will allow the niche to thrive and perpetuate itself, which I'm fine with.

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    I understand that Virtue is an Audrey Hepburn fan, but as lovely as Hepburn was, no one would call her a dancer. Funny Face was IMO a totally forgettable movie musical (originally performed on Broadway with Astaire and his sister Adele in 1927), so I am somewhat amused by this sudden elevation of this movie (made in 1957) as if it were a Hollywood classic. It doesn't crack the top 25 of the American Film Institute's Greatest Movie Musicals. Even for Astaire who was at the end of his dancing days in the '50s, The Band Wagon and Silk Stockings with Cyd Charisse, and Royal Wedding (with singer/dancer Jane Powell 1951), where Astaire dances with a hat rack and "on top of the ceiling" was far more memorable. So comparing Virtue to Hepburn as a dancer sort of downgrades Virtue's talents, which are far superior to Hepburn's limited efforts in Funny Face.

  11. #146
    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wallylutz View Post
    You just answered your own question.
    No, I didn't. D/W are both college students in addition to high level ice dancers. I don't see that they would choose to skate three events, especially not two back to back with no opportunity to tweak the programs between. V/M made a comment that there is a huge disincentive to agreeing to skate three events so I highly doubt that they will either. So next assertion, please, that they will meet at SC?

    BTW, not that I am angry or upset, but for future reference, I am a she not a he, Doris.

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    V/M said they were disinclined to do 3 events because of the penalty for having to withdraw due to injury. With Tessa's past history of injury, that makes a lot of sense. I can also see that D/W's commitment to education also makes 3 events just one too many.

    As for Funny Face, I saw it and it was far from one of the most compelling musicals of the 50s (it was one of the last). Hepburn was not known as a dancer, and she certainly isn't much of a singer, either. She was beautiful and charming, but obviously much too young for the near-60 Astaire of the time. It was a studio concoction, meant to be a box-office draw but it wasn't a huge success and shortly thereafter studios stopped making movie musicals altogether.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    If the Red Sox and the Yankees could do anything to skew the season so that they could end up with home field advantage when it came time for the World Series, do you think they would not take it?
    Well, it would help if the Red Sox actually qualifies for the post season to begin with and not hitting for less than 0.300 in September. Sorry, I can't resist as a Yankee fan.

    For Meryl & Charlie, there is the negative effect to their college of screwing up the schedule in successive weeks. The negative of having no chance to rearrange programs to respond to judges input. The loss of an extra week's training. An extra week of wear on expensive costumes.
    Well, you are forgetting the proposed site for SC 2012 is Windsor, which is really a twin city to Detroit similar to Minneapolis/St-Paul. The only travel they need from Detroit is half hour drive at most, probably less when there is no traffic. They don't even need to skip any classes, no more than when they are in the Detroit area.

    And what would they gain by this?
    Crush their rivals? And I assume their rivals are supposed to remain crushed?
    Just because one or the other team won Skate Canada? When the same rivals didn't feel crushed when they were beaten at Worlds?
    The 2011 World will always have an asterix because of Tessa's injury. Given that 2013 Worlds will be in Canada, they might as well get used to compete there. If they can beat V/M at Skate Canada, it would indeed send a strong message, and IMO, greater than their win at 2011 Worlds.

  14. #149
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckm View Post
    It seems fans of D/W and/or V/M are itching for an early matchup just for the fans' own satisfaction.

    D/W and V/M will meet at the GPF, and then again at 4 Continents (in Colorado Springs this year) before Worlds. I think that 3 meetups are sufficient. Let the teams face off when their programs are more polished, rather than in the formative stages as they are now.
    You are missing the point. The test balloon is asking what if D/W gets to meet V/M at the 2012 SC in Windsor? D/W have some recognition in the Detroit area so presumably, having SC there with both teams attending would be a big draw, similar to a Yankee-Red Sox showdown.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KKonas View Post
    I understand that Virtue is an Audrey Hepburn fan, but as lovely as Hepburn was, no one would call her a dancer.

    [...]

    So comparing Virtue to Hepburn as a dancer sort of downgrades Virtue's talents, which are far superior to Hepburn's limited efforts in Funny Face.
    In other words, just because the character she portrayed on ice isn't/wasn't a good dancer in real life, it implies a poor choice on the part of Tessa Virtue? And if we were to limit ourselves only to unequivocal dancers and top ranked classics, just how many choices are there? You might as well scratch the word Free from Free Dance. Frankly, what you said is not a consideration as far as a competitive program is concerned. Free Dance or Free Skating is meant as a personal interpretation of chosen music. Ryan Bradley's decision to portray Bethoven in a comical way is just as acceptable as another skater's classic interpretation. This is different to the principles of Original Dance - now Short Dance. The latter has a greater emphasis on reflecting the character of the prescribed rythm and correspondingly, IN given a bigger weight than other program component, hence the controversy at the 2010 Olympics when the Russian World Champions chose the aboriginal (Australian) music that portrayed them as uncivilized brute. You can't expect every single judge and official to know who is Audrey Hepburn. I have no idea who she was. It doesn't matter however, the important thing is how the skater portrayed it and what she did with her skates and her upper body. Audrey Hepburn could be an old lady in wheelchair and for all I know, Tessa Virtue was portraying a fairytale that the old lady grew a pair of wings & fly.


    Funny Face was IMO a totally forgettable movie musical (originally performed on Broadway with Astaire and his sister Adele in 1927), so I am somewhat amused by this sudden elevation of this movie (made in 1957) as if it were a Hollywood classic.
    Well, to me, David Freese was without a doubt the MVP of the World Series. Then I read several articles with people claiming that Carpenter really should have been the MVP. How do you argue with that?
    Last edited by wallylutz; 11-02-2011 at 08:08 PM.

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