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Thread: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Difficu

  1. #1

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    Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Difficu

    Is it more difficult to achieve GREATNESS in technique or artistry? What do you think as far as ladies figure skating is concerned? For technique, let's not talk about mastering the triple axel and the quad jumps here for practical reason. Let's just consider all the common elements we see in ladies skating-the triple jumps and combos, spins, footwork, ...etc.

    I'd think it's more difficult to be great in artistry (I'm not sure if Michelle has skewed my thinking). Here's my logic:

    1. To master the skating technique, a skater can practise and practise till she gets it right. She can practise for hours everyday. In competition, only her nerves and poor physical health can prevent her from pulling off a technically perfect skate. However, I strongly feel you can't say the same about artistry. It has to come from the soul within. A skater cannot practise to get the perfect emotions for her skating. She can't practise to interpret the music correctly because interpretation is subjective and it is different from one skater to another. Now, I'm not an artistic or creative person. I'm rather brute in nature :lol: (probably it explains why I'm not a fan of figure skating especially the men's skating). Anyway, I borrow this reasoning from my personal experience. I can sing reasonably well and I like karaoke. I realise when I practise a song over and over, technically, I can sing great in front of my friends. However, I find it extemely difficult to emote effectively no matter how much I practise. But when I'm down (it doesn't happen often) and I'm alone in my room with soft lighting, I surprisingly can sing sad songs from the heart. I wish I could do it in front of the girls to move them to tears in the karaoke room but I simply cannot pull it off. This is why I feel it's not easy for a skater to express her skating beautifully just from practice. It has to come from the heart which is not easy.

    2. Ok, this is debatable. For the past decades, how many Janet Lynns have emerged? Maybe Michelle Kwan and one or 2 other skaters. This goes to show how difficult it is to have skaters who can move millions.:lol: Logical?

  2. #2

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    Re: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Dif

    And just how many Midori Itos have emerged in the past decades?

    I think both technique and artistry come and go. Skaters often miss the jumps they have "mastered." Spins, steps and spirals are a bit more consistent. But I have seen good spinners travelling over the ice as well.

    I think "presentation" can be more consistent than both technique and artistry. For example, every Kwan performacne since 1995-96 has had great presentation. "Artistry" has been more uneven from program to program and from performance to performance.

  3. #3

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    Boy you have a lot of

    I think it's more harder to prefect your technique.. Before the jumps,spins,footwork and all the other things that make skating great, a skater has to have excellent basic skating and that alone takes some skaters years to achieve. There are some top skaters skating today whose basic skating is not really up the level where they should be. Then a skater has to master the jumps, which is very difficult. Take Sarah hughes for example, her skating technique is not all that great, the flutz and under-rotation of her jumps is evident of that. IMO, she didn't spend enough time learning the basics of skating.
    Then it's off to spins,footwork,speed and etc.

    Not take anything away from Michelle, she didn't emerge as an artist first, she just decided to spend more time on her artistic side. Take 95 season into consideration, kwan was jumping all over the place and she didn't make the 95 worlds podium becuase her skating wasn't mature or artistic enough to rival Lu/bobeck/Bonaly. 96 season that was all changed, kwan emerged as an artist.
    The point i'm trying to make is, aristry can be practiced and so can technique, but the technique is more difficult.

  4. #4

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    Re: Technique vs Artistry

    I believe artistry can be taught, but not everyone can learn it. However, the same can be said for skating technique. So I'd say they are equally difficult. Also, while many, many people are moved by Michelle's skating, many are not. Many find her performance quality "put on." I'm not trying to put down Michelle; am just citing reactions I know are out there. Just today I had an experience with someone I barely know who noticed that I was taping Nationals (the OD and pairs SP). She said, "Oh, is that the skating championships?" Of course I said yes and she said she had never been interested in skating until last year when she saw this one skater at the Olympics. "She was so incredible," she said. "I've never seen anyone skate like that." But she couldn't think of the skater's name and I was thinking, "She probably means Michelle." But finally she said, "It was the girl from Long Island," and I realized she meant Sarah Hughes.

    What I do think is very rare is for a skater to achieve the presentation, technical, and the artistic. While I'm not captured by Michelle's artistry, I certainly appreciate that she is consistently good in many areas. I don't find her to be "great" at any one thing, but she has maintained her ability to do a 6-7 triple program with good and sometimes excellent presentation for at least six years. So consistency in many areas and over time certainly makes Michelle unique, IMO. However, I would also say the same about Kristi Yamaguchi. Personally I find Kristi to be stronger than Michelle artistically, but her pro status starting in '92--pre Tonya-Nancy--made her visibility much lower. Michelle started her ascent in '94, just as the T/N scandal hit and thus was the US ladies champion and mutliple World champion at a time when skating was enjoying maximum popularity. Also, people got to see Michelle "grow up" on TV and I think this combined with Michelle's nice young lady/SoCal chick persona allowed fans to feel an especially intimate relationship with her. Again, this is not meant to take anything away from Michelle; I just mean to underscore the role that timing can play in the way a performer is perceived.

  5. #5

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    Re: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Dif

    I would have to say technique is always the "double edged sword" here. Without proper technique even great artistry can suffer. Figure skating is about learning the proper technique from the beginning. This is taught in the basics when a skater first learns how to skate. Just like any other discipline learning the proper technique of the elements is essential.

    Take a great skater like Kurt Browning. His artistry comes from within. Kurt is one of those rare skaters that just has "it." However, he still had to learn the basics and proper technique. Jeffery Buttle, is another skater who shows great musicality ability and artistry. He is working on his jumping skills. Both Kurt and Jeff skate with passion.

    Artistry also encompasses technique. So it's not completely "black and white." It takes some skaters years to develop their artistic side while others struggle with the technical side of skating.

    Figures were another "technical" side to skating and probably the best measuring rod and the most difficult discipline. It took a lot of patience and perseverence to master each figure.

    So to answer your question, I would say technique and artistry go "hand and hand" and each has it's difficulties.


  6. #6

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    Re: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Dif

    Funny I don't seperate the two areas. Just as in dance, usually the superior artist is the superior athelete that has managed to stay around long enought to learn something.

    I think most people believe Angela N is a terrific artistic skater. I would agree with you, and I would add that she was a terrific technical skater which allowed her to develop into a fine artistic skater.

    I find that much of MK's earlier successes came from the fact that she skated and jumped well and had a good "package" as Peggy always likes to say. ( I don't if she means the same thing when she talks about the men<img border=0 src="" />)

    However great you may think MK is as an artist, she got to be that way because she could lay down solid athletic performances.

    And oppositionally, if you can move well and can do footwork, but can't manage to get past your doubles, try ice dancing, we need all the good men and women candidates we can round up to get North American Ice Dance Recognized!

  7. #7

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    Re: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Dif

    For me there are two kinds of Art.... superficial and from the heart. Anyone can learn 18th century ballet arm movements and throw them into a routine. However, a few skaters do not need the choreographers to show them how. It is totally inate because it is coming from the heart.

    Given the above, combining a natural artistic routine together with the technical tricks is probably the ultimate in an artistic endeavour - not easy given that slilppery ice.


  8. #8

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    Re: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Dif

    Eligible skaters focus on tech, and presentation. Artistry is only secondary. Which is more difficult, it differs from skater to skater. Basic skating skills is the most fundamental of tech element of skating, and you will be surprise some senior level lady skaters have shallow edges, poor stroking efficiency, and scratchy edges.

    Artistry is most important to pro skaters, and appreciation of art is very subjective. I think all skaters are artistic, some skater’s artistry touches my heart, and others leave me totally cold.

    Sasha Cohen’s artistry reminds me of listening to electric violin music. You can fit the most expensive pre amplifiers, amplifiers, into the most expensive electric violin. You can get sound with perfect pitch, perfect tone; dial the volume to whatever decibel you want with an electric violin system. The electric violin and system may be award winning, and maybe millions of fans like it but its sound leaves me cold.

    Sarah’s artistry touches me, even though she has been criticized for being gawky, awkward with bad jumping technique (BTW, in terms of her basic skills, she skates circles around Cohen). Sarah’s artistry reminds me of a 1617 Amati. There may be some flaws, and part of the varnish may be missing, it may not be the “Gibson” Stradivarius

    OR “David” Guarineri del gesu

    This Amati has a wonderful honest sound, and it reaches me.

    Eligible skating is judged by tech and presentation, if Cohen completes her 7 triple jumps, I am sure she will win nationals, I perfectly understand. Whether I care for her artistry or not is not relevant.

    Back to topic, greatness in tech and presentation can be measured or judged by scoring systems. Greatness in artistry is measured in our hearts.


    Michelle Kwan's artistry touches me like the David's sound in the hands of Heifetz.

    PPS feel free to skip over this article about the Gibson
    Antonio Stradivarius: The Cremona Exhibition of 1987 by Charles Beare
    This violin, of flat, masculine build, an outstanding concert instrument, is famous for having been stolen from the Polish virtuoso violinist Bronislaw Huberman at Carnegie Hall, in New York, in 1936. Huberman had played a concert on his Guarneri, and on returning to his dressing room discovered that his treasured Stradivari had disappeared. No trace of it was found until spring of 1987, when it was offered to Lloyd's of London, the legal owners, by the widow of Julian Altman, a café violinist who claimed to have bought it for a modest sum the day after the theft.

    W. E. Hill and Sons purchased the violin in the nineteenth century from an old French family, subsequently selling it to Alfred Gibson, a prominent English violinist who also owned one of the Stradivari violas exhibited in Cremona. In 1911 it returned to Hills and was sold to Huberman, at which time Alfred Hill wrote that "the fine red varnish which covers it is in a pure state as applied by the maker". Three months before the opening of the exhibition the varnish was almost unrecognizably submerged beneath layers of dark grime and shellac, but after a minor restoration and a very careful clean-up at J and A Beare it duly took its place, its deep red colour once more revealed for all to admire.

    The violin's tone turned out to be absolutely outstanding, and in February 1988 it was sold by J and A Beare, acting on behalf of Lloyd's, to the well-known violinist Norbert Brainin, formerly of the Amadeus Quartet.

    Copyright Text (c) Charles Beare 1993

    Long-lost Stradivarius strikes a chord in heart of modern master


    By MARK WROLSTAD / The Dallas Morning News

    The mystique of the name Stradivarius has resonated beyond classical music for generations, finding a place in the popular imagination and even urban legend.

    You don't have to know a violin from a viola to know the stories - some apocryphal - about one of the exquisitely rare instruments turning up in an attic or junk shop.

    Now add another stanza to what may be the most contorted tale of all the world's prized violins - a masterwork lost for half a century, today in the hands of a new master.

    Joshua Bell, the young superstar violinist who played the solos for a movie about a violin's travels through the ages, took his role in the true-life version this month by paying nearly $4 million for the famed Gibson Stradivarius, which is nearly three centuries old.

    Dealers in Dallas who work for the leading restorer and seller of stringed instruments helped complete the sale.

    "I instantaneously fell in love with the instrument like I never have before with a violin," Mr. Bell, 33, said Friday from his home in New York. "This is like a dream come true."

    Mr. Bell, hailed for his lyric musicianship and varied musical interests that have made him an international crossover hit, bought a violin whose history is almost as dark as the grime that covered it when the instrument resurfaced after a deathbed confession in 1985.

    The Strad - a conversational abbreviation in concert and collector circles for violins made by Antonius Stradivarius - has been stolen twice, last disappearing from New York's Carnegie Hall in 1936.

    Even after a cafe musician, dying in jail, admitted he had the stolen violin all those years, an insurer's payment to get it back led to litigation between the thief's heirs.

    "It's a bit ironic that he's buying an instrument with so much intrigue surrounding it," said Michael Selman, general manager of J and A Beare Ltd. in Dallas, the company that sold the violin for well-known British violinist Norbert Brainin.

    "If the movie The Red Violin hadn't been made, this would have been the one to write a book about," Mr. Selman said of the 1999 film in which Mr. Bell played the music.

    Among the yarns of famous violins reappearing, Mr. Selman said, "This is the story, and it involves one of the very fine violins in the world."

    This one was constructed in 1713, during what's known as the Golden Period - when Stradivarius made instruments renowned for unequaled tone.

    The violin later became known as the Gibson Strad, taking its name from early owner Alfred Gibson, as is customary for valued instruments.

    Of the more than 1,100 violins made during Stradivarius' lifetime, about half are thought to still exist. (Through the centuries, manufacturers around the world usurped the famous name, producing hundreds of thousands of violins stamped "Stradivarius" - explaining all of those garage-sale discoveries.)

    Ninety years ago, the Gibson Strad was owned by Polish virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman, from whom it was stolen twice.

    In 1919, the violin was taken from his hotel room in Vienna but was quickly returned after the thief supposedly offered it to a dealer.

    The next time, Mr. Huberman didn't get it back.

    He was on stage at Carnegie Hall in 1936 when the violin was stolen from his dressing room.

    Eventually, he accepted a full settlement of about $30,000 from the insurer, Lloyd's of London.

    For the next 51 years, the violin was officially missing, though it apparently frequented cafes and clubs in the New York area with a violinist named Julian Altman.

    Its trail went undetected until 1987 when a 69-year-old widow with an evolving story contacted Lloyd's about the long-lost violin.

    Marcelle Hall said Mr. Altman had revealed his lifelong secret in 1985 while dying of stomach cancer: He bought the Gibson Strad for $100 the day after a friend stole it from Carnegie Hall.

    Mr. Altman died at age 70 shortly after he and Ms. Hall were married.

    Lloyd's agreed to pay Ms. Hall a finder's fee of $263,475 - one-quarter of its value.

    A half-century of filth was lifted from the Strad - "like taking dirt off the Sistine Chapel," Mr. Bell said - and in 1988, the insurer sold it to Mr. Brainin for $1.2 million.

    Nearly a decade later, Mr. Altman's daughter, Sherry Schoenwetter, gave up trying to get her share of Ms. Hall's payment. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that Ms. Hall should have included the money in her husband's estate.

    But Ms. Hall had spent the small fortune and had few assets left.

    The lengthy court fight did elicit from Ms. Hall a second detailed account of the stolen Strad.

    She testified that Mr. Altman confessed to stealing the violin in a plot concocted with his mother and that she found old newspaper stories about the theft in the violin case.

    Mr. Altman, who was known around Carnegie Hall, had ducked out of his job with a gypsy orchestra at the nearby Russian Bear cafe, Ms. Hall said. He diverted a security guard with a fine cigar, went to the dressing room and hid the violin under his coat, she said.

    A trial judge described the testimony as "more dramatic than the most contrived TV mystery show."

    Chris Donohue, Ms. Schoenwetter's attorney, said Ms. Hall's story was "probably true," but his client was never paid. "Not one red cent."

    About the time the litigation ended, Mr. Bell appeared at a concert with Mr. Brainin and had his first encounter with the violin that one day would be his.

    "He let me play a few notes, and I thought it was the most amazing-sounding violin I'd ever heard," Mr. Bell said.

    He recalled the owner's joking response: "Maybe someday you'll have this violin. Well, if you can come up with $4 million."

    Five years later, they met again - Mr. Bell and the Gibson Strad, that is.

    In August, he stopped at Beare's London office and found that it was about to be sold to a German industrialist.

    "It made me nauseous, the thought of that," he said.

    He put the violin to his chin again and played. "I was practically in tears, and I said, 'You cannot take this violin.' "

    Mr. Bell talked with Mr. Brainin. Negotiations took just two days.

    "Which is very unusual," Mr. Bell said. "You usually spend months trying to make sure it's the right violin.

    "I could only go so far with price, and I think he liked the fact that I'd be playing his violin."

    Mr. Bell had to sell an old friend, his 1732 Strad, the one he played for the Oscar-winning score of The Red Violin.

    The escalating market for Strads quickly brought him more than $2 million from a collector who will lend the violin to a young performer.

    The Gibson Strad, it so happens, has a "glorious varnish" that's "extremely red."

    "It's ironic for me that I'm ending up with the red violin," Mr. Bell said.

    It will be with him from now on, his performance violin on stage and in the studio, he said, making the promise of countless love affairs.


    Reprinted with permission of The Dallas Morning News.

  9. #9

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    Re: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Dif

    Excidra said, "Not take anything away from Michelle, she didn't emerge as an artist first, she just decided to spend more time on her artistic side. Take 95 season into consideration, kwan was jumping all over the place and she didn't make the 95 worlds podium becuase her skating wasn't mature or artistic enough to rival Lu/bobeck/Bonaly. 96 season that was all changed, kwan emerged as an artist.
    The point i'm trying to make is, aristry can be practiced and so can technique, but the technique is more difficult"

    IMHO opinion, Michelle already had the artistic talents before she became a jumping bean. If she didn't I strongly believe she wouldn't have become the artist that she is today no matter how vigorously and diligently she had practised during the transformation period 1995-96. Probably she would be very good but not great as she is.

    I know rgirl would probably rebut that Michelle's artistry is great to some but mediocre to others. While I agree with her, I can argue the same of Janet Lynn's. But why is she a legend despite the World and Oly golds missing in her cabinet so conspicuously? Also, probably there were many who equally weren't moved by Janet. My point here is if the peers, judges and experts think a skater is great artistically, then she is. It doesn't matter if some would disagree otherwise we can all argue for all eternity what constitutes great artistry. That's why we see a few Janet Lynn's in the history of skating (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not knowledgeable in skating) because they don't just proclaim a great artist so easily.

  10. #10

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    Re: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Dif

    Actually, Dick said it himself during the Nationals broadcast. You can't have great artistry without great technique. The basic techniques are the foundation and building blocks. For me, the artistry comes from within - it's why some seem to standout before others.

    The 1st time MK appeared at Nationals, she stood out and not just because she was a little jumping bean. She showed her joy and heart. At Sasha's 1st senior nationals, she also showed great potential, determination and flair.

    Some hit you with sudden impact - others sneak up on you. Regardless, there's never been a great artistic skater that hasn't had better than average skating skills. There are great techinicians who are not artists.

  11. #11

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    Re: Greatness in Technique & Artistry, Which is More Dif

    I just remembered what the Prima Ballerina Asoluta, Alexandra Danilova spoke of at ballet talk:

    The student must work, work, work on their technique, and when you get in front of an audience, forget the technique and dance!! She was a fabulous dancer and a wonderful person.

    She did not mean technical spins and jumps but the technique of spinning and jumping as in the precise definition of the tricks. In other words - a clean cut double axel is worth much more in front of an audience than a forced out triple.

    Technique and performance are like love and marriage.


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