Underrated choreographers

withwings

On the Ice
Joined
Jan 5, 2014
Philip Mills. He truly choreographed breath taking programs for Tatsuki Machida; Wagner's Black Swan was a masterpiece, too.
 

pohatta

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 15, 2005
I'd like to mention Jorma Uotinen, the man behind the most provocative Rahkamo & Kokko programs. His background is in modern dance and theatre and I don't think he's made choreographies to any other skaters than R&K.
 

elektra blue

mother of skaters
Record Breaker
Joined
Jul 11, 2018
Country
Italy
Daniil Gleyhengauz, obviously :biggrin: The guy makes a lot of great programs, but a lot of people constantly criticize him and his programs for reasons I do not understand.

his choreos look always so...nervous :biggrin: there's no room for "breath" every movement is in a split second and suddenly there's another one, he doesn't allow you to enjoy the lines, the moves themselves. i like just two of his works: Scheerbakova's Rondo Capriccioso and Valieva's fs
 

Harriet

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 23, 2017
Country
Australia
Romain Haguenauer. His choreographies for many of the junior (and senior) teams at Gadbois has been consistently high quality, often surprising and result-getting - he was after all the one who built Fear/Gibson's stellar Disco Medley FD.
 

Orlov

Medalist
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
Because his choreography tends to be overly cluttered. Unfortunately, in the drive to milk every point, he throws everything into the pot and then heats it up. I'd love to see what he could choreograph if he was allowed to let the moves breathe, have some space and time. Right now, I don't remember his choreography, I just remember jump-spin-too many steps in the step sequence-spin-halfway point-jump-jump-jump-jump-jump-jump-spin-jump.

Please explain to me with a detailed example. I am not an expert like you - I just see an amazing program that takes my breath away and in which everything is in its place.

That's what I talking about - I see amazing program, masterpieces. And people do not see it. Therefore, I truly think that Gleykhengauz underrated choreographer :)

I dunno, maybe I'm just a stupid redneck that does not have a refined taste like you guys (As we say - "In his entire life, he ate nothing sweeter than carrots").
 

Orlov

Medalist
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
his choreos look always so...nervous :biggrin: there's no room for "breath" every movement is in a split second and suddenly there's another one, he doesn't allow you to enjoy the lines, the moves themselves. i like just two of his works: Scheerbakova's Rondo Capriccioso and Valieva's fs

I'm enjoying "the moves themselves" here, at first few second after 2A when Alyona slides in amazing deep curves looking straight into your eyes, or at this second after flip. Or do you want it - "the moves themselves" - to go on for hours? Why?

Here, the choreography creates an amazingly convincing image of a powerful being with a huge hidden power - Angel. Sudden power energy interspersed with smooth line. It's awesome, everything is in place.

My hypothesis is the following - a huge number of old fans brought up in the programs of previous years. Where "need pretends to be virtue" - the skaters of that time simply couldn’t do that and the programs were primitive. I liked how Yagudin when he commented on one of the competitions honestly admitted "in my time the programs were primitive and simple - we just running by line from jump to jump." So I think that the "refined tastes" and the views of many are brought up on the weak possibilities of the skaters of that era.
 

cohen-esque

Final Flight
Joined
Jan 27, 2014
This ended up being sort of long and probably a little bit thread-derailing, so maybe if the mods wanted to move these posts to a more specific choreo thread or something, idk.

Please explain to me with a detailed example. I am not an expert like you - I just see an amazing program that takes my breath away and in which everything is in its place.

That's what I talking about - I see amazing program, masterpieces. And people do not see it. Therefore, I truly think that Gleykhengauz underrated choreographer :)

It is very late where I am but I can’t sleep at all, so I’ll tackle a little bit of this while in my cranky and slightly delirious mood. I have to say first that I don’t really like this program, but my biggest problems with it are more about Kostornaya’s own delivery of the movements and timing, not Daniil’s choreo. I’ll just go through some of it on a superficial level, and point out my most obvious impressions from the program, and try to stick as strictly to the CO as I can without bringing up IN/PE aspects.

Alright, so, to begin… The opening choreographic sequence (pivot—three--rocker—counter—stop---pivot) is fine. I like the placement of the actual counter turn in relation to the music, and the decision to do the slightly quicker and more dynamic counter instead of the rocker. (It also gets her off to a fairly good start in terms of TR.)

The turns she does after that are a little more glaringly pointless, though. There’s no reason for them to be there, they don’t correspond to the music as she does them. I also don’t know what they’re supposed to be conveying; they seem out of place or even contradictory next to the atmosphere that had already starting to be built up. Aside from being pointless on their own, their presence also dilute the impact of the little kick + turn that follows on the next obvious cue, which is itself okay from a choreo standpoint despite the fact that I don’t like her execution of it in terms of both movement/position and timing. After that, she just does some crossovers with slight arm movements, and the effect isn’t really worse musically, which should say something.

The step forward and pointing at the judges into the waltz jump is again fine. But it’s once again placed on the exact same kind of super obvious musical cue as almost every other moment in this program. It’s the first 20 seconds and Daniil’s fallen back to the same basic think 4 times already (the opening pivot, the stop-and-pivot in that same phrase, the kick, and now this.)

This is immediately followed up by doing the exact same thing with the 2A + stag jump (and since this is one of the major elements I’ll mention that I think here that her timing was a shade off again.)

I do enjoy the impression that’s created while she's doing those deep edges after the 2A. She sells that moment better than any other IMO.

The steps into the 3F don’t really serve any purpose except to check a box for having steps into the 3F. The same typical cue for a choreographic movement I’ve already come to expect is skated right through this time, so I guess that's a pleasant surprise? Unfortunately it isn't a tradeoff towards anything better. The first few of the turns here are unnecessary; either taken as a series of specific individual steps to those specific muscial moments or taken together as a more general phrase. They don’t correspond to or help bring out any of the more subtle aspects of the music

I do think, though, that at the end of this sequence the last two turns into the 3F are again used fairly well with the music. The solid sense of momentum that she has throughout the counter and three and up into the 3F compliment how the music begins to swell a bit to the exact same cue once again used for the 3F after being used for the 2A and the waltz jump GAH.

There’s nothing to really compliment going in to the Flying Camel. I’m going to switch gears here and whine about how she *didn’t* hit any of those obvious cues within this. Either change of position could have been placed on one, and it would have added a lot to making the spin seem like it was thoughtfully placed in the program. As is it’s just a throwaway element to demarcate the beginning piano section and the next music cut, but it doesn’t even do that well, because nothing within the spin indicates a transition and she’s still in the process of exiting it when the music changes.


… And since this would be quite a long post if I finished the next half of the program, despite the fact that I’m really not even going into a huge amount of detail about the choreo as is, I’ll wrap this up and just use that first section through the Flying Camel. (But as an addendum I’ll point out that the steps she does into the 3Lz+3T were just lifted exactly from her previous programs and forced onto the different music.)

I guess my criticism of Daniil’s choreo as drawn from the first half of this one particular program is just the pointlessness of it.

The opening of the program has attention to detail, and then there's those edges after the Axel, which is the only moment that really sells much of a feeling of anything to me and they do it well, so those are the positive standouts. But pretty much every single other movement in this program besides those really obvious cues just… had no point. Someone may or may not think they were nice and pretty, but they exist for no particular musical reason, and they also don’t really come together to create a cohesive feeling or atmosphere in accordance with the music. Some of this program comes across as a little busy while other parts are serene, with nothing in the music to justify that contrast. And aside from being just a pointless add-on, in two cases I though that these extra moves actually served to detract from the impact of other, better parts of the program and so make the whole composition worse than the sum of its parts.

And since those few more successful moments showed that Daniil is totally capable of adding visual interest and transitional variety in a way that isn’t utterly pointless and unmusical, it just makes the rest of the program seem all the worse.

I also have no idea what the concept of this program as a whole was supposed to be. (I did rewatch the enitre thing.) Even with just the half I wrote about, if it’s that far along and I have no idea what is supposed to be conveyed, there’s been some major failure of the choreographer or/and skater. I honestly believe that for a singles program, it’s enough to disregard big themes or narratives and just emphasize the skater moving along with the music well and reflecting the feeling that the piece invokes, but she doesn’t, so what’s left after?

And deliberately considering this at the most superficial level which should be the easiest to execel at for choreographers. These days if I got a little more technical I could rant about a lot of skating programs for days, and I'm not even a proper expert.

I'm enjoying "the moves themselves" here, at first few second after 2A when Alyona slides in amazing deep curves looking straight into your eyes, or at this second after flip. Or do you want it - "the moves themselves" - to go on for hours? Why?

Here, the choreography creates an amazingly convincing image of a powerful being with a huge hidden power - Angel. Sudden power energy interspersed with smooth line. It's awesome, everything is in place.
Well, I did agree with you here. But then this is just a few seconds out of a ~2:50 program.

My hypothesis is the following - a huge number of old fans brought up in the programs of previous years. Where "need pretends to be virtue" - the skaters of that time simply couldn’t do that and the programs were primitive. I liked how Yagudin when he commented on one of the competitions honestly admitted "in my time the programs were primitive and simple - we just running by line from jump to jump." So I think that the "refined tastes" and the views of many are brought up on the weak possibilities of the skaters of that era.

This might be true of Yagudin’s era when the men were using all of their energy to complete one or two quads. But 10-20 years before there were skaters like the Brians doing programs with multiple and highly varied transitions. In women’s, something like Witt’s 1988 programs utilized a lot more in the way of connecting steps and choreography, albeit with more emphasis on toework than turns, than many of the program of the 1990s, when women started to commonly attempt 7-triple layouts and 3-3s. Going way, way further back to the 1950s and 1960s there still were skaters like Tenley Albright whose programs were packed with transitions outside of and between the jumps. Today the emphasis is more on turns, but there was a time that long gliding edges and smooth steps were preferred, and times when busy and fast toework was preferred. Standards go back and forth.

I think the difference really down to more of a difference in choreographic emphasis. Your post above with the moment you liked in Alyona’s program doesn’t really have to do with any specific relation of her movements to her music itself. You like the feeling that’s she able to evoke specifically through "the moves themselves." Programs conceptualized like this have become much more of the norm nowadays. But most older fans seem, to me, to go the other way. They want emphasizing moments to reflect the music itself in some clear way, and for the feeling of the music to dictate the feeling of the skating and choreography. So if the moves that sell the program are also off with the music, then what's the point? And while that does probably reflect the state of skating they grew up with, but not because those programs were necessarily "primitive" in an artistic sense.

I would argue that the latter type of program is the more difficult thing to achieve and execute well from a purely artistic standpoint, and that people tend to underestimate the technical skill and also the athletic capability needed to pull really good programs like that off from a skating standpoint.

I As we say - "In his entire life, he ate nothing sweeter than carrots"
:eek:topic: I once bought 100% pure, unsweetened carrot juice, because someone told me it was good, but that other kinds would probably be *too sweet* for me... then I took one sip and I thought I'd burned my mouth off. It was about as fun as licking a leaking battery.
 

WeakAnkles

Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 1, 2011
Please explain to me with a detailed example. I am not an expert like you - I just see an amazing program that takes my breath away and in which everything is in its place.

That's what I talking about - I see amazing program, masterpieces. And people do not see it. Therefore, I truly think that Gleykhengauz underrated choreographer :)

I dunno, maybe I'm just a stupid redneck that does not have a refined taste like you guys (As we say - "In his entire life, he ate nothing sweeter than carrots").

There's not much I can add to cohen-esque's absolutely first rate analysis of the program. But there are a few things I can add about your post.

I would be very careful to apply the word "masterpiece" to a program. For instance, I didn't see any masterpieces in any of the four disciplines last year, though three programs I think came close: Sui/Han's free program, Gilles/Poirier's free dance, and JBrown's short program. Interestingly enough, I think all three have done BETTER programs in the past, so as good as these were, it should tell you just how rare and exquisite a masterpiece is and SHOULD BE. Once you start throwing superlatives like "masterpiece" around you dilute their power. In my own mind, I tend to differentiate between those very few programs which I believe ARE "masterpieces" with a much larger number of programs I think of as "ruthlessly memorable." Just my take on things.

Please do not refer to yourself as "a stupid redneck."For one thing, it's obviously not true ,and for a second, I don't see what purpose that kind of self-denigration serves. What I would ask you to think about is the difference between personal taste and more objective (a term I am using very very very very very loosely here) aesthetic excellence (which can be as subjective as the most personal of personal taste and, as cohen-esque pointed out in that excellent post, changes over time as to what exactly is prized; aestheticism has its fashions and foibles too). Hey, I'm all for people loving what they love. Life is hard enough and if something brings you joy embrace the heck out of it. But that is a very different thing in kind from an aesthetic judgment. I'll give you an example. My niece, who is 14, paints and draws. Last year, in an art class, she was asked to do a painting of a room interior in the style of Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles. Her's was quite lovely, and she has an innate and quirky sense of color that is quite unusual for a 14 year old. But is it on the same level aesthetically as Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedroom_in_Arles)? Well frankly no. She doesn't have Van Gogh's sureness of line or command of impasto or his ability to subtly adjust perspective to the specific needs of the painting (I've seen the second version, which is in Chicago's Art Institute). I love my niece's painting (she sent me a lovely photograph of it), but frankly Van Gogh's is simply better.

One last thing. And this is from your following post:

My hypothesis is the following - a huge number of old fans brought up in the programs of previous years. Where "need pretends to be virtue" - the skaters of that time simply couldn’t do that and the programs were primitive. I liked how Yagudin when he commented on one of the competitions honestly admitted "in my time the programs were primitive and simple - we just running by line from jump to jump." So I think that the "refined tastes" and the views of many are brought up on the weak possibilities of the skaters of that era.

NB: oh good, the quote worked. This is a placeholder while I'm finishing up this post.

ETA: Given the post below, I can't be bothered to finish this.
 

Baron Vladimir

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 18, 2014
Very informative post :thumbsup:, but i will comment only on things i disagree with. Which i think are product of the different nature of understanding the figure skating program itself. According to your posts, my impression is that you understand composition of the program as a thing reflective to the music (and only to the music) skaters are skating to. I don't think that's the case (or should be). Every program is based on some required elements prescribed by ISU. Those required elements are including jumps, spins, steps/choreo movements. Its not the requirement that every movement should be replica of the music! That goes only after and its not the most important thing to look at while analyzing composition of the skaters program. What are you talking about (mostly) is one of the ISU criteria for the composition, called phrase and form/maching the musical structure. I agree that Kostornaya's program in some parts is lacking in that, but then again i didn't see many of other programs last season which are expressing musical phrasing much better (or in much higher capacity) than what we have here. That is because programs are not just motivated by the structure of the music itself, but in first place by requred elements, and also by criterias of the other program components. We can say that 'music requirement' is involved in COmposition not more than 50%, but almost totally in INterpration, while its not part or has only little involvement in other components. So, if some movements, turns and steps has no relation to the music phrase, they are there to fullfill other programs requirement. Leg kick and other movements are maybe pointless from the music point of you, but they are not pointless from the point of view of other requirements. They are even part of the requirements present in COmposition like it is multidimensional use of space with your body movements (not to mention they are present in different form in SS and TR requirements too). My point is that choreographer's job is not only to show how well skater is matching the musical phrase in his/her program, that is just one (small, and certanly not the most important) part of the job.
 

WeakAnkles

Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 1, 2011
Very informative post :thumbsup:, but i will comment only on things i disagree with. Which i think are product of the different nature of understanding the figure skating program itself. According to your post, my impression is that you understand composition of the program as a thing reflective to the music (and only to the music) skaters are skating to. I don't think that's the case (or should be). Every program is based on some required elements prescribed by ISU. Those required elements are including jumps, spins, steps/choreo movements. Its not the requirement that every movement should be replica of the music. That goes only after and its not the most important thing to look at while analyzing composition of the skaters program. What are you talking about (mostly) is one of the ISU criteria for the composition, called phrase and form/maching the musical structure. I agree that Kostornaya's program in some parts is lacking in that, but then again i didn't see many of other programs last season which are expressing musical phrasing much better (or in much better capacity) than what we have here. That is because programs are not just motivated by the structure of the music itself, but in first place by requred elements, and also by criterias of the other program components. We can say that 'music requirement' is involved in COmposition not more than 50%, but almost totally in INterpration, while its not part or has only little involvement in other components. So, if some movements, turns and steps has no relation to the music phrase, they are there to fullfill other programs requirement. Leg kick and other movements are maybe pointless from the music point of you, but they are not pointless from the point of view of other requirements. They are even part of the requirements present in COmposition like it is multidimensional use of space with your body movements (not to mention they are present in different form in SS and TR requirements too).

True, and that's part of the problem, probably the biggest part of the problem. In the haste to wring out every point possible, throw in another kick, another three turn, another rocker. Competitively it makes sense: gotta rack up those points. Aesthetically it is resulting in cluttered programs where the relationship between music and movement is most often an afterthought. Then again, yesterday's empty programs (or if you prefer, primitive) are today's cluttered ones.
 

yume

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 11, 2016
Nikolai Morozov. He didn't create something memorable in the last quad but he did many great works before for all disciplines.
 

Ladskater

~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~
Record Breaker
Joined
Jul 28, 2003
I wouldn't say David Wilson is underrated but he certainly has a large stable of skaters he does consider "the little ones" In other words skaters who have flown under the radar but have a lot of talent. A couple of my favorite Canadian champions "former Canadian champions Sébastien Britten and Josée Chouinard (who both became world professional champions)" I love David Wilson's work with other great skaters, like Brian Orser and Jeff Buttle.

"Yet, for every big name on Wilson's roster are scores of little names, young skaters who are not yet part of skating lore. That's how Wilson operates."


More on Wilson's choreography

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/choreographer-enters-the-spotlight/article18181047/
 

yyyskate

Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
And poor handsome Uncle Tom Dickson:biggrin:, his name is not even mentioned so far on this thread says how under-rated he is...
And he just lost his long-term client Satoko this season (and a few other clients ...)
But two of the most memorable ladies program last season (Sutton's tango and Rika's storm) are crafted by him.

ETA, I could write a couple of thesis why I think these 2 programs from Tom Dickson are amazing. just to point out one very small part: the music editing of Rika's free(used only 2 songs) is genius!!
 

yyyskate

Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
about the SP Danni G choreoed for Alena K, one could focus just on her upper body (head, neck, torso, arm etc. ) choreo, there is not much choreographic intention at all (and a couple of isolated awkwardness), comparing to e.g. Rika's last season's programs (and not just Rika's)
 

WeakAnkles

Record Breaker
Joined
Aug 1, 2011
Just a brief pause in the thread here to list all the choreographers mentioned so far (in order of "appearance"):

Jeremy Abbott
Robin Cousins
Elladj Balde
Adam Rippon
Adam Solya
John Kerr
Yuka Sato
Karen Chen
Benjamin Agosto
Josh Farris
Jeff Buttle
Shae-Lynn Bourne
Karine Arribert-Narce
Mark Pillay
Lance Vipond
Kenji Miyamoto
John Zimmerman, Silvia Fontana
Julie Marcotte
Carol Lane
Olga Glinka
Daniil Gleyhengauz
Philip Mills
Jorma Uotinen
Nikolai Morozov
Roman Haguenauer
Benoit Richaud
David Wilson
Tom Dickson
 
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