Skeptic Satirist Critic Muppet Fan
Hate to be elitist but there are very few programs caught my imagination this season so far... I found most programs are generally too lazy, too contrived, too superficial, too gimmicky, too little creativity, no risk taking, and paid too little respect or acknowledgement towards the source. It ends up about creating a stylized routine, superficially kit up to meet the COP maths and doing as little as possible outside these requirements. The extent of creative work is picking a 'suitable/complementary' kit (Music, costume), then little beyond that in choreography or interpretation. I blame this on the Morozov and the Carolina Kostner combination effect. In most cases, the skaters might as well skate to any other background music with similar beats and there'd be hardly any difference.
Figure skating is primarily a sport, with artistic merits. But when you take Mao's FS Swan lake program which seems well received, with a performance full of errors, and interpretation that has little to do with Tchaikovsky's Swan lake. Little choreography references in the first half to reference to the source, nor does it pay attention towards basics musicality during the later half of the step sequences (which I admit is well choreographed thanks to Tat), makes me wonder just what everyone else is watching. What makes this program more Swan lake apart from the outfit and the music blasted pleasantly in the background? How is this different to her Liebestraum or her other 'lovely' programs. They are all the same emotional tone, literally no difference when she is just skating as herself. When it neither pleases the art (authenticity, originality, creativity, honesty, perspective/objectivity, variation/evolution), nor does it pleases the sport (accuracy, speed according to rhythm/musicality, strength, power, consistency), then you wonder what is the point of it all. How can this still be a serious sport? How is this good progress?
Thank God then for Virtue and Moir's fantastic Carmen that left me simply breathless and hungry for more. I must have played that program more than a dozen times already and never got tired or bored by it. The passion, the sensuality, the risks taking, the originality, the bold statement of totally owning the performance and seamless integrate with the music as if the music is an extension of themselves rather than being a slave to the well known piece. I really look forward their next performance, it is a true master piece that this sport desperately needs.
Last edited by OS; 11-04-2012 at 09:42 PM.
I don't think 'playing yourself' is necessarily an easy thing to do. Many old hollywood stars were said of to have just played themselves in all of their screen roles. This was very different from the method actors that came later who immersed themselves in their characters. However, I don't think one style is better than the other. It's just a matter of preference. It takes a degree of willingness to open yourself to the audience to play yourself on the screen. Therefore, it requires some authenticity on the part of the performer. I think Mao's Swan Lake is not contrived because she lets her own personality shine through in her performance, instead of sticking strictly to the original Swan interpretation. Mao is the type of skater who works best when she is allowed to be herself and that's probably why many viewers responded favorably to this program. One can criticize her for not going out of her comfort zone but it isn't true to say she doesn't display honesty in her performances. On a last note, I enjoyed both Swan Lake and V/M's Carmen.
Last edited by miki88; 11-04-2012 at 10:48 PM.
I liked Mao's Swan FD for the ladies; both Chan's programs are masterpieces, actually I was disappointed in the Tak; I liked B and S FD and V and T's freeskate for pairs.
But to be honest none of the programs this year are best evers. I do think the difficulty in men's programs will make it hard for totally clean skates in the free programs.
Men: 1. Denis Ten LP, 2. Daisuke SP 3. Yuzuru SP
Ladies: 1. Mao LP 2. Akiko LP 3. Gao LP
This is so subjetive because I dont like too much dance but I love D/W and V/M and I dont like Carmen and Giselle, V/M looked almost ridiculous but maybe is because it was the first time I watched the program and what with the costume, what tried they to do?
Mao's Swan FS, Ashley's fs, Adelina's sp, Julia's programs, Liza's fp., Gracie's sp, Kiira's sp)
Volosozhar-Trankov FS, Stolbova/Klimov fs, S/S fp
Weaver-Poje FD ,D/W programs
Ladies: Mao's Lp, Akiko's Lp, Adelina's SP, Kiira's Sp
Men: Machida's SP, Daisuke's SP, Kozuka's LP, Yuzuru's SP
Pairs: Stolbova/Klimov both Sp and Fp and Aliona/Robins Sp
Dance: Anna/Luca SD(the best SD for me), Kaitlyn/Andrew FD and of course Tessa/Scott FD(great program but not skated to full potential yet)
Skeptic Satirist Critic Muppet Fan
They are taking it to the next level... very avant garde in approach consider this is figure skating under COP, and it is 'Carmen'. Loooove it! Respect!
Originally Posted by chapis
I agree with your first point if this is an exhibition or a play, but this is also a sport where musicality and artistry is suppose be an integral part of the competition where there are even categories in marking devoted to them. Where the theme and music need to be identified and interpreted with clarity and distinction, variance. Music and themes are not just eye and ear candy that act as background noises which the performer can do what ever they like do with it. Otherwise they might all just skate to the same music or wear the same clothes and doing the exact same routine.
Originally Posted by miki88
Unfortunately I think Mao is now doing what other people expect of her (which is not much other than being the same 'lovely' Mao that always seems well received), and I think it is a big mistake when people inside her circles stop advising her to do research into her material and make distinction of what she is trying to express with her choreography with meaning and purpose. To able to make the distinction of the notation in the music, different parts of the choreography, instead of just focus on the mechanics of a strong step sequence (which i think is her only strength right now) and big jump elements and manage to stand on her feet. Since the UR rule changes, she has the luxury of having her errors disguised and still rewarded under the UR rule change. Have anyone calculated what she would have scored before the 70% UR rule?
I hate the fact people give her far too little credit for capable of pushing the artistry aspect of her skating, so at some point she must have stop trying and that really limit her legacy as a top class skater fully capable of delivering fantastic multilayered memorable programs (Grandbell of Moscow 2010 WC I'd rate as one of the most stunning FS achievements in COP era) that last beyond this life time, and beyond her fan circle. (Which admittedly is probably somewhere between 50-70% of skating crowd that has her as one of the sentimental favourite, by nature of who she is, her potential, and what she went through in her long career.)
Her swan lake music edit, and the title of her FS indicate her program is suppose to do a mixture of White Swan (innocent and graceful - which Mao naturally do well), and black swan (darkly sensual, vengeful, wild, free spirited, moody, primal) in which the later music cut refers to. Tat's extraordinary step sequences obviously showcased the Black Swan including the music cuts in the background, but watching the program, can you honestly able to distinct which is which? You are making an argument that it doesn't really matter as long she is just being honest to herself, and that it is her 'style'. but sorry this sound like more like Idol worship talk than critical thinking. To me, this is clearly a swan with an identity crisis where here we have a happy and smiley black swan doing a happy dance, a cautious and emotionless white swan who just want to get her big jumps out of the way. Where's the important transcendence? Certainly the most important part of Swan lake. And actually, I have no problem with this if this is the intention of the team to challenge the perception of the material like Virtue/Moir's Carmen, but her performance was so murky, confusing and all over the place, I wonder if Mao think black + white = grey, so her Swan lake is full of grey swans. At least that would make more sense then the performances she has given, and her interpretation of this classic material which makes virtually no distinction to the story or the characteristics of theme at all.
Last edited by OS; 11-05-2012 at 03:48 PM.
Tripping on the Podium
I totally agree, I think Mao's Swan Lake is a true masterpiece, it has everything, and i love the fact that she didn't go for the typical kind of swan lake, but instead gave a more original interpretation of it, where her own personality really shines through. She wasn't acting like a swan, she just became a Swan! and this is what makes her Swan Lake so outstanding.
Originally Posted by miki88
One thing she is just exceptional at is making everything look so natural and smooth when she skates, she really draws one in, through her skating. She makes every elements look like part of the choreography, her way of blending everything together, is where she as an artist just shines through!
I would love to comment on short programs- but I have seen so few! I should be able to watch on-line at Universal Sports but the feed won't load and they have the worst tech support. Ever. Actually they have no tech support.
On the Ice
I primarily pay attention to the ladies - so far:
1. Makarova's SP (even though it was last year's program)
2. Marchei SP
3. Suzuki LP
Honorable mention: Joshi Helgesson SP (just because it's weird)
On the Ice
I haven't seen enough this season yet, but
Anna/Luca - FP
Lipniskaya - SP/LP
Denis Ten -SP/LP
Rejoicing in the land of Kwan
Wicked Yankee Girl
Skate Canada is now up on Icenetwork!
Jeremy Abbott SP
Javier Fernandez FS
Patrick Chan FS
Kanako Murakami FS
Kiira Korpi SP
Ksenia Makarova SP