Last edited by lulu; 10-20-2012 at 06:35 PM.
Didn't care for the movie, liked the routine re "Frida" but didn't love it.
lulu, I've gotta ask. You're a judge in 1993. You watch both Grishuk/Platov and Usova/Zhulin's FD back to back. Which do you go for? I've been watching these two free dances (St. James Infirmary and Blues for Klook) obsessively these past two weeks. On the one hand, U/Z were the better skaters at the time and get the blues on a far more primal level than G/P. But G/P have a dark, fascinating interpretation to go along with their technical audacity.
But I was completely transfixed by Usova & Zhulin's routine. Their free dance really is incredible. I think you put it right, they really seemed to "get" the blues. I love the sensuality and underlying intensity (different from the darker, more overt intensity of G&P's routine). This is probably going to sound a bit bizzare, but there's something almost "trance" like about their performance. I prefer their lifts as well.
I think both teams did justice to their music. Rewatching these great blues routines, and I would also include U&Z's "Summertime" OD to the list, I would have loved to have seen M&D interpret the blues as well. IMO, they were one of the few top pair teams (along perhaps with Selezneva & Makarov) that I can see doing a brilliant job skating to the blues.
What about you?
Last edited by lulu; 10-20-2012 at 07:46 PM.
Usova and Zhulin have such a beautiful fluidity, both in terms of physical movement and of emotional projection. I always found G/P a bit hectic and melodramatic by comparison. I'll have to go back and watch those two programs.
G/P's surprised me more, I think. I didn't revisit it much - I idolize "Memorial" (speaking of intensity), love "Libertango" and "The Feeling Begins." I didn't revisit much of their early programs, truth be told. I don't like their first OGM FD all that much (a little too cluttered) and as Olympia said, their earlier programs were a bit hectic (the more Tarasova took over their choreography, the better they got, if I have my chronology correct). But this is really a fierce program. I like programs that explore the darker emotions: Jeffrey Buttle's "Naqoyqaatsi" or Carolina Kostner's Shostakovitch are examples. But this is much more violent than figure skating usually gets. It gets me on a gut level. And the program is so technically challenging - the way their bodies are constantly shifting in relation to each other. Very powerful stuff.
But Usova/Zhulin.... okay, so what's the word when you add grace with sensuality? And technical difficulty. Because that's what this is. It's a graceful performance - movements merge into each other with sublime ease. There's very little telegraphing of movements, so everything seems both a surprise but perfectly in tune with the music - like you can't imagine any other movement ever working as well. But some of the movements are really unusually too, which is what makes it such an original piece of choreography. They're the rare ice dance team that you can't see a single ugly movement. Seriously - stop a youtube video and try to see if the image they create is ugly. Hint... it's not. Very few teams have that ability. Virtue/Moir. Klimova/Ponamarenko. It's so rare and so awesome to see two dancers so in tune with one another their bodies practically melt together. Oh, and this program is quite hot. Sensual, definitely. The final pose alone has more carnality than most ice dance careers. If I hear "Blues for Klook" I think of this interpretation. If I'm moving to this music, I'm trying to emulate Zhulin (and failing miserably :D)
So I guess Usova/Zhulin. But the truth? Whichever one I'm watching at that exact moment.
Earlier, I mentioned that I would have liked to have seen G&P revisit this music in 1996, 1997, 1998, when they were at their peak, but looking back at their performance, what made it so powerful was rawness of it. That same rawness and edgyness may not have been present when a more polished G&P skated.
What do you think of Usova & Zhulin's 1994 Free Dance? Stylistically, it is a departure from all of their previous free dances.
Last edited by lulu; 10-21-2012 at 12:05 AM.
Oh, man, I so wanted Usova/Zhulin to win in 1994. I can't believe this splendid duo never won an OGM. Well, life doesn't always arrange itself tidily.
I know what you mean about Zhulin being one of the male skaters one watches as much as or more than the female partner. He's so commanding. His musicality adds so much to the partnership. It's significant that he later became a coach and choreographer: he's plainly always had a deep understanding of every aspect of skating--very much like Christopher Dean.
Last edited by Olympia; 10-21-2012 at 12:32 AM.
At the 1989-1990 season, the Duchesnays unveiled their transformative "Missing" FD. While the Duchesnays, or at least Isabelle, could not compete with the Russians in terms of technique, their free dance that year really was a watershed moment in ice dance. So now U&Z were the third team behind the Duchesnays & Klimova & Ponomarenko.
After both of those teams retired in 1992, U&Z dominated the 1992-1993 cycle. In 1993-1994, they were eclispsed by Grishuk & Platov, who would transform ice dancing with their speed and very difficult footwork. U&Z were an excellent team. They had the misfortune of competiting against K&P and G&P, who along with T&D, are probably the top three ice dance teams in history, and on top of that, competiting against the Duchesnays when they were at their creative peak.
That being said, I do think there are a few examples where Usova & Zhulin did not place as high as they should have. At the 1991 World Championships, they placed 3rd in free dance. I thought they should have won, although I would have had no problems with K&P placing 1st because of their overall difficulty. A more blatant example is the 1992 Olympics. K&P were in a class by themselves at this competition and deserved the OGM. Usova & Zhulin though should have won the silver medal over the Duchesnays. Their West Side Story program was nowhere near the same level as Missing or even Mirror Image and Savage Rites.
As for U&Z's 1994 FD, I go back and forth on it. If I'm watching U&Z's free dances in chronological order, I tend to like the 1994 free dance a lot more; it is different from their more intense and dramatic style, it's refreshing and I appreciate skaters who go outside their comfort zone. On the otherhand, if I'm ranking U&Z's free dances from most favorite to least favorite, that free dance is always towards the bottom of my list.
Last edited by lulu; 10-21-2012 at 01:26 PM.
Usova/Zhulin should've come second in 1991 because K/P were technically superior. Duchesnays should've been third.
Usova/Zhulin should've come second in 1992 Albertville - K/P basically had one of the greatest free dances ever (and they were underscored. How they didn't receive any sixes for that, I don't know) and they deserved their victory. You can make an argument for G/P in third over the Duchesnays, but we all know that wasn't happening.
U/Z deserved their world title and the 1992 silver medal at Worlds.
You know, lulu, watching the programs in Lillehammer again, I probably would give U/Z the gold but it's not highway robbery. I quite like the free dance (even more than their 1991 FD!), and even though their personal relationship had soured acrimoniously, I probably would've given it to them. No one really dominated the competition like K/P did in 1992 or G/P did in 1998.
Snejina, I have a Bulgarian friend. Once when she went home to Sofia, she saw Denkova on the street. She isn't a skating fan, but she knew I would be thrilled when she told me. Alas, my friend was too shy to ask for an autograph on my behalf. Denkova/Staviskiy are probably in my top five of favorite ice dance teams. (Have to leave room for Klimova/Ponomarenko, Torville/Dean, and the current Canadian and American pairs, V/M and D/W. I can't decide on how to put them in order, except that K/P are probably at the top.)
I'll add a few.
K/O's 1998 Jive. I felt they captured the spirit of the jive better than anyone. I also loved their Masquerede Waltz FD.
A/P's Man in The Iron Mask. I still don't understand how they lost the world title that year.
D/W's Samson and Delilah,Eleanor Rigby Die Fleidermaus and Bollywood
S/P's "Orchid" FS as well as their Tristan and Isolde FS
B/S Lady Caliph and City Lights
G/G The Man I love
Matt Savoie's The Mission FS
Jeremy Abbott's Muse FS from last year as well as his 2010 FS
Daisuke Takahashi's Blues For Klook FS
Michelle Kwan's Lyra Angelica, The Feeling Begins, The Red Violin, Tosca and Solome