Dorothy Hamill is an example of a fuller-figured skater who had balletic grace.
I do think it's possible for Irina to do "her own" version of Swan Lake. Something like Dai's Cyberswan, for instance. But it'll be extremely difficult for her to do a traditional version of Swan Lake. I can't say for sure how good her best attempt would be, but I'll venture a guess that someone like Yuna can do a better Swan Lake with half the effort. So, I think it's fair to say that perhaps Swan Lake is not worth the effort for Irina, and it is a program more suited for Kwan/Kim/Caro/ect. I don't think it's wrong to recognize that. I dunno why y'all (in honour of Irina's 2002 EX) are jumping on Alba for.
Of course, there will be a few people who will prefer Irina's Swan Lake over Yuna's. So, to that degree, I can say it's "subjective." But for most of the population--whether it's innate or learned as some of you suggest--Irina's Swan Lake will not be as pleasing to the eye, and it's not because she didn't try hard enough.
Maybe Irina's a bad example, since she did try very hard and improved (as Alba recognized). What about Harding attempting one of Baiul's programs? Stojko attempting Urmanov's? (Btw, as a side note, I don't think Urmanov attempting Stojko's programs will work either--so it goes both ways.)
I dunno what Alba meant in her original post, but I suspect she was talking about a traditional Swan Lake. But we'll have to wait for her to get back to us on the topic.
LOL, I wouldn't mind Harding-on-campy-Baiul-esque-exhibition, but that's the thing: it must be played ironically. She (Harding) can't expect to do a serious, heartfelt version of Baiul's programs without it looking laughable (or people mistaking it for a campy exhibition even if she didn't intend it that way). Therefore, I have to conclude that body type does matter in terms of what programs you can do well.
Of course, movement and performance skills are even more important--Irina can do a better Swan Lake than a random person on the street who has the right body lines but absolutely no ballet training. But the random person isn't her competitor--that's someone like Kwan, who does have an edge in these areas.
Oh, I do agree it's not just body type. I think Irina and Harding (especially the latter) also, for instance, lacked Kwan's attention to detail, which would hinder their potential Swan Lakes every bit as much as their body type. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's completely impossible for someone with Irina's body type to do Swan Lake (tastes change, people have varying talents, ect. ect.) but it will be much harder. And, all else being equal (musicality, dancing ability, ect.), someone with Michelle's body type will do better than someone with Irina's. I'm not quite sure if I like the idea either, but it's probably true.
That's what I think too. Never say never though.LOL, I wouldn't mind Harding-on-campy-Baiul-esque-exhibition, but that's the thing: it must be played ironically. She (Harding) can't expect to do a serious, heartfelt version of Baiul's programs without it looking laughable (or people mistaking it for a campy exhibition even if she didn't intend it that way). Therefore, I have to conclude that body type does matter in terms of what programs you can do well. Of course, movement and performance skills are even more important--Irina can do a better Swan Lake than a random person on the street who has the right body lines but absolutely no ballet training. But the random person isn't her competitor--that's someone like Kwan, who does have an edge in these areas.
Tbh I don't know about Kwan doing a Baiul too. Michelle was more a lyrical skater rather than a classic/ballet style of skating IMO. Mao is the same too, and she did the Swan program which was not strictly ballet style. But yes, I was comparing top skaters with a very different styles and body types doing the same program. I think both Kwan and Mao would do a better classic Scwan because of the edge they had in these areas, as you said.
I repeat, the body is not all it takes to do that of course, and it's not about being thin either. I think it helps a lot though to have a certain body when doing these particular styles.
To put it simply, a stretched long leg will always look better than a stretched short leg. Long neck, long lean arms etc. will help you look better in certain positions therefore increasing your artistic side. These comparisions are done between top ballerinas too. Some are better, or let's say more suitable, for a role and others for another.
Obviously you may also have all these "tools" but you have no idea how to use them, how to move while dancing, or skating in this case. In many cases that comes with the maturity as well and with the development of the awareness of your body.
I have to say, by the way, that skaters who do try for "ballet on ice" take a risk. The audience might start comparing them, and not n a good way, to real dancers.
Michelle has said that as a very young skater the two skaters she was most in awe of were -- Oksana Baiul and Tonya Harding.
Pfft, Michelle needs to be brought up in every discussion. I thought that was established practice.
In all seriousness: we started talking about body lines, whether body type mattered. Compared Irina and Michelle because they were the top skaters of their era. Alba used Swan Lake as an example of something Irina would find difficult to skate to. While Michelle never skated to ballet music, I think it's fair to say she'd have an easier time of it than Irina.
Michelle definitely chose meatier music than Swan Lake, Nutcracker, ect. I've always felt like there was an edge to her--a will of steel underneath the sweet, "nice girl" exterior. She wasn't really a dainty, balletic dancer--some of the glares she gave from her starting position made me feel sorry for her competitors.
To be honest, despite believing body type does matter, I'm not personally a fan of really long necks and arms. Especially the latter. It's uncomfortable to watch, in both skaters and dancers. I much prefer watching, say, Oksana Baiul (who can make the lines but doesn't have an extremely exaggerated figure), than Polina Edmunds (Sorry, Polina fans--but she's young and can still change).
And actually Michelle did skate to several ballet pieces: Scheherazade, Miraculous Mandarin, Spartacus and The Red Poppy (featured in Dream of Desdemona)
I think Gracie is more athletic and now since it's not an Olympic season, she can maybe experiment with showing that side of her skating more. Plus, I think she and Frank had to come up with a plan and stick to it (for better or worse) due to the timing of her coaching change relative to the Olympics. I think having nearly a year of Frank's coaching under her belt will bode well for her chances on the GP, especially if she does a summer comp or 2 or even a senior B to work some issues out first. However, packaging her as an "Ice Princess" in an Olympic year might not have been a bad idea. It got her several TV appearances and the cover of sports illustrated, as well as a lot of positive exposure on the SOI tour (fans, especially kids, will remember her Frozen program). If she gets a spot at Skate America (which I believe she will), there may be extra interest generated which is always a good thing for skating
Now as far as "princess" goes, I think of Polina as more princessy. She naturally has a more delicate look and graceful movements than the other US girls. Her participation in ballet is evident and in my opinion a real asset for her. I realize she's young and will grow more, but I'd say her bone structure lends to a more princessy look than most.
Regardless, I hope Gracie and Polina push each other to raise the bar for the US ladies and also develop in their own ways/style.
Finally back on topic!!
One thing that became clear to me after seeing SOI is that Gold CAN perform if she's given the right vehicle to do so. She needs an outlet to showcase her speed and power, and I felt last season her team was trying to shoehorn her into the "princess" based on her looks and perhaps even for marketing (this would be on USFS and the direction it tries to nudge its skaters in)
I think she and Wagner are actually similar in many ways when you remove all the "packaging".