(I apologize in advance if I come across as overzealous in using adjectives and verbs and then just sounding nonsensical. I had the idea of writing this post for a while now, but never actually put it into motion.)
Much has been said over the years of skaters' pushing both technical and artistic boundaries, one such case being Torvill & Dean with their unforgettable Bolero program. While newer skating fans like me might scratch their heads and be puzzled as to why people still use that program as a standard of perfection, it's easy to see why if one looks at other programs of the same period.
These days, there are two ice-dancing couples that are compared to T/D from time to time, those being Virtue & Moir and Davis & White. While I don't usually watch ice dancing, I've noticed lately that when speaking of these two pairs, fans always make the case that V/M push the envelope more than D/W do, an example being V/M's "Carmen" FD. This is a program that has been successful in making people actually (strongly) care about it, with opinions from two distinct sides. One side says that it is a glittering artistic gem as they have invigorated a tired ol' piece of music, while the other insistently dismisses it as a shock-value program in an attempt for V/M to shed their "puppy love" image.
But what about Davis & White's "Indian/Bollywood Medley"; did that program not push artistic boundaries as well? If V/M's "Carmen" did not exist, would the pair still be considered pushing artistic boundaries with their sweet love stories (Symphony No. 5) and implied kisses on ice (As the Waltz Goes On)?
And then there are the veterans of the Japanese national team, Daisuke Takahashi and Akiko Suzuki. Daisuke has been touted as an artistic genius, and many of his programs have been considered as masterpieces (e.g. "La Strada", "Blues for Klook", and "Garden of Souls"). The audience seems to get the feeling that while he is counting points, that aspect is merely secondary to the fact that he is putting the audiences first. His programs, if given to a lesser artistic skater, would still have been gems, but the way he performs with both subtle nuances and with his whole body takes them to a whole 'nother level. But while he is a truly gifted artist, is he pushing artistic boundaries too?
Lacking transitions in a program does not mean that the choreography of a program suffers, like in Akiko Suzuki's "O". That program, even with its "lack of transitions" exudes a strong feeling of flight that no other skaters have done for me since one particular skater left the sport behind. Does this masterpiece push artistic boundaries or it is just a brief flicker of light among various bird-themed programs?
Of course, there is also Yuna; her programs always bring such passion out in skating fans. While "Kiss of the Vampire" wasn't spectacular compared to some of her previous programs, it was a program skated to a piece of music that was never really used before in ladies' figure skating. Her renditions of "Scheherazade" and "Piano Concerto in F" were regarded as two of the greatest long programs in the history of the sport and were performed in such classy ways. On the other hand, I've heard fans say that she pushed artistic boundaries simply by wearing her hair in cornrows, as in her "Bulletproof" exhibition.
And what about Carolina Kostner? Her Bolero program had been earning raves all throughout the season because of the way she would perform it. The Italian diva did it in a passionate way with such careless abandon that no other skaters or teams have performed to that music in the years after T/D--like a woman among girls.
Anyway, the whole point of this long-winded post was to ask: which of the skaters today are pushing the envelope artistically? What constitutes as "pushing artistic boundaries"? Do such programs have to be considered as "masterpieces" or can they just be lukewarm programs with fans acknowledging that there is something there that hasn't been previously seen?