Archive for the ‘pang & tong’ Tag
Major Universal Sports/Comcast Fail!
The Pairs LP started airing before my scheduled TiVo recording even began, discluding the entire third-to-last group, and ALL but the last two Men’s SPs were covered up by a Russian news program. WTF!? A Plushy conspiracy? Thank god this didn’t happen with my Olympics recordings, but it still has me fuming. Perhaps it’s my local cable providers’ fault. Whosever it is, off with their heads!
Berton & Hotarek: I don’t disagree with Tony Wheeler, an excellent (newish?) skating blogger (also from Ohio…must be somethin’ in the water). This italian team is very promising, delivering one of the finest short programs, and deserving notice here. Next step: upgrade to a triple twist. How lovely too to see John Zimmerman on their coaching team. (He and Shae-Lynn should have won AT LEAST the first night of “Thin Ice”!)
Evora & Ladwig (Maranda): Her expressive face really sells this couple. She also has beautiful extension, and their program has a gentle, and sincere loving quality…well, it is “Love Actually.” Their footwork and final lift feels a bit slow, but some of that could be attributable to camera angle/perception.
Denney & Barrett (Barney): Great speed and attack. This is definitely the team we’ve grown to love from the past two Nationals! Her triple toe is a bit Tara (ie: rollerskater-ey, fast but low), BUT she nails it, unlike in Vancouver. They leap to 6th, and with a personal best!!! Wow, with this performance, and Evora & Ladwig’s great showing, I have a flash of irrational hope that they might they climb high enough to regain 3 berths.
Savchenko & Szolkowy (Szolchenko – 3rd): Not inspired, but acceptable. He doubles his triple toe, and their spin unison is off, but it keeps their placement high enough to pretty much be a sure thing for the podium, and not out of reach of gold, if Pang & Tong open the door. I wonder if his botched jumps this season are a confidence issue, or more one of some apathy creeping in.
As week of the Olympics launched, we were still treated to a barrage of continuing debate over Evan vs. Plushy. I did, however like this particular comment on the outcome: “Judges judge the beginning, middle, and end of the jumps, and although it (Plushy’s quad) was an amazing athletic feat, the GOEs reflects all three of these things.” (Excerpted from a Yamaguchi/Carruthers post-competition online chat.) BTW, I was pleased to her commentator Susie Wynne briefly on Terri Gannon’s “FSR&P” show. I miss her!
Although I respect Evan’s apparent “good training,” it too has been discussed ad nauseum. Fine, so he trains well, and runs through his programs 3+ times a day, and does cardio every other day, and… I imagine this is an effort to try to drill it into viewer’s heads that figure skating is actually HARD WORK! Well, when you look at a skater like Lambiel doing his Olympic ice run through, perhaps some of the other skaters do need to take note of Evan’s training. He doesn’t attempt or land a single jump in this run through.
Ice “Prancers”: OD Top Four
As Tracy Wilson said, ice dancing used to be mocked as ice prancing. Well, these days, with the degree of technical difficulty and artistic brilliance, that’s a less commonly held sentiment. Now, ice dancing is hipper than ever, particularly thanks to coaches Zoueva & Shpilband (“The House of Z&S”)…which embodies the best taste musically and choreographically, as well as peerless training.
The Original Dance event was VERY impressive. Not a single team that was aired made a substantial mistake, and I only witnessed a single fizzle from John Kerr (which was very minor). What a change from Torino. It’s likely because ice dancers are just more comfortable with the demands of the CoP now, whereas last time they were still adjusting and pushing themselves, apparently too far.
Domnina & Shabalin (DomShabs): Aside from ALL the controversy surrounding this “Aboriginal” program, it just didn’t technically or artistically stack up next to the programs that followed. The transitions appeared rough around the edges, and not of the highest difficulty. Their characterizations and interaction were über cutesy and clowny (I love me a good clown, in the right context!). I’m very surprised they didn’t make the easiest change to her costume under-color, from the controversial red to any other friggin’ color. At least some adjustments were made, thankfully including the removal of his brown face makeup. I wondered why Aboriginals would do an Eskimo kiss (their final move). Well, in 1982 Inuits (“Eskimo” is considered pejorative) were officially recognized as Canadian Aboriginals. BTW, where were their CD tribal Snuggies in the kiss ‘n cry this time?
Davis & White (Marlie): They were on fire, and threw all caution to the wind! Their twizzles were smokin’. This youtube sensation continues to draw in audiences (and more skating fans…please). It’s one of the few ice dances I find myself returning to again and again, because it’s so fun, infectious, and fresh. Good for them for crafting something that truly reflects the dance and culture it aims to revere.
Virtue & Moir (Voir): Perfection! They delivered flawless character, confidence, carriage, and edging. Their choreography was strongly linked to the music, down to flamenco head snaps, dress whips, and arm accents. The integration of their moves is astounding, true ice DANCING!
Belbin & Agosto (Belgosto): I wonder if they are wishing they had stayed with Z&S, as they seem to have the magic touch with the top teams, and are creating programs that are unique and unbeatable. This Moldavian folk dance (by Linichuk) felt emotionally junior. Their technique is so strong, a more sophisticated program would have landed them higher, I fear. They should have been placed in third for this dance, but with three points to make up, I felt it was unlikely they’d medal. I’m disappointed, but their program didn’t make me want to defend them as much as I otherwise would. I noticed Tanith say “it’s OK,” after the scores were posted. I can’t tell if she really is OK with it, or if she’s just resigned to being the forgotten team here. Frankly, I almost sensed that energy out there on the ice, that they knew it wasn’t their time. (Am I projecting?) We all knew that even if they skated great in the FD, they were up against the wrath and waning medals of Mother Russia.
jcm’s costuming thumbs-up: There was a lot to like here! Marlie’s Indian, elegant and perfectly suited to the program, with her Choli (beaded top), Lengha (split skirt) and his Sherwani (wedding jacket); Voir’s Flamenco, her red silk charmeuse dress and his waist-coat were romantic and lush. I couldn’t keep my eyes off them; Delobel & Schoenfelder’s (DelShoes) Can-Can, complete with tulle skirt for her and scarf, beret and vest for him, all with pink accents. Thumbs-down: (surprise!) DomShab’s “Aboriginal”, nuff said.
I’m battling a terrible cold and sore throat. Staying up past midnight nightly watching these Games likely hasn’t helped. Why, oh why is the left coast on such a delay? More advertising dollars for NBC? Pathetic! I’m sure a lot of potential viewers drifted away because of this poor decision.
When I sat down to watch the opening, all I could think of was how unlucky Vancouver was to have to follow Beijing. Beijing spent over $300+ million, and have a culture that is already primed to partake in such a large-scale, perfect orchestration of the masses. However, I respected Canada’s aim to keep it less expensive (even if that still meant a walloping $30+ million). After all, the Olympics are important for national pride, and international athletic competition and camaraderie, but it shouldn’t replace feeding mouths and rebuilding cities.
“We Are the World”…again, REALLY? At least J-Hud was in the mix, making it a bit more legit. In the initial, historic portion of the ceremony, I really appreciated the strong presence of the indigenous native nations, particularly the aboriginal people, and the nod to their cultural impact.
The greeter minions (see photo, in background), decked out head to toe in snowy white, looked like rather vacuous members of an Eskimo cult, or life-sized “It’s a Small World…” mascots, courtesy of Disney. One in particular caught my eye on multiple close-ups. He was highly entertaining, and had the infectious enthusiasm and gloriously bad dance moves of one of The Wiggles. I was reminded that believing you’re really good is half the battle in convincing others that you actually are. The female greeters also called to mind the great ole winter icon Suzy Chapstick.
In the parade of athletes, it was a pleasant surprise to see so many figure skaters bearing their flags: Kevin van der Perren (Belgium), Julia Sebestyen (Hungary), Alexandra Zaretsky (Israel), Song Chol Ri (N. Korea), and medal contender Stéphane Lambiel (Switzerland)! NOONE waved their flag with more fey elegance than Stéphane. I was struck by some of the more memorable athlete names: Hubert von Hohenlohe (sounds like a drunk ‘n merry Austrian prince), and Bjoergvin Bjoergvinsson (what were his parents thinking?)!
K.D. Lang was channeling Wayne Newton. She sounded fantastic singing Leonard Cohen’s (unfortunately overdone) “Hallelujah.” Her voice is very well-preserved, after 25+ years as a recording artist. The digital video images projected on the floor were stunning, especially when a simulated school of orcas (spouting out their air holes) passed across the ocean surface. The artistic highlight of the ceremony was the aerial dance “Who Has Seen the Wind”, performed by Montreal’s Thomas Saulgrain, to Joni Mitchell’s acoustic recording of “Both Sides Now.” It was spiritually transcendent, filled with sincere wonder, and his journey reminded me a bit of Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince.”
The most compelling moment was the minute of silence, for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili (Team Georgia in photo, above right). How rare it is for a group of that enormity to share in silence, and what a reminder it was that modern society works far to hard to fill up all the still or quiet moments in life. Silent meditation is so rife with meaning…as much or more so than activity. Near the end, Measha Brueggergosman did her best Jessye Norman impersonation, complete with protruding neck veins, unhinged jaw, and mother nature/goddess delivery. I enjoy her art, and appreciated her inclusion, but this presented her as an operatic caricature.
Overall, the host country did a great job of milking their budget, as it didn’t feel cheap at all, and the silly mishaps were easily forgiven.
My last post (focusing on skaters) offers a natural dovetail into this one. Especially for those of you who haven’t yet seen much/any of the ’09-‘10 season events to date (Grand Prix, as well as earlier Nebelhorn, Finlandia, or Liberty), or don’t feel skilled at identifying stand-outs, this serves as a short-list to acquaint you with the best programs. It’s impossible to completely separate out the skater or performance as a factor, but that isn’t the focus here. Also, these aren’t podium predictions, but they are in order of preference.
I’m covering only competitive programs, not exhibitions, and am skipping Compulsory Ice Dances. The focus here is on music selection and choreography (transitions, pacing, movement, ice coverage). I’m most drawn to programs that have a dramatic arc, musical contrast, or a strong emotional impact or levity. Here is one interesting look at the choreographic process, or evolution of a program.
Although fresh music selections were preferred, some tried-and-true selections still made the cut, because I love them so, or because their approach is new. For example, no Phantom of the Opera or Scheherazade programs were selected, and most latin/flamenco numbers (Suzuki, Rochette, Cohen and Chan SPs, Lambiel LP, etc.) need to be tabled for a good decade, as that style is so overused. Also, I’m allergic to Russian folk tunes and country music, of which there are many in the Ice Dance OD. Good costumes supported the selections, but weren’t pivotal. David Wilson wins here, with eight programs included, and Lori Nichol a close second, with five. Do they ever sleep?
1) Adam Rippon: Dear Father, from Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Neil Diamond (Choreo: David Wilson)
2) Evan Lysacek: Firebird, by Stravinsky (Choreo: Lori Nichol)
3) Stéphane Lambiel: William Tell Overture, by Rossini (Choreo: Salomé Brunner)
1) Jeremy Abbott: Symphony No. 3 in C minor (Organ Symphony), by Saint-Saëns (Choreo: Pasquale Camerlengo) – my overall season favorite
2) Jeffrey Buttle: Eclogue, by Finzi (Choreo: David Wilson) – why’d he retire!@#$
3) Nobunari Oda: Charlie Chaplin (Choreo: Nikolai Morozov)
1) Kim Yu-Na: Concerto in F, by Gershwin (Choreo: David Wilson)
2) Akiko Suzuki: West Side Story, by Bernstein (Choreo: Shae-Lynn Bourne)
3) Joanie Rochette: Samson and Delilah, by Saint-Saëns (Lori Nichol)
1) Pang & Tong: Le Pêcheurs de Perles, by Bizet (Choreo: Nicolai Morozov)
2) Shen & Zhao: Who Wants to Live Forever, by Queen (Choreo: Lori Nichol)
3) Langlois & Hay: Fascination (Choreo: David Wilson)
1) Shen & Zhao: Adagio, by Albinoni (Choreo: Lori Nichol)
2) Dube & Davison: The Way We Were, by Hamlisch (Choreo: Wilson)
3) Pang & Tong: Impossible Dream, by Hisaishi (Choreo: Bourne, Wilson)
+) Savchenko & Szolkowy: Out of Africa, by John Barry (Choreo: Ingo Steuer) updated 11.2.09!
Ice Dance OD:
Ice Dance FD:
1) Virtue & Moir: Symphony No. 5, by Mahler (Choreo: Zueva, Shpilband)
2) Faiella & Scali: Gli Emigranti, by Rota (C: Paola Mezzadri, Ludmila Vlasova)
3) Belbin & Agosto: Ave Maria / Amen, by Caccini / Rossini (C: Natalia Linichuk)
Neither Domnina & Shabalin’s, nor Delobel & Schoenfelder’s programs were considered for this, since both have yet to perform their new programs in intl. competition (if you find videos, please share them). It was difficult to leave out Ashley Wagner’s (Polovtsian Dances) and Sasha Cohen’s (Moonlight Sonata) LPs, and Jeremy Abbott’s (Beatles) SP! On the flip side, there is a bit of a drought of memorable programs among the ladies’ SPs.
Are there any glaring omissions, or your favorites that I overlooked?