2020-21 U.S. Men's Figure Skating

el henry

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RE Jason's costume for his FP this year - it is a perfect homage to Gene Kelly in the movie.

Yes, I had no idea until I saw someone retweet a still from the movie: right down to the shade of purple. And of course Gene Kelly and tight t-shirts ;)

I'm usually not a fan of "off the street" looks for costumes, but this has a reason.
 

Blades of Passion

Skating is Art, if you let it be
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In regard to your dislike of Jason's programs since he began training at the Cricket Club, I'm not sure I understand what you mean exactly, especially since Rohene has been responsible for all of the short programs, which have been enjoyable and successful. Aside from the initial Old Friends fp, Wilson's work on Jason's Schindler's List fp and this season's Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, has been admirable, IMO.

Rohene is still doing his SP's, but he's not in the rink with Jason every day anymore, and Cricket Club has the say on what to do in the end. The immediate decision to chop Jason's hair off is quite indicative of their safely mainstream approach when it comes to artistic boundaries. Some notably poor decisions have been made over there, Wilson shoving his horrific Romeo&Juliet on Hanyu in the 2014 Olympic season, refusing to let the immensely better 2012 program be used. Hanyu ended up being able to get results, because of his technical ability and Patrick Chan's inconsistency and similarly bland LP, but his Olympic/World titles that year are painful to watch, when they could have been mesmerizing (even with a fall).

Old Friends was indeed a waste of time. Schindler's List was fine, not something I would call inspired on Wilson's part, it paled in comparison to Rohene's "The Piano" program, but it did at least let Jason try to aim high. Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is totally forgettable and this music choice and choreography continues to reinforce to me that a lot of their stylistic choices are stuck in the 80's. It's also a cursed music choice, nobody has ever won a major competition with it, and the last time I can remember it used, Rachael Flatt hilariously kept getting 2nd in her 2010-2011 season with it.

Back to Jason/Rohene though, I don't think their SP's have been big successes anyway, aside from "Question of U". So often they went for obviously peppier music and it never totally sang for me, always felt a little too cartoonish (nor was "Writing's on the Wall" able to fully express that song). It's the LP's where I think they've shined. Sinnerman has potential though, it's gotten quite a bite of hype because of the transitional content and song choice, I'm just not sure if they will actually try to make it a bit harsher and angrier.
 

el henry

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.... The immediate decision to chop Jason's hair off is quite indicative of their safely mainstream approach when it comes to artistic boundaries. ....



I don't know the purpose for making general statements about Jason when it is clear that you have not taken the time to educate yourself.

Now, there is no reason for you to know about Jason and his choices, certainly not as much as those of us who read all his interviews, but this is so far from what happened that it truly throws doubt on any other conclusion you might draw. ;)
 

Blades of Passion

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there is no reason for you to know about Jason and his choices, certainly not as much as those of us who read all his interviews, but this is so far from what happened
It's what Orser wanted. Ofc they might present it as being all Jason's idea, how he saw it as a fresh start, how a new look would help, blah blah, maybe even he truthfully was totally happy about it, but ultimately Orser wanted it anyway. You will not find the truth about such things in a typical interview either.

Either way, it's completely in keeping with the stylistic choices coming out of Cricket Club. We've seen some great programs from there, and they can teach great basic skating, but definitely show a certain lack of range in the types of programs being produced, and have their misses. The styles they are comfortable with are significantly different than the flavor Rohene brings to the ice, and so far, much less inspired to me. Aside from the differences in personality and regional upbringing, a lot of what informs Rohene's skating is ISI influences, where artistry and edginess and unusual moves are highly valued. It's a different thing than the more straight-laced style we see from Orser.
 

Ross74

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It's what Orser wanted. Ofc they might present it as being all Jason's idea, how he saw it as a fresh start, how a new look would help, blah blah, maybe even he truthfully was totally happy about it, but ultimately Orser wanted it anyway. You will not find the truth about such things in a typical interview either.

Either way, it's completely in keeping with the stylistic choices coming out of Cricket Club. We've seen some great programs from there, and they can teach great basic skating, but definitely show a certain lack of range in the types of programs being produced, and have their misses. The styles they are comfortable with are significantly different than the flavor Rohene brings to the ice, and so far, much less inspired to me. Aside from the differences in personality and regional upbringing, a lot of what informs Rohene's skating is ISI influences, where artistry and edginess and unusual moves are highly valued. It's a different thing than the more straight-laced style we see from Orser.
Jason said in at least a couple of interviews well before 2018 that he would likely get rid of the ponytail after the 2018 OG. He may have been encouraged to go through with it while at TCC but it's not like it was a new idea. He also got it cut right before attending Grant Hochstein's wedding where he was Best Man. That could have been the impetus to do it at that time.
 

Ophelia

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Some notably poor decisions have been made over there, Wilson shoving his horrific Romeo&Juliet on Hanyu in the 2014 Olympic season, refusing to let the immensely better 2012 program be used. Hanyu ended up being able to get results, because of his technical ability and Patrick Chan's inconsistency and similarly bland LP, but his Olympic/World titles that year are painful to watch, when they could have been mesmerizing (even with a fall).
Hanyu was the one who emailed Wilson and begged that he let him use the R&J for the Olympics. Wilson had gone on record saying that.
 

Skatesocs

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Rohene Ward does not believe that Jason made Nina Simone "white". I loved this article with many quotes from Rohene and Jason, in particular about Sinnerman:


Rohene has been doing choreo for Jason for a long time, it's true, but he also tells it like it is. If he did not think Jason could have done justice to his (Rohene's) heritage, he would not have given him the choreo. (and at the SP presser, Jason specified further that Rohene was drawing on Alvin Ailey, so even more Black heritage).
:laugh:

Dear el henry. Did you at least look at the link I'd provided specifically for you in this thread? https://www.goldenskate.com/forum/t...e-should-know-about.86488/page-3#post-2639675

All the way back in September, without Jason Brown's interview, it was patently obvious just from the movement included in the program for me that it was inspired by Alvin Ailey. I wouldn't even need to listen to the music, to know that it was Ailey's Revelations. I thought you'd enjoy watching the video. If you look at the end of the video, you'll notice three dancers and one with a certain skin colour right in the middle of the dance. Which one is that?

If you and Rohene Ward and Jason Brown sincerely believe that Brown has managed to capture Nina Simone's soul in his performance, then all of you are certainly entitled to your opinion. But I didn't. All I meant was that I didn't find Brown's performances close to the quality of Nina Simone's Sinnerman. Not "Rohene Ward gave it to a white man, why did he do that?! " Or "Rohene Ward doesn't know anything about his own heritage with this program he's made and choosing Brown to do it".

I will trust Rohene to let me know which skaters he believes can bring his heritage and background to the ice. :)
I guess, turning your interpretation of my words back at you (although to forestall such assumptions in the future, I have never cared about who "should" portray someone's heritage, I give bubkes to that), to you it doesn't matter to take a variety of opinions on who should or shouldn't be expressing certain types of music and who succeeded at it? :scratch2: I didn't know there was only one African-American in existence, nor did I think Ward was some sort of immovable authority on the techniques taught at Alvin Ailey or African-American musicology, nor that his opinion about somebody was the mass, wholesale opinion of a multifaceted American sub-culture. No one else's opinions to "trust" about such a thing? Well, that's mighty white of you! :D I like individualism of opinions a lot though ;), so I personally would hate to generalize, much like, of course, "North American culture" isn't a general thing as we once pleasantly discussed.

It's a skating forum after all. You told me twice that all opinions are welcome and interesting, and I sure hope my opinions aren't the only ones that don't matter on this forum, given the frequency with which you are compelled to tell me they don't when your favorites are concerned :) So, "trust" me or not, I'm going to post about skating anyway, and Brown is a skater :biggrin: Lots of opinions in the WORLD ;)

If we are going so far as to cite Ailey himself (which I wouldn't since neither Ward nor Brown is a dancer, both would categorically fail to do a single thing those dancers did), though, watching that video - and multiple other Alvin Ailey performances - there is little of the soul I associate with the quality and depth of African-American artistry. None of Ward's words you have quoted suggest otherwise to me either, nor do I see a recent criticism of Brown's performance in them (which is after all what I was making, and not "Brown can never do Sinnerman"). We can move on to these parts now:

Any issues with the Sinnerman choreo should be taken up with Alvin Ailey, whose dance movements were the inspiration for the Sinnerman SP.
If, again, you watch the video, you'll see the movement was conceived for... a trio. And for a different vocal recording. Certainly enough of a difference for Rohene and Jason to change the movement? Not that a few of the arm positions and body positions are enough to say it's a reproduction of Sinnerman, more than the Daniil Gleikhengauz placing a few attitude spirals in Zagitova's Don Quixote is enough to call it a reproduction of Petipa on ice, of course. Are the Alvin Ailey dancers doing sit spins and camel spins and change foot combination spins or triple axels (the semblance of the one Brown has, anyway) in their piece? Well, consider me uneducated about Ailey's Sinnerman then!

I certainly trust Rohene and Alvin to interpret this powerful piece of Black music, part of their heritage, more than anyone.
But why Alvin? I didn't know he was involved with the reproduction of his Sinnerman on ice. Did you know that Alvin Ailey used to choose his own dancers for his choreography? He picked the trio for Sinnerman. Did he pick Jason for this? I wasn't aware of his artistic choices being directly involved here :scratch2: Surely he'd have given Brown more direction than what was presented? I take real issue with him if he praised Jason after he tripped in the step sequence! And I hope Rohene calls him out too (I assume you mean publicly? Otherwise I don't expect to see him calling Brown's performance "white" or undercooked... ever).

(Also, he's no more, dear).

But of course... you are entitled to believe this too :biggrin: Much like you are entitled to believe that ballet predates martial arts. :) It's your favorite skater, after all.

Anyway. I am very happy that Ward tried to bring Sinnerman to the ice, and I'm happy he thinks Brown can do it - hopefully, he eventually really can. Brown is apparently keeping it for Beijing. I hope he can at least appear less "Rohene Ward's student Jason Brown" than he has done so far in the performance (Go to YouTube and have a look at Ward's Adagio for Strings, and how much better he is able to express soul in his skating. That kind of skating is indeed "him" more than "Jason Brown", and I would indeed say it's probably a lot more personal to Ward than it is for Brown , and I think I can have an opinion there, even if it flies in the face of your constructed reality - it is after all his heritage as you repeatedly say, but not Brown's. And I would certainly wager I am correct there, not you. Trusting someone with a good vehicle is not the same as them understanding it or performing it well, nor is Ward some authority to believe he would always make a correct decision - not that authorities are immovable in the first place. Even Kurt Browning could work, as someone suggested elsewhere).


For people who do genuinely care about African-American artistry instead of what Brown or Ward did on the ice or "educating" those of us who are woefully uneducated through their interviews... I leave the Ailey YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/AileyOrganization

And a collection of Ailey performances: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCsv5QlFo2Q

Maybe then, we can have more discussion, instead of trying to dunk on somebody who didn't like a performance :) I would be very happy to see more of a standard than what we have seen thus far for different, non-white cultures, in a very, very white sport, instead of seeing push-back when someone so much as raises a finger against the quality being presented, since I would hate for skating to think this is the extent of possibilities elsewhere, or that all these different styles aren't equally good if not downright better. You do pretty much reveal you don't know about Ailey performances to make a judgment of your own, and I expect that's most of the American demographic, and certainly it is around the world.

As someone who has unfortunately read interviews of my favorite skaters who still say they aren't appreciated for their cultures in skating, of course, it would be great to see more of a representation of those emotions in skating, so we can finally move past simply "trusting" somebody else to "let us know" what works. For that reason, I hope Rohene Ward, at least, decides to hold Brown to a higher standard, which I do not believe should be any less than those of others in the sport, just because he choreographed Sinnerman, instead of Don Quixote for a Russian, which we do not need to "trust" anybody to "let us know" was bad. For me, anyway, as a fan of evidence and logic, as much as you say you are.



Though I must say, my favorite Ailey recent performance was Saa Magni. They were uploading videos in the summer of 2020, but they stopped, and they took that mesmeric piece down too. Only a truncated version (with two different dancers) remains. If someone has the full version (with any selection of dancers) please let me know.

I THOUGHT I recognized some Horton technique in there. :)
I wouldn't go so far as to call it the Horton technique - a mere imitation, since Brown isn't a dancer (the modern dance philosophy of "everyone's a dancer" notwithstanding anyway).
 

Blades of Passion

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Hanyu was the one who emailed Wilson and begged that he let him use the R&J for the Olympics. Wilson had gone on record saying that.

Hanyu wanted to use the 2012 version though (an amazing program, that could have been even better). Wilson has also talked about how he wouldn't allow it, because he didn't choreograph it, so he instead came up with a whole different Romeo&Juliet that could be only his own choreography.
 

lurkz2

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If you and Rohene Ward and Jason Brown sincerely believe that Brown has managed to capture Nina Simone's soul in his performance, then all of you are certainly entitled to your opinion. But I didn't. All I meant was that I didn't find Brown's performances close to the quality of Nina Simone's Sinnerman. Not "Rohene Ward gave it to a white man, why did he do that?! " Or "Rohene Ward doesn't know anything about his own heritage with this program he's made and choosing Brown to do it".

This. While I think Jason gave a wonderful skating performance, I didn't see any African-American flava. Jason is rightfully praised for his skating skills but I don't see him as versatile, all his programs end up getting the Jason Brown flavor. Not to say these are not wonderful programs, but I wouldn't get the essence of Nina Simone and Alvin Ailey simply by looking at the way he skated his program.
 

Skatesocs

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I wouldn't get the essence of Nina Simone and Alvin Ailey simply by looking at the way he skated his program.
It is incredibly difficult to translate something as outstanding as a seminal Ailey piece to the ice. The arm positions and some of the obviously referential transitions give it away in terms of inspiration - but I would hope they do more than this to translate Nina Simone's Sinner Man to the ice, which is what matters. Otherwise, it's just a poor knock-off. No one really watches Disney on Ice either.
 

el henry

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This. While I think Jason gave a wonderful skating performance, I didn't see any African-American flava. Jason is rightfully praised for his skating skills but I don't see him as versatile, all his programs end up getting the Jason Brown flavor. Not to say these are not wonderful programs, but I wouldn't get the essence of Nina Simone and Alvin Ailey simply by looking at the way he skated his program.

Different strokes for different folks.

Rohene sees Jason implementing different flavors for each of his programs, including the necessary flavor for Sinnerman. I felt the essence of Alvin Ailey and Nina Simone from Jason, so I guess I agree with Rohene. :)
 

Dawn825

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I think he's improved quite a lot with the "second mark" and his newly unveiled 4Z (Rippon)/3T was jaw-dropping.

He's been the #2 US Man fairly consistently for a few years. A hiccup here, a hiccup there... but he seems to be a hard worker and very determined. Even with a sloppy Free Skate, he still had a 15 point margin to maintain the silver medal at US Nats. Tidy a jump or two, and he's back in the hunt for a World medal.
I thought most people opined that Vincent seemed much improved. His artistic presentation in the short and his jump consistency in general. Whether people WANT him to improve is another story. Not sure I'd agree that he's been the consistent #2, because he's been so inconsistent in general.
 

el henry

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whole post

I did not see this earlier; I simply am not in a position to respond to all of it. But I think it would probably just be back and forth.

I do not see Jason's performance as "white". From everything I have seen Rohene say, nor does he. Rohene holds Jason to very high standards, as though of us who remember a clip of their coaching from a few years ago can attest. I use that to support my observation.

If someone has different observations, they have different observations:scratch2: but I'll continue to use the best argument, I believe, for my observations, which I believe is that this is Rohene's vision. Will they work on it and improve on it? I understand that's the plan from the interviews, and I look forward to it.

Now, as I feel I've said everything I can say, that will be it for me :)
 

TontoK

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I thought most people opined that Vincent seemed much improved. His artistic presentation in the short and his jump consistency in general. Whether people WANT him to improve is another story. Not sure I'd agree that he's been the consistent #2, because he's been so inconsistent in general.

I'm not sure I can agree with your comment about whether some people want him to improve or not. But I also don't think you're crazy for thinking that.

I agree that he's not the second coming of John Curry, but he's definitely not the artless, talentless scrub some like to pretend. Other than Nathan's two WC, Vincent's 2019 bronze was the first medal for a US man since Evan in 2009. There had not been two American men on a World's podium prior to this since Todd and Rudy in 1996. This is a skater to be celebrated, not scorned.

I caveated my statement that he's been a fairly consistent #2 with "a hiccup here, a hiccup there."

Still, if it's not him, then it's someone else. So, other than Nathan, which US man has beaten Vincent consistently in the past few years? Who has a greater claim to "US Man #2" than Vincent, and can back that up that claim with multiple placement "wins" in recent head-to-head competition?
 

BlissfulSynergy

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This is what I was thinking before Sinnerman happened. (I don't like Orser camp's programs in general though.)

But after watching it at Nationals, I do think this SP is good - but I will absolutely say that he made Nina Simone white and doesn't really end up getting it. I said it to a friend after ISP, but let it go on the forum because it was the first time he did it. It seems more like I want to watch Rohene do it, instead of it being crafted for Jason specifically?

LP is just kind of there, for me.
Whaaat? I can't believe what I'm reading from you and from @Blades of Passion. I don't wish to be unfair in my response, but the comments coming out of you both are so strange. BoP's reference to 'botox' and this overarching dislike of 'Orser's camp,' I find curious at best, and frankly biased at worst, for whatever reason. The other part of this is that there are a variety of different athletes who train at the Cricket Club who have different styles as well as different programs choreographed by different choreographers. What exactly is there not to like??? Cricket Club athletes are NOT all the same.

And btw, neither are different groups of people who are designated and divided by false labels 'all the same,' (i.e., black & white are false manmade terms intended to divide people, but sadly we are currently stuck with these emotionally loaded labels). The human race is not made up of different races. We are all simply people with different ethnic or tribal backgrounds and with ancient connections since all of humankind originated on the African continent and migrated to various parts of the world, where their physical characteristics underwent changes over time due to variant geographic environments and weather conditions.

Within various cultural groups, within families, and within each of our individual psyches, there are rich personality, psychological, emotional and experiential differences. None of us are exactly the same in our thinking nor in our personal experiences. But what allows us to join together in understanding and identification with each other is our shared humanity. Pure and simple, bottom line.

Who better than Jason to be Rohene Ward's muse, especially in a competitive context? Rohene himself is no longer skating competitively. He could craft choreo for himself to Simone's Sinnerman. However, the fact is that the work he's created for Jason has the best chance to be seen by worldwide audiences. It's a good thing that they are reportedly planning to keep Sinnerman for the Olympic season. There aren't many elite competitive figure skaters of color, especially since the retirements of Asher Hill and Elladj Balde (both of Canada).

IMHO, Rohene and Jason have proven to be a perfect match in the beautiful way they have grown in their personal and professional lives. This reality is exemplified in the work they have created together. In addition, Jason's cultural and religious background surely makes him attuned to the experience of trauma caused by prejudice and the horrific violence of genocide. Moreover, his kind and caring empathy combined with his amazing talent surely allow him to tap into an understanding of what Nina Simone, Rohene Ward, and indeed Alvin Ailey express about the human experience through their art.

There appears to be a tendency (perhaps often unconscious) to relegate all 'black' people to the ghetto or to the plantation. No group of people are a monolith, nor should they be perceived as one specific thing that can't change or experience tragedies differently or express their creativity differently. Thus stating that either Rohene or Jason can make or have 'made Nina Simone white,' is a ridiculous assertion that makes no sense. :rolleye:

If you are trying to say that you don't like how the choreography has interpreted what you perceive in Nina Simone's superbly crafted version of Sinnerman, that is an entirely different thing than claiming Simone has been 'made white.' At its essence (departing from the faux manmade construction of 'race,') what exactly is 'white' in the first place? What do you mean when you use the word, 'white'? Are you referencing the false notions that have been passed down to us that somehow 'white' is superior to, better than, or vastly different from 'black'? Or that it's impossible for humans to have compassion and understanding for each other's cultural differences and personal experiences?

Jason skating to Sinnerman is NOT cultural appropriation, if that's what you're trying to say. There's also nothing wrong with Jason's and Rohene's interpretation of Sinnerman. It's reasonable and in fact important for different artists to craft different interpretations of our human experiences. As well, Nina Simone's virtuoso rendition of Sinnerman is uniquely different from the version used in Ailey's Revelations. It's Jason's empathy and humanity, combined with his rare athletic and performance skills, that allow him to touch audiences everywhere regardless of individual religious affiliation or ethnic background.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

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Rohene is still doing his SP's, but he's not in the rink with Jason every day anymore, and Cricket Club has the say on what to do in the end. The immediate decision to chop Jason's hair off is quite indicative of their safely mainstream approach when it comes to artistic boundaries. Some notably poor decisions have been made over there, Wilson shoving his horrific Romeo&Juliet on Hanyu in the 2014 Olympic season, refusing to let the immensely better 2012 program be used. Hanyu ended up being able to get results, because of his technical ability and Patrick Chan's inconsistency and similarly bland LP, but his Olympic/World titles that year are painful to watch, when they could have been mesmerizing (even with a fall).

Old Friends was indeed a waste of time. Schindler's List was fine, not something I would call inspired on Wilson's part, it paled in comparison to Rohene's "The Piano" program, but it did at least let Jason try to aim high. Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is totally forgettable and this music choice and choreography continues to reinforce to me that a lot of their stylistic choices are stuck in the 80's. It's also a cursed music choice, nobody has ever won a major competition with it, and the last time I can remember it used, Rachael Flatt hilariously kept getting 2nd in her 2010-2011 season with it.

Back to Jason/Rohene though, I don't think their SP's have been big successes anyway, aside from "Question of U". So often they went for obviously peppier music and it never totally sang for me, always felt a little too cartoonish (nor was "Writing's on the Wall" able to fully express that song). It's the LP's where I think they've shined. Sinnerman has potential though, it's gotten quite a bite of hype because of the transitional content and song choice, I'm just not sure if they will actually try to make it a bit harsher and angrier.
Ah, so the more you speak about your views of the Cricket Club, your dislike becomes more specific and clear, which is a good thing. Apparently, you are not enamored of Wilson's choreo in general, and you specifically frown on some of Hanyu's programs, etc.

Oh well, I guess you don't like what you perceive as '1980s skating style,' or influences. LOL! I completely disagree with what seems like bitter, non-constructive complaints and jibes by you toward Orser, his athletes and the Cricket Club generally. And wow, good grief. Why do you think that Sinnerman has to be 'harsher and angrier'? :confused:

I do not see what difference it makes that Rohene is not 'working' in the same rink with Jason every day. They are not tied at the hip in the first place. I love all of Rohene's work for Jason, regardless of individual fan critiques and preferences. I see distinct colors, nuances, genius, imperfections, and a range of creative expression in all of the work they have done together.

I think some fans endlessly carping on the sidelines perhaps might benefit by understanding the creative process, which is not about 'being perfect.' It is certainly not about trying to please 'all of the people all of the time,' which is an impossibility. It's best as a creative artist to go with the flow and to please oneself in every moment of the imaginative journey. Art as well as athleticism are both part of a process of being and evolving, and of trying. It is not about the destination nor the end product/ intermittent results. This is because the act of creating and the creative process itself are never-ending.

Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.
-- Kurt Vonnegut

Art enables us to find ourselves and to lose ourselves at the same time. -- Thomas Merton

Creativity takes courage. -- Henri Matisse

The artist's task is to save the soul of mankind. -- Terence McKenna

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. -- Pablo Picasso

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. -- Edgar Degas

In other words, trying to pin down the creative process and expecting perfection from athletic/aesthetic performances is a foolish and misguided expectation. Much less should fans suppose that performances will or should reflect your own individual desires, biases, and perceptions.
 
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