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

lurkz2

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Our reviews will always be based on our individual perceptions and mine was not based on Jason's whiteness. It's just the smoothness and fluidity which characterize Jason's skating which for me is the antithesis of the Sinnerman of Alvin Ailey and Nina Simone. I felt like he didn't quite capture the throbbing vitality of the piece, though I quite enjoyed it.
 

BlissfulSynergy

Final Flight
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Sep 1, 2020
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Mars
Any issues with the Sinnerman choreo should be taken up with Alvin Ailey
;) Any issues that any of us have are of course moot. But if someone were to be so bold as to want to take up issues with the classic, iconic masterpiece, Revelations (which features the Sinnerman variation), then such issues would have to be voiced with either Ailey's estate or with his company's current artistic director. :LOL:

Sadly, but inevitably, Ailey passed away many years ago. All of the masterful modern dance choreographers are mostly gone now, including the prolific and legendary Paul Taylor who left us in August 2018. I was utterly heartbroken when I learned of his loss. Merce Cunningham passed away in 2009. Pina Bausch, a protege of Paul Taylor, also departed in 2009. Alvin Ailey has been deceased since 1989. Martha Graham (a mentor of Paul Taylor's) took final flight from this earthly realm, most likely with flair and dramatic resonance, in 1991.

Of course, the great ballet choreographer, George Balanchine died too soon, at the age of 79, in 1983. And the inimitable Jerome Robbins departed 15 years later, in 1998, also at the age of 79.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

Final Flight
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Mars
Our reviews will always be based on our individual perceptions and mine was not based on Jason's whiteness. It's just the smoothness and fluidity which characterize Jason's skating which for me is the antithesis of the Sinnerman of Alvin Ailey and Nina Simone. I felt like he didn't quite capture the throbbing vitality of the piece, though I quite enjoyed it.

Thanks for the specificity of your subjective impressions. I don't recall seeing an earlier critique by you, so I wasn't necessarily referencing your comments in my previous posts. The wonderful thing is that we all perceive differently, and that's normal.

The fact that all creative projects remain 'works-in-progress,' means that Jason's and Rohene's work together (especially being skating choreography) can and will change over time. Jason skated to Riverdance throughout the fall of 2013. By the time he reached U.S. Nationals in early 2014, as we know, he was loaded for bear! The work and his endurance had been honed, fine-tuned and enhanced, and it showed.

As we know, this has been an abnormal season in which skaters have not had a chance to compete and to 'marinate' their programs at multiple competitions. The fact that the skaters for the most part skated as well as they did at a modified U.S. Nat'ls, is remarkable in and of itself. Of course, not every athlete appeared to be fit and well-trained. But most were able to meet the challenge, even despite not having had the opportunity to train and compete at their usual pace throughout the season. Training in Canada, Jason, as we know in particular, did not have as many competitive opportunities this season as other U.S. athletes.

Regarding 'capturing throbbing vitality,' for me that's in the 'eye of the beholder.' It's important to remember too that it's possible to be inspired by ballet or by modern dance creations, but translating those inspirations to the ice is a complicated process. It's not necessary, nor is it possible to exactly recreate a work from one medium in a different medium. Neither should that be the goal. Also it should be kept in mind that a different version of the music and lyrics was utilized by Rohene to create something inspired by what he saw in Ailey's Sinnerman (and indeed that he heard in Nina Simone's voice).

In any case, I doubt that Rohene was trying to capture 'throbbing vitality.' He was most likely moved by something else. One person's 'throbbing vitality,' could be another person's 'mesmerizing fluidity and charisma.' Plus, Rohene bringing his vision of Sinnerman to the ice as transmuted through Jason's embodiment, is certainly going to look different and encompass something of Jason's personality and movement style.

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.

Yes, an important aspect to keep in mind is that Ailey's Sinnerman is part of a larger modern dance epic masterpiece. Still, I disagree with your complaints in that I do not think Rohene was trying to capture Ailey's vision with exact specificity and fidelity. Nor was he even attempting to translate Ailey's epic work to the ice. Rohene was more likely moved by some feeling or flavor or movement sequence that stirred his imagination and spurred him to think about how to create a similar feeling and movement style, with different nuances, on the ice.

I'm not sure what you're getting at in complaining about them not 'translating Nina Simone's Sinnerman to the ice.' They were not trying to do that either. What do you mean by 'a poor knockoff'? As I said earlier, the creative process is never a slam dunk. It is always a never-ending process. If you wish to be perfect, you will never take the first step. It is important to try, and to learn, and to hone, and to fail, and to begin again, and to never give up.

One key thing of utmost importance for creators to do, is to ignore the critics, and the braying noise by those who haven't engaged in the hard work that has been and is being put into the creative process. Nor are the critics sweating blood and tears in the arena.

It is so easy to sit back and criticize. I include myself in this admonishment, as I am not immune to complaining and criticizing the performances and creative work of others. But at least, I take a step back and temper my comments and judgments, and I try to qualify and to be fair in my reflections. I understand that I'm not the one making the creative decisions, nor am I in possession of every factor involved in the decision-making process that athletes and artists go through.
 
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BlissfulSynergy

Final Flight
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Country
Mars
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.

For the life of me, I am not understanding why you are put out by this analysis you are making. Whether or not your specific views are exactly on point might be debatable. But even if this assessment you are making is accurate, why do you see this as problematic?

Different strokes for different folks, and different teaching methods and skating styles, and different creative visions. Skating encompasses different eras, of course, as well as unique personalities and inspirations and trends. IMO, more about skating's past should be uncovered, examined, and learned from, with benefits of knowledge gained from, and passed down before being lost forever.
 

elbkup

Medalist
Joined
Mar 3, 2015
Country
United-States
BlissfulSynergy many thanks for your responses here; you said what I was feeling so respect on my part. I follow your posts on GS with great interest.
As has been noted in these GS hallowed pages many times, comparing dance (any form) to figure skating is like comparing apples to oranges. Jason and Rohene have created something new unique in their work together over the years, a marriage of styles that perhaps some may feel should never be or at best is far from perfect but I feel it is inevitable and desireable... evolutionary
And it has been done before in one of my very favorite examples.. ;) in dance (soft shoe) that is.. it might make some of us cringe given earlier remarks about Orser’s’80’s style but as elhenry pointed out .. different strokes.. I give you Mikhail Baryshnikov & Gregory Hines..

https://youtu.be/xOMdZiolA7I

Also.. for your pleasure..
11 Pirouettes..


As Baryshnikov says: “Be serious! This isn’t ice skating rink.. it’s impossible!”
 
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Skater Boy

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 24, 2012
Really impressive team for the US. Undefeated Nathan is a rock and he looks like he is pacing himself for Beijing. Vinnie is showing some consistency even not really competing for a year. and Jason is the most gorgeous skater. Yes, he does need the quads to be more competitive but wow.
 

Blades of Passion

Skating is Art, if you let it be
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Sep 14, 2008
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Russia
I do not see what difference it makes that Rohene is not 'working' in the same rink with Jason every day.

Hmm, I think it definitely makes a difference that Rohene isn't there to constantly see the gestures and positions being trained, to make a note of it, and share other ideas that might come in the moment. It's very easy for certain things that are supposed to be rougher around the edges, to get smoothed over. It's also about him not having the "final cut" anymore for Jason's skating; it always matters if a detail about something you created is changed.

I don't have a particular dislike for Orser's camp, more than most others. Skating schools are usually insular and lacking in a wider viewpoint. CC has a good training environment, but don't do everything the best. That school has a particular love for old-timey thematic material and at times it seems they try to model the skaters after themselves, instead of what might be better. Rohene has introduced a different style with a lot of his concepts and moves, and that style was ingrained in Jason's development as a skater, and for the better I think. Jason's skating at CC, they seem to be trying to make him into the traditional leading man, the overall presentation is more predictable.
 

sworddance21

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
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).
Horton influences, then, if that sits better with you. Obviously he is not using specific Horton technique because he's skating - but there are definitely Horton influences in the choreography. "Everyone's a dancer" is not any philosophy I've ever encountered as a modern dancer. Modern dancers train hard and there are as many different techniques as there are variations of ballet technique and jazz techniques.
 

TontoK

Hot Tonto
Record Breaker
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Jan 28, 2013
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United-States
New content from my favorite Instagram show-off, Ilia Malinin.

3A from a dead stop... well from a dead stop with just a little hop.

This kid is an absolute pistol, but I'm sure USFSA will beat the charm out of him soon enough.


If you turn on the sound, you can hear a young lady say "yeahhhh!"

Shades of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher.
 

Skatesocs

Final Flight
Joined
May 16, 2020
I wouldn't call it "Horton influenced" either. The point to me is simple. Just because Brown and Ward looked at an Ailey piece doesn't make them experts in Ailey's technique or performance direction or artistry, nor does it mean I should take my complaints up to Alvin Ailey if someone didn't convince me with their performance (even if just said humourously - there's no reason to disregard someone's valid criticism). No more than a random performance of Carmen or Nutcracker or Don Quixote making obvious ballet references means I should go to Bolshoi or Mariinsky or The Royal Ballet if I have any complaints with the choreography.

Otherwise, what are we saying? That the Ailey piece and the technique are so easy to copy that any random person who's studied it a couple times can do it? We do after all go out of our way to cauterize what Zagitova's Don Quixote did "balletically" - it's entirely obvious there to me, much like it is in this Sinnerman piece (even if Brown is a much better performer with fewer weaknesses). If there were 50 people all doing Sinnerman, it wouldn't even be a problem to notice obvious flaws - because the skating fandom will know exactly what to look for, and the fact that it can easily recognize it with "balletic" pieces but not this one means more that skating fans don't have knowledge about Alvin Ailey rather than Brown or Ward being just that amazing. And I sure hope that part is fixed soon.

Anyway, I have little else to say here. Goodbye.
 

sworddance21

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
I wouldn't call it "Horton influenced" either. The point to me is simple. Just because Brown and Ward looked at an Ailey piece doesn't make them experts in Ailey's technique or performance direction or artistry, nor does it mean I should take my complaints up to Alvin Ailey if someone didn't convince me with their performance (even if just said humourously - there's no reason to disregard someone's valid criticism). No more than a random performance of Carmen or Nutcracker or Don Quixote making obvious ballet references means I should go to Bolshoi or Mariinsky or The Royal Ballet if I have any complaints with the choreography.

Otherwise, what are we saying? That the Ailey piece and the technique are so easy to copy that any random person who's studied it a couple times can do it? We do after all go out of our way to cauterize what Zagitova's Don Quixote did "balletically" - it's entirely obvious there to me, much like it is in this Sinnerman piece (even if Brown is a much better performer with fewer weaknesses). If there were 50 people all doing Sinnerman, it wouldn't even be a problem to notice obvious flaws - because the skating fandom will know exactly what to look for, and the fact that it can easily recognize it with "balletic" pieces but not this one means more that skating fans don't have knowledge about Alvin Ailey rather than Brown or Ward being just that amazing. And I sure hope that part is fixed soon.

Anyway, I have little else to say here. Goodbye.
You are entitled to your opinion. I would like to add, that as a professional dancer and choreographer trained both in RAD ballet technique and in the Horton technique, I see influences of the Horton choreography in Jason's SP and I enjoy it. I do not feel qualified to comment on how much Rohene or Jason did or did not study the original Sinnerman or take Horton technique classes and I honestly don't care. As a white dancer I cannot comment on how a person of color might feel about a white performer paying homage to other than to mention (as I think someone else has in this thread - one of the original trio that AA set Sinnerman on was Jonathan Riseling, a white dancer, and to say that my current Horton teacher (a stunning black woman) loved the piece. If someone sees the piece and discovers Ailey, then that's awesome.
 

Dawn825

Final Flight
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
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?
Hard to say in the past few years whether it's been Vincent or Jason but it doesn't really matter, Vincent is definitely the current number #2. And there are definitely people who are rooting against Vincent based on his perceived political opinions, but I suppose that doesn't really matter either - he'll skate how he skates whether people like him or not. (To be clear, I don't actually know Vincent, only what other fans say about him.)
 
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bonita

Final Flight
Joined
Mar 27, 2018
Hard to say in the past few years whether it's been Vincent or Jason but it doesn't really matter, Vincent is definitely the current number #2. And there are definitely people who are rooting against Vincent based on his perceived political opinions, but I suppose that doesn't really matter either - he'll skate how he skates whether people like him or not. (To be clear, I don't actually know Vincent, only what other fans say about him.)
Honestly, “he is not consistent“ and “he consistently is #2” is not contradictory . It just says how the men’s field currently is, not only in US, but the whole world. Shoma, Misha and Boyang are not consistent either in the past several seasons after the Olympics, but they are still consistently the top in their own countries.
 

Dawn825

Final Flight
Joined
Jan 19, 2021
Fair enough. Men's field is a hot mess. I don't have any idea right now who I'd want to be third at the Olympics.
 

TontoK

Hot Tonto
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Jan 28, 2013
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United-States
Hard to say in the past few years whether it's been Vincent or Jason but it doesn't really matter, Vincent is definitely the current number #2. And there are definitely people who are rooting against Vincent based on his perceived political opinions, but I suppose that doesn't really matter either - he'll skate how he skates whether people like him or not. (To be clear, I don't actually know Vincent, only what other fans say about him.)

Huh. I have no idea what Vincent's political opinions (perceived or otherwise) might be, and I certainly don't want to.

I can't imagine why anyone would care. How insecure must a person be to worry about what Vincent Zhou thinks? He's a boy, not even legal drinking age in America.

He and all these other guys have one function relative to my life. Entertain me on the ice.
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
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There was a sideline into some of what may or may not be Vincent's political philosophy in the Nats PBP, but 1) we don't really know, 2) Goldenskate guidelines discourage political talk, and 3) I'm not really sure that people are rooting "against" Vincent.

I would posit that it is not that Vincent is disliked, but that the other top two US men have more (as in more numerous) defenders, and certainly passionate ones.:) And if we were to say there are two "kinds" of fans (I'm not crazy about that simplification, but let's say there are) fans of big jumps, more jumps, wow me with jumps and consistent winning will favor one of those men, and fans that say I don't care about jumps, wow me with spins and performance and transitions will favor another. And Vincent is not either of those two;)

Of course, even if I have a fav (or two), I do enjoy watching all the US men. We have an embarrassment of riches:clap:
 

TontoK

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@el henry That actually makes a lot of sense. Vincent is a good skater overall, but I'm not sure I'd classify him as the best at anything... at least not yet. But he does bring (mostly) consistency and effort and growth, and I can appreciate that.

You and I share the ability to enjoy what a lot of men bring. People should be like us.
 

anonymoose_au

Making sequined tie and vest combos cool
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Feb 22, 2014
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I would posit that it is not that Vincent is disliked
Unfortunately, you'd be wrong there, there are people who literally hate his guts and probably wouldn't bother to brake if they saw him crossing the street.

Someone streaming the US Nats outright refused to show his skate, although they were perfectly fine with people in the comments hurling abuse at him.

It was really charming.
 

BlissfulSynergy

Final Flight
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Sep 1, 2020
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Mars
Hmm, I think it definitely makes a difference that Rohene isn't there to constantly see the gestures and positions being trained, to make a note of it, and share other ideas that might come in the moment.
Eh, but we have no idea of their work process, nor of what input Rohene might give throughout the competitive season from afar. Jason and Rohene know each other through and through, so for the short programs they've worked on the past few years, I'm not so certain that Jason would have required Rohene "to constantly see gestures and positions being trained." Those short programs they worked on together at a time when they were together and could focus on what was needed during that time. This is probably the reason why the two of them focused on only creating short programs in recent years.
 

sworddance21

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
@el henry That actually makes a lot of sense. Vincent is a good skater overall, but I'm not sure I'd classify him as the best at anything... at least not yet. But he does bring (mostly) consistency and effort and growth, and I can appreciate that.

You and I share the ability to enjoy what a lot of men bring. People should be like us.
YES! I am unabashedly a Jason fan, but that is most likely due to my being a modern dancer and I feel like Jason is a dancer on ice. HOWEVER, I also love watching Nathan skate. He brings the big jumps for sure! And he also brings his own effortless cool and swag. I love it.

Vincent is so young - he's growing and developing and I am excited to see where that goes.

As for the folks who seem to be wondering who the #3 skater to the Olympics should be, I really don't understand why that wouldn't be Jason. You may not like that he doesn't have a consistent quad jump, but how can you not appreciate the scores he gets regardless? He consistently scores high with international judges and is currently ranked #6 (SIX) in the world. I do realize ISF rankings can be wonky, but still, he had have done something well to be ranked that high. There is a CLEAR distinction, IMHO, with the top 3 US men and it is Chen, Zhou, and Brown. There is a tremendous amount of young talent in our men's field and that is exciting and heck, but right now there is a clear top 3.
 
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