Interview with Daniil Gleikhengauz | Page 4 | Golden Skate

Interview with Daniil Gleikhengauz


Record Breaker
Jan 5, 2019
Here is my take on:
Zagitova, as we know her, was created by Gleikhengauz. He calls Alina "my muse"

Daniil Gleichengauz is only 28 years old. But today in ladies' figure skating there is no other choreographer with a higher status and more puissance - a fact which will become especially obvious in the coming season.
It was he who staged those masterpieces for the skaters that dominated in recent years. You remember them exactly:

• Olympic Black Swan, last year's Phantom of the Opera and Carmen by Alina Zagitova - golden hits of Pyeongchang 2018 and Saitama 2019;

• “Anna Karenina” in 2018 for Yevgeniya Medvyedeva - silver in Pyeongchang;

• “Kill Bill” and “The Fifth Element” - Aleksandra Trusova won the Junior World Cup and set records with them;

• “Moonlight Sonata” and “Seasons,” which brought Elisabet Tursynbayeva the unexpected silver of the 2019 World Championships;

• as well as Richard Klaiderman and Camille Saint-Saens, who brought Anna Shcherbakova the gold in the Russian championship and magical performances for Alyona Kostornaya - also from Gleikhengauz.

More than 300 pieces over 5 years in the team of Eteri Tutberidze - also taking into account program trends, figure skating shows, performances for kids and cooperation with skaters from other groups - Ivan Rigini, dancers Davis and Varlamov, and the pair skaters Pavlyuchenko - Khodykin.

Let us trace back the path by which Gleikhengauz came to the status of number one director for female figure skating programs in the world.

From birth, Daniel was trained as a ballet dancer - which was what his mother, Lyudmila Shalashova, ballet dancer of the Bolshoi Theater, dreamed about. She began to teach her son choreography and prepared him for the stage, as soon as he learned to walk.

“I was engaged in choreography as long as I can remember, so I really had no choice. In childhood, there were moments of negative attitude towards mom and her initiatives. Then, it seemed to me she tortured me ”, Gleichengauz said in an interview with Moskovskiy Figurist magazine.

Choreography overtook him everywhere - at home, in the country, on a walk - and for several hours daily. But ballet schools only take children over 8 years old, so 4-year-old Daniel was taken to the rink – as a temporary measure. But when the time came for ballet, the prospects for figure skating outweighed those for ballet - to quit the sport now would be too wasteful.

However, the choreographic homework did not disappear – Daniil’s mother kept tutoring him for a long time.

“To be honest, until the age of 17 I simply hated choreography. Well, imagine: a transitional age, everyone, having worked out on the ice, goes to McDonald's, and your mother-ballerina gives you ballet shoes and says: “Let's go train somewhere”. When you get older, you realize that without this you would not have become a choreographer, because the sense of posture had been instilled by your mother from childhood", now Lyudmila Shalashova (Daniil’s mother) also works with the Tutberidze team.

Who helps Tutberidze? There are no top skaters, but there is a Bolshoi artist and a dancer who works with pop stars

In February 2003, then 11-year-old Daniil won the championship of Russia in his age group - the tournament that turned him into a grand hope of men's skating. Behind peers Nikita Katsalapov (with whom Gleichengauz studied for a long time in the same group at the Sokolnikov school with Irina Druzik) and Fyodor Klimov, the future stars of dancing and pair skating. The victory of Gleikhengauz meant that he definitely could not escape from single men’s skating.

“At present, the training process has changed a lot. When I skated myself, we did 2-3 full programs a week, and it seemed to us that was very difficult. Work on the jumps was in the spirit of "jumping once - trying again in a few minutes." Now the training intensity is much higher, and the number of program run throughs is much larger. Now 7-year-old athletes sometimes train for 5-6 hours a day, and I used to have an hour or two ”
, in comparison to Gleikhengauz’ generation.

By that time, Viktor Kudryavtsev, a man who always trained not just skaters, but future coaches and specialists, was already taking care of me for 4 years. Just go through the encyclopedia of his pupils: Aleksander Lakernik, Nataliya Pavlova, Sergey Dudakov, Nikolai Morozov, Viktoriya Butsayeva, Ilya Averbukh, Tat’yana Mishina.

It's funny that before Kudryavtsev appeared, Gleichengauz trained for several weeks with Yelena Buyanova - an experience they usually joke about when they meet.

Daniel continued to stand out at children's competitions: he won the Final of the Youth Cup of Russia in 2004, the Spartakiad of students in 2005. But the season 2006/07 became the high point in his career - in February Gleichengauz took bronze at the Junior Championship of Russia (lost to Sergey Voronov, who is still skating, and Artyom Borodulin) and got selected for the Junior World Championship.

It was a crazily dense tournament for some future stars - Patrick Chan, Florent Amodio, Kevin Reynolds, Michal Brzezina, Denis Ten, Sergey Voronov. Daniil failed - only took 19th place.

His programs, by modern standards, looked rustic: a triple flip and a cascade of a triple Rittberger with a double Toeloop in the short; set of triplets without Lutz in the free. Now, students with such a set are being hold back already at the gates of Khrustalniy, but Daniel has an excuse - at some point he stopped learning quadruples.

His ankle had bothered him before, but before the free skate of the 2007 Junior World Championships, it became seriously inflamed - Daniel went out on the ice with a swelling and severe pain. The doctors then searched for the cause for a long time, made conflicting diagnoses, even an operation did not help, after which it took half a year to recover.

But it didn’t work out into a serious come back, 17th place in the 2008 adult championship of Russia was a trigger for big changes.

“I returned several times to the ice, and as soon as I began to load my leg, it immediately began to hurt again. A month or two of loads - and again back in treatment. Triple Axel’s, and even more so quads, had to be forgotten right away. This went on for 2 years - I leave the ice and immediately begin to heal. Then again ice and back to treatment again. As a result, at the age of 18, together with my parents at a family council I decided to end my solitary career and try ice dancing. ”

Kudryavtsev quickly agreed on the transition to dance with Aleksander Zhulin, the most sought-after dance coach of the time. His duet Navka - Kostomarov has just won the Olympics, and experts from America have not set trends in ice skating yet.

For Gleikhengauz, who had studied choreography since childhood, ice dancing really seemed like the best solution. But everything turned out to be more complicated.

“They told me:“ All things considered you have done well, but you don’t know how to do anything ”. And they made me do the main stroke, had me going forwards and backwards. For 200-300 laps in a row I did my turns. For six months I didn’t do anything else, I completely changed my sliding technique for dancing, learned to push off, ” Daniil said in an interview with 'Inside Sport' magazine.

Only six months later, Zhulin allocated Gleikhengauz a dance partner - Kseniya Korobkova. She was 4 years younger than the 19-year-old Daniil, and almost a season went by in creating a duo – they only reached competition readiness by the spring of 2011.

The emphasis was on the season 2011/12 – the last before leaving for adults. The pair needed a rating, serious points, recognition of judges - in order to overcome the crazy queue in ice dance as quickly as possible.

But enthusiasm ran out when the duet returned from the victorious tournaments in Germany and the Czech Republic to the junior championship of Russia. In Novogorsk, the Russian judges gave Gleichengauz and Korobkova 30 points less than the foreign ones and this put them in 11th place, trailing Viktoriya Sinitsyna and Ruslan Zhiganshin by 48 points- it was like a sentence.

Finally, Daniil quit with dancing and his skater's career in general, realizing that after the death of his father (Mark Gleikhengauz was a well-known film director and director of photography), the family is desperately short of money. In 2012, he got a job in his native Moskvich school, where at first he helped young trainers - Aleksander Shubin, Viktoria Volchkova, Yuliya Soldatova in working with children. And in his free time he performed in the ice shows of Ilya Averbukh – as an actor in mass scenes.

After 3 years, it was Averbukh, the then principal director of programs for the group of Tutberidze, who led Gleikhengauz to Khrustalniy. After Sochi 2014, Eteri was looking for a rehearsal-choreographer to add to the team (a trainer who works out already staged programs), and Averbukh gave her Daniil’s number, who in 2014 was already staging solo parts in ice shows.

“Can you give the guys something to skate?” Eteri has collected them herself. At first, Daniil was engaged with her skaters only in sliding, while continuing to work in Moskvich. It seems this was like a probation period - new people in the Tutberidze team usually stayed for a couple of months, no longer. Gleikhengauz was the exception.

True, his first idea - the Black Swan program in the post-Olympic season for Yuliya Lipnitskaya - was refused by the skater herself. A few years later, this ‘delayed’ program would bring Olympic gold to Alina Zagitova.

Eleti entrusted the self-directed staging of the adult top programs to Gleikhengauz in the summer of 2015 – the first was to be a new short program for Adyan Pitkeyev.

“I really wanted Daniil to stage the program for me, because I saw how motivated he was - just what I needed at that moment. He immediately offered to take the “Appassionate” from Secret Garden, but it lacked a small musical part. We listened to a ton of music until we accidentally struck the Japanese musician Takeshi Hama. We immediately understood - this will be a great combination.

My main memory of our cooperation is that we staged that program together. I didn’t really like it when the directors simply told me what to do, holding on to the framework of their ideas. With Daniil it was just the opposite - he listened to my suggestions, was looking for the best options. In fact, Eteri Georgiyevna gave us complete responsibility - now I don’t remember exactly whether she interfered with the process at all, but it felt like it was completely my joint effort with Daniil. After that production I wanted to stage new programs myself - now, working with athletes, I always suggest that they add something from themselves, look for their own ideas and provide input ”, Pitkeyev said in an interview with

Perhaps the most talented student of Tutberidze: quitted because of injury, now back in training and listening to thrash metal

The real Gleikhengauz revealed himself, of course, in the Olympic season - simultaneously with Alina Zagitova. If the production of Don Quixote, kept from junior season was still ‘owned’ by Tutberidze, the short program for Pyeongchang 2018 was already staged by Gleikhengauz - the very same Black Swan rejected by Lipnitskaya.

Zagitova for Gleikhengauz is, of course, the main skater. He traveled with her through the junior stages of the Grand Prix, he unambiguously congratulated her on Instagram “Happy Birthday, my muse!”, he comforted her after unsuccessful skates, he also gave her bold performances in exhibition routines (Afro Blue, Lara Croft, Bad Guy) .

Alina grew up, changed and became better still using the programs from Gleikhengauz. He created for her, she performed his creations amazingly (and still does).

“When I heard the music from the movie “ Moonlight ”, it gave me feelings of tossing and throwing, suffering, the cry of a bird, and thought: what if we try to combine modern music with Tchaikovsky’s classics? I gave it to Eteri Georgiyevna to listen, she replied that everything fits perfectly. And so it turned out: the beginning - a little "Swan Lake", then the long part and the sliding sequence - the moment of the Swan's transformation. The final, with the transition back to Swan Lake, with the transformation, dressing up - the spectacular end of the program ”, Daniil explained the success of the program.

From that moment on, there were only successes – Gleikhengauz’ programs are always artistic, individual and filled to the brim with special effects.

The current offseason is a crucial time for him. Almost a dozen masterpiece programs are required from Daniil, every one unlike the other, for Zagitova, Trusova, Shcherbakova, Kostornaya, Tursynbayeva - skaters who will attract the attention of spectators in the new season. And they can win all there is to win.

This is the prominent challenge.


PS: the paragraph sub headers I found out are not related to this article but lead to other articles worthy of translation too. Later ....
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