Touche.Well...the theatre/stage is full of oxymorons. What do you call all the Shakespeare plays and its various manifestations through out the world in all sort of medium? I think the big question is what is the difference between a masterful rendition of a classic vs an amateur version? I'd say creative decision, thoughtful process are key components of the criteria.
I have a complete different reading of the story of Carmen from you. It was never about romance or passion for me, but about dangerous seduction, manipulation of emotions, dark obsession, sexual conquests, cold jealousy, gender politics, unhealthy relationships where one always strives to domineer another but at the same time at the mercy of the other (succinctly summarized in the final pose). It is the push and pull of lust, obsession, doom and death, the darker side of 'love'. Carmen has always been a profoundly dark story for me, but has been primed too much in the past with the romanticism and the fetish of the period/ exotic scenery / political background where it became more about the glam, the props/the kit, the ambiance of theater/performance environment, where its core concepts has been watered down following the culture of commercialization of Carmen. It is the equivalent of performers putting on their own Halloween costume playing 'trick or treats' doing a superficial reading of the story without getting into the honesty, the truth of the material; the heart, the blood, the guts of Carmen in its bare essence, its interdependence.
The main difference between C/L's version is they are so focused on its literal story telling, scene changes, it missed out the big picture. Their interpretation is skin deep and conforms to a theatrical version of Carmen the judges probably expect. Tessa and Scott's version on the other hand cut away the trimming, the fats and got to the heart of the emotions, exploit the fundamental concepts and realized it in a new form of a dance. It is not edgy for edgy's sake, but it with purpose and meaning.
A master performer distinct itself by the choice he/she makes. The program picked the purity of emotion and essence of Carmen and revitalized into the 21st century. In doing so, they made it uniquely their own. It is a testament to their growth and journey as a leader of this sport to able to take risks pushing for this direction. Hopefully they will be rewarded by the judges at worlds. It challenges the audience and the judge's perception of the material, but I think in the long run, this is a worthy effort that can distinct themselves from the pack. One can certainly scrutinize over techniques and the execution, but the elite art direction and the creative decisions of this program is superb (comparatively to say D/W Notre Dame). I love it!
If only I found the dance as impassioned as your defence of it.
Carmen has become such a skating cliche (as you rightly pointed out).
At what point does the music hinder more than it helps?
I am just saying that Virtue and Moir could have explored these same themes more effectively with better music.