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Thread: What makes David Wilson so special as a choreographer?

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    What makes David Wilson so special as a choreographer?

    In the voting booth under "Who is your favorite choreographer?", David Wilson got 54 votes, 32.14% in favor among GS members. Followed by Lori Nichol, only 31 votes so far and 18.34%. 29 votes and 17.26% scattered somewhere not on the list.

    I have a little idea but not absolutely sure why David Wilson is way up there and special?
    Last edited by Bluebonnet; 05-09-2012 at 11:42 AM.

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    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Because he understands IJS very well in terms of what scores points. He also is able to capitalize on what the skaters' strengths are while minimizing their weaknesses throughout their programs (and each skater is different). Finally, his programs are not cookie cutter to each other and don't necessarily use warhorse music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mskater93 View Post
    Because he understands IJS very well in terms of what scores points. He also is able to capitalize on what the skaters' strengths are while minimizing their weaknesses throughout their programs (and each skater is different). Finally, his programs are not cookie cutter to each other and don't necessarily use warhorse music.
    I think Lori Nichol did the best in the bolded part. Also, why is warhorse music so disliked?

    I repeat what I've said before in another thread, I think Lori Nichol is the master of CoP era. She has had many many more winning programs than David Wilson ever had. David Wilson's "Life Is Beautiful" for Jeremy Abbott was not a very good CoP program even though I loved a couple of movements in there very much.

    Against everybody, and also some Patrick fans, I dare to say that I don't really like David Wilson's choreograph of "Mannish Boy" for Patrick. On the contrary, I love Lori Nichol's work for Patrick's "Aranjuez" to this. But I do want to learn your rational thoughts on how good Wilson is.
    Last edited by Bluebonnet; 05-09-2012 at 12:53 PM.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebonnet View Post
    I think Lori Nichol did the best in the bolded part. Also, why is warhorse music so disliked?
    I agree with both parts of this. As for warhorse music, I think only skating insiders, not the audience, get tired of the same old music. Me, I love it. There is a reason why some music is chosen over and over. Who doesn't start snapping his fingers and swaying along with the first strains of Carmen? If I don't hear at least one Swan Lake I feel like I haven't been to a skating show.

    I think David Wilson is more of a "artist's artist." I think he is in his element with a skater like Jeremy Abbott who wants to do certain movements just because it is in his soul to do them. Wilson can bring out this inner artist, but such programs do not necessarily win competitions.

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    Beliver in Sasha's Perfect Program Tinymavy15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post

    I think David Wilson is more of a "artist's artist." I think he is in his element with a skater like Jeremy Abbott who wants to do certain movements just because it is in his soul to do them. Wilson can bring out this inner artist, but such programs do not necessarily win competitions.
    very true. but he can also choreograph very well to cater to the system and reap points out of every movement, think Yu-na programs.

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    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    As for warhorse music, I think only skating insiders, not the audience, get tired of the same old music. Me, I love it. There is a reason why some music is chosen over and over. Who doesn't start snapping his fingers and swaying along with the first strains of Carmen? If I don't hear at least one Swan Lake I feel like I haven't been to a skating show.
    You are one of the few in this regard. Most skaters HATE hearing the same music repeatedly, especially when a skater or team pick something that is CLEARLY not catering to their strengths musically (I mean YOU D/C!! Especially when you choose something like Nessun Dorma!). One of the great things about getting together with skater friends to watch a competition (and this includes on FB blowing up someone's wall with commentary) is the ability to collectively groan when Carmen/Swan Lake/The Mission/PotC etc start. At a competition recently, The Mission seemed to be the favored piece as it was heard 6 times in under 3 hours. :( And not one of those programs really stood out. I think if you are going down the warhorse road, you need to bring something different to it and not recycle choreography or ideas already been used. I saw a program locally to a World Champion's music from the previous year that recycled a bunch of choreography from a variety of elite level programs that didn't fit the music necessarily (nor the skater) at the Senior level.

    As I said, David Wilson tends to take the path less travelled musically and is artistic and creative in what he strings together. Lori N makes interesting programs selectively (like Kostner's programs these last two years). Too many of her programs are recycled stinkers (like Evan's and Mirai's programs - recycled music and movement).

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    David Wilson....

    1. Helped contribute to Yu-Na Kim's success. All but one of her key programs were done by him (Le Tango de Roxanne was done by Tom Dickson)

    2. Helped to transform Dubreuil/Lauzon into medal contenders with "Somewhere in Time"

    3. Ditto Buttle.

    4. Gave Takakashi is best program ever and one of the greatest COP programs with "In the Garden of Souls"
    5. Gave Pang/Tong one of their best programs with "Man of La Mancha"
    6. Gave Dube/Davison one of their best programs with "The Blower's Daughter"

    And other reasons.

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    I have a feeling David Wilson has a very good EQ, and this seems to reflect in his working partnership with the skaters and their collaborative efforts. He seems get a kick out of push the skater to do something that is new and different from before and not not necessarily what they are known for. This may have a high degree of risk but even if they fail in getting a medal they'd be get honorable failures. His 'Life is beautiful' was one of the reasons Jeremy Abbot remain one of my fav skaters today.

    With Lori, she know the system well and gets the skater's best qualities. She knows what will appeal to the judges by emphasis on the skater's strength, and make them appear even better and polished in a confident, safe and assured approach. (My only complaint is she can be too safe, the work can appear a bit generic at times.)

    I consider Lori the definitive master of COP and scoring, for her it is more design first with the objective of score, then function, aesthetics, levels all packed in a nice attractive package. Wilson seems more creative conceptual first, skater 2nd, then he simply let it 'roll' by adding features and aesthetics that appear that complement that identified vision.

    If I was to compare them, it would be like

    IBM Vs Apple
    Mercedes Vs Audi
    Sony Vs Nokia

    It is a matter of which model you want? There are hits and misses by all of them.

    ----------

    According to Yuna's book, David Wilson did tweak her world record version of El Tango De Roxanne that had been created by Tom Dickson, so some credit should still go to him.
    Last edited by os168; 05-09-2012 at 07:37 PM.

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    I love David Wilson, too!

    Lori is probably a better choreographer for producing so-called 'winning programs' under CoP.
    However, if you ask me to 'disregard' winning, points under CoP or placements, I would much prefer David as a choreographer, so that I naturally ended up liking and his programs than Lori's.

    I LOVE David's collaborational works with artistic skaters, such as Jeff, Jeremy and Daisuke.
    When he is able to work with these skaters, David does pick up more original music and choreopragh more creative programs, I think.

    I also tend to like his music choices. Especially when he picks up from the music range I was not familiar with before, such as World music. I LOVED LOVED Jeff's LP to Ararat and Dai's SP to VAS this season! He helps me to exapand the range of music for skating, which I appreciate a lot.

    I also like when David demands skaters to go out of their comfort zone. For that matter, I loved Takahiko's SP to Inner Urge this season.

    I so agree with os168 on this:
    "He seems get a kick out of push the skater to do something that is new and different from before and not not necessarily what they are known for. This may have a high degree of risk but even if they fail in getting a medal they'd be get honorable failures."

    David with Yuna looked different to me, though. He probably more concentrated on producing 'winning programs' for her, knowing her burden to have to win OGM in Vancouver; it's just understandable, so I won't blame him.

    I see Lori as a better choreographer for skaters who focus more on competitive side of skating and winning; such as Evan and Patrick. Under CoP she is more professional because she works more to emphasis skaters' strengths, while concealing their shortcomings. She can be creative, of course, when working with someone like Kostner, but she tends to be (or looks to me) a bit hesitant and conservative when doing choreo for Mirai or Mao.

    And I see David as a better choreographer for skaters who value more on artistic side of skating; such as Jeremy and Dai. He is very good at helping skaters to stretch their artistic sides and to enlarge their potential/possibilities as a skater.

    P.S. I loved os168's comparison! IBM vs Apple
    Last edited by deedee1; 05-09-2012 at 09:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    I agree with both parts of this. As for warhorse music, I think only skating insiders, not the audience, get tired of the same old music. Me, I love it. There is a reason why some music is chosen over and over. Who doesn't start snapping his fingers and swaying along with the first strains of Carmen? If I don't hear at least one Swan Lake I feel like I haven't been to a skating show.
    I must be those one of the few too. I have similar feelings on music.

    All classical music composers were gone decades or centuries ago. Why do people still play and listen to their genius works? It's not like that people have never heard these music. It must have given people renewed feelings and inspiration. Music for skating is the same. There were only a few pieces that I'd rather not to listen again in the near future. Most of them were fine for me to listen repeatedly and some of them were welcomed to use again. Different skaters, like different musicians, have different interpretations on the same piece of music. Plushenko's Carmen was different from Lysacek's Carmen. We each have our own preference on which one we like better. (Although, I'd rather not to listen to the same cut of Carmen too soon.) The music piece on the sheet is lifeless. It's up to the skaters and the musicians to bring it to life and give it specific meaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by os168 View Post
    If I was to compare them, it would be like

    IBM Vs Apple
    Mercedes Vs Audi
    Sony Vs Nokia

    It is a matter of which model you want? There are hits and misses by all of them.
    This is so true!


    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    4. Gave Takakashi is best program ever and one of the greatest COP programs with "In the Garden of Souls".
    Deedee is here. So I'll behave better and not say any more about this piece.

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    Thanks for everyone's inputs so far! I agree that David Wilson is an extraordinary choreographer! His work tends to be a little take easy at the times, but full of surprises. Lori Nichol's works could have quite a bit of demand on skater's strength and stamina. Maybe it's only good for the best of the best skaters, not for everyone? Because only the best skaters could fullfil the original meaning of her choreography. We've seen many many very beautiful Lori Nichol programs won. But her programs for other skaters sometimes tend to be a little plain. I think Mira Nagasu's SP of this season was good but her LP was not. The extraordinariness of these world class choreographers are that they could invent time and again new movements which are unique to the specific programs! For competitions, I absolutely trust Lori Nichol the most from every perspective, including PCSes. You might be able to count on Wilson for the enjoyment and artistry (though to me, it's not always reliable), but you cannot count on his program for winning.

    Pogue, if you have time, I'd love to read your list on the extraordinariness of Lori Nichol since you know much more than most of us. Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebonnet View Post

    Deedee is here. So I'll behave better and not say any more about this piece.
    You are a good girl today!

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    Trixie Schuba's biggest fan! blue dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebonnet View Post
    I must be those one of the few too. I have similar feelings on music.

    All classical music composers were gone decades or centuries ago. Why do people still play and listen to their genius works? It's not like that people have never heard these music. It must have given people renewed feelings and inspiration. Music for skating is the same. There were only a few pieces that I'd rather not to listen again in the near future. Most of them were fine for me to listen repeatedly and some of them were welcomed to use again. Different skaters, like different musicians, have different interpretations on the same piece of music. Plushenko's Carmen was different from Lysacek's Carmen. We each have our own preference on which one we like better. (Although, I'd rather not to listen to the same cut of Carmen too soon.) The music piece on the sheet is lifeless. It's up to the skaters and the musicians to bring it to life and give it specific meaning.
    My response is slightly OT, but I agree. When people use warhores, many of us may not like the choice, but sometimes, when a skater does something special with a piece of music that has been used, we remember them for it. When Katarina Witt used Carmen, she brought the character to life. Carmen had been used by many skaters before her. It is when a skater uses a warhorse and does nothing special with it that many of us go--oh, here we go again!

    As to the original question, David Wilson is more of a storyteller, than Lori Nichol. I think both choreographers are special, but David is the better storyteller, which is why he was such a good fit for the skaters he has worked with. Lori, I think, is better at choreographing pieces for skaters whose strengths are either character pieces or lyrical pieces. Then you have Tarasova who is the queen of drama (not to be confused with drama queen), and Zoueva, whose strengths lie in exploring the relationships people have with one another.

    I didn't mention Morozov with these individuals, because for me, if there is a choreographer who does recycle-- it is him.

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    For me, when David Wilson has worked with skaters with strong edging (Abbott, Kozuka, Takahashi...) the footwork sequences have turned out quite amazing and creative. Even if I don't particularly enjoy the program as a whole, I find that that the footwork is usually the section(s) of the program that I do enjoy. For one example, as much as I wasn't feeling the music and Kozuka's attempts to be charismatic and sexy during his "Inner Urge" SP (sorry Koz...) all was forgiven once I found myself fully immersed in the footwork sequence.

    My big problem with Wilson is I feel like he tries to turn every skater who comes to him for choreography into a "star!" and sometimes it just doesn't work (again Kozuka), and especially with the ladies, their programs choreographed by him can end up giving me wannabe Yuna Kim vibes. Wilson creates well-put together programs in general, but there is an almost fake quality to them as well because it just seems the girls wave their arms a certain way or pull a face a certain way because David told them to, and I would get that feeling watching Yuna too. The placement of the moves in the field elements during his programs can be very predictable as well.


    I agree that Lori's choreography shines through when she is given a skater with great skill to work with. I guess Asada, Kostner and of course Chan are good examples. I also agree that the quality of the programs she creates can go downhill when she works with skaters that aren't as capable. That being said, when I compare all the work that she has created for Chan throughout the years, there is a sense of deja vu for me during these programs in how unnecessarily busy looking they can sometimes be (because it's a great and smart way to gain points, and don't get me wrong, I do respect the skill and stamina required) and the overall sameness of some of the footwork sequences. For example, I was watching his "Tango de los Exiliados" SP the other day and couldn't get his POTO LP out of my head because of how much the steps during the programs reminded me of each other. At times, I almost, almost felt like I was watching the same program. I think the busy and extremely complex choreography suited Aranjuez, though, and it was the first program from Chan since his "The Four Seasons" LP that I could fully get into. I love that program!

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    Tripping on the Podium
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    If Morozov is the king of recycling, Lori Nicol is the queen of recycling. A lot of programs she produced in last 5/6 years were recycled from what she did before. Also, she didn't even bother to change step sequences for one skater when you look at that skater's programs across seasons. I feel she has lost most of the magic she used to have when she worked with Michelle Kwan.

    I would consider Sandra Bezic is a better choreographer than most of the currently active ones such as Morozov, Lori, David etc.

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