Archive for the ‘sandra bezic’ Tag

A Delicious Morsel of Camp Art: “Carmen on Ice”

As I pine for the Vancouver Games, a recent date with youtube.com nudged a series of oh-so-relevant videos into my gaydar (think two Olympic “Battles”), like a gift from Baby Jesus. So, take a seat at jcm’s table, as I dish up some classic camp, with a generous side of masterful interpretive skating…dare I say “Art”?

But, for a moment, I digress. The opera Carmen has a storied relationship with figure skating. The score has been used in programs by the likes of Curry, Fratianne, Witt, Thomas, Bestemianova & Bukin, Petrenko, Krylova & Ovsyannikov, Navka & Kostomarov, Yagudin, Kwan, Plushenko, Slutskaya, Cohen, Suguri, Lysacek, Asada, Nagasu…and that’s just the short list! It’s the program that most skating fanatics prayer be hung up for a good decade or two, or better yet retired, and yet each new generation can’t resist it. So, we stomach it. Fortunately, Nagasu’s most recent take on it was more Opéra-Comique: playful and coquettish, and less about the “sexy.” (Whew…as she’s only 16!)

Although I surely knew about the film Carmen on Ice (1989) back in the day, I somehow forgot about it, and am not even sure if I ever saw it. The made-for-tv figure skating movie features the duo of Katarina Witt & Brian Boitano in their oft-billed faux “straight”/hawt package…and throws in Brian Orser for good measure. All three won Primetime Emmy’s for “Outstanding Performance in Classical Music/Dance Programming.”

They really do LOOK their parts: Witt smoldering and fiery, Boitano (Don José) brooding and even dreamy at times, and Orser (Escamillo) showing great bravado. Allowing for the forgiveness factor that these are skaters, not “actors”, the acting ranges from acceptable, to quite good in select moments. Other than perhaps Kim Yu-Na, or Oksana Baiul (in her prime), and maybe Sasha Cohen, I can’t imagine another female skater meeting as many of the requirements of this role. Boitano is a wooden actor, but skates beautifully, and with romantic strength throughout. Orser really lights up his scenes. Fratianne Olympic gold spoiler Anett Pötzsch (Witt’s sister-in-law) even makes a cameo as Mercédès. German actor Otto Retzer is quite sexy as Zuniga, but his skates proove to be rather pointless.

I prefer the more playful moments (most of the links highlighted below). Not surprisingly, the solo skating scenes are the strongest, but the more intimate moments, which require a strong connection don’t ring as true or conjure up much heat, as none of these principals were pairs skaters or ice dancers (and are gay, gay, gay). The production values are actually quite high, especially for a skating production.

However, I would have preferred a more pared-down approach, with minimal sets, so the pure skating could emerge as the primary mode of expression, rather than get lost in what feels like it’s trying too hard to be a legit movie. In this same vein, the director uses too many close-ups throughout, which fall rather flat, as they don’t play to their strengths, or allow us to see the choreography, edging or footwork.

My favorite current tv skating commentator Sandra Bezic offers some memorable choreographic touches. Interestingly, most of the sets are actual historic locations in Seville (and Berlin), and many of the Corp/Extras are locals.

My Recommended Highlights


The entire film is broken down into 10 youtube.com videos. The following are my favs, for either their camp or artistic value. You can easily link to all the other videos on youtube.com. Y’all enjoy now!

Près des remparts de Séville, Witt & Boitano
Although at first contrived, this rope dance won me over, and is really rather inventive. It’s an interesting way to allow the skating to tell the story.

Lillas Pastias & Toreador Song, Witt & Orser
Orser delivers loads of testosterone here, and it’s surprisingly convincing and entertaining.

Don José & Escamillo Confrontation, Boitano & Orser
Melodrama at its best. The boys go at it! Some priceless facial expressions.

Parade & White Dance, Corps, Orser & Witt
The “White Dance” with Witt & Orser is quite beautiful. They have a bit more chemistry than Witt & Boitano, perhaps because they’re not trying so darn hard.

Interviews
I love that Orser refers to his character as “Escamilio”. Perhaps that’s his character’s guido nickname!?

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The Best of Spokane: Buttercups, Fizzles & Knives

There’s SO much to say about the past two weekends of US Nationals: triumphs, let-downs, new faces, and the like. Here’s a saucy snapshot of less obvious highlights that I’ll take away from Spokane, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Lutz is to Flutz as Twizzles are to…


jcm’s newly coined term: “fizzles” = botched twizzles.

What a crime that the U.S. Olympic Ice Dance Team selection essentially came down to this element, and that it trumped what the discipline should really be about…connection, interpretation, and expression! Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre’s fourth place finish (likely thanks to fizzles) was heartbreaking. I fear that this over-valued element will be a deal breaker in Vancouver too.

Skaters, Skaters, Skaters


Tiger Beat Award: Mark Ladwig. Pushing aside Bommentre…he’s my new skating crush du jour. Evora & Ladwig’s unexpected win and emotional reaction also raised his temperature on my hawtness meter.

Most promise: Christine Gao: I agree, “Gao” = “Wow”; Armin Mahbanoozadeh: grace, style, and still memorable despite a nagging hip injury; Yankowskas & Couglin: star quality, great expression and performance TO the audience.

Most Blades of Glory: Ben Agosto’s FD costume. Whew!? What are they thinking? Trying WAY too hard to be a Ruskie!

Sentimental favorites prooved they were just that (this time): Bradley, Navarro & Bommentre, Cohen, and Inoue & Baldwin ALL just missed the podium or Olympic Team selection.

Interesting program discovery: Bebe Liang’s LP, made up of Dvorak, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff selections. It was refreshing, as I hadn’t seen it all season. It was also perfectly suited to her: high energy, driven, and rhythmic. Although she gave a good performance, too bad she didn’t nail it. Will she have her moment?

Skating Great who went largely unnoticed: Lisa-Marie Allen, four-time Nationals’ medalist was the Technical Specialist.

Off-ice couples:
Out: Tanith & Evan
In: Amanda Evora & Jeremy Barrett (both earned a ticket to Vancouver!)
(Rumored) In: Tanith & Charlie (of Marlie), Nastia Liukin & Evan

From the Boards: Coaches


Most welcome new presence: Yuka Sato & Jason Dungjen. They both have a very calm and grounding presence for Jeremy, and the TV audience. I love her, and Jason has never looked better.

In: Jim Peterson. His visible emotion from the boards was deeply moving. His commitment to the sport and his teams is so evident in these reactions, AND in the result, as both U.S. Olympic pairs teams are his (and Lyndon Johnston’s)!

Out: Dalilah Sappenfield. In 2008 she had the first place novice, junior, and senior pairs. I’m sure she’ll reign again, but had a much lower profile this year.

Not so Gaga


Biggest missed opportunity (aside from Navarro & Bommentre’s already mentioned woes): Johnny could have come out as Top in his rivalry with Evan, and wrestled away the silver. Evan opened the door, and Johnny closed it. No, he likely couldn’t have beaten Jeremy here, but this time Evan was not unbeatable.

Most hootchie: Trina Pratt & Chris Obzansky. Their country OD, which oooozed Texan sexy (and bust!), made me both swoon AND gag just a little. They are Shpilband protégés, and show real promise.

It sucks to be them: Castile & Okolski. Their LP, although carried over from last season, was very beautiful and satisfying. It’s so sad their success has been sidelined by her injuries. I hope they make a comeback, if they stick with competitive skating at least another season.

Most underrated achievement: Inoue & Baldwin garnering a bronze medal, at ages 33 and 36, and with a throw triple axel! Like ’em or not, that’s astounding and worthy of note. Even though I’m not a fan, and cringed at John’s Plushy-esque gloat after Rena landed the 3ATh, I thought they were robbed of the silver.

Commentating & Public Opinion


Best quotes: “I keep saying, the sunshine that pours out of her…I wanna call her the buttercup of all time.” — Dick Button (about Mirai); “Such a precarious relationship between skater and ice...you’ve got knives on your feet…and (try to) make something impossible look easy.” — Scott Hamilton (during Sasha’s warm-up)

Village Idiot Award: Dick Button. Whew…he’s totally lost me. As a friend said, “he’s becoming a caricature of himself”. And, I used to really hang on his words.

Damned by faint praise: Emily Hughes (AGAIN!). In the old days Dick Button would repeatedly talk about “her great smile” (instead of any actual skating attributes.) Well, here are some new doozies used to describe her: “The victory is in being here.”, “She really worked towards a challenge, and you have to give that credit.”, “(She’s) the photo-negative (of Czisny.)”, “They (Hugheses) all skate for the right reasons, just because they love it.” WTF? You know she wants to win just as much as the other gurlz.

Most overlooked: Jeremy Barrett. The commentator’s focus was almost solely on Caydee Denney. YES, she is a sensational competitor and great for this sport, but he matched her element by element, skill by skill, and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Blatant commentator favoritism: Nagasu, Davis & White, Navarro & Bommentre, and Bradley were given the benefit of the doubt, while Flatt, Weir, and Inoue & Baldwin’s achievements were downplayed. It was pretty shameless. Flatt’s win felt like a let down, because of the way it was portrayed, following Nagasu.

Most tired opinion in the blogosphere: (to paraphrase) “I should have known to expect this from Sasha.” Sure, some may consider what she did brave, others foolish, but either way, as Sandra Bezic put it, you can’t expect a fairy tale comeback at Nationals without some competitive preparation beforehand. Even Super-Evgeni had Rostelcom Cup before Russian Nationals. What she did in the SP was amazing, and she should be lauded for doing as well as she did.

My Nationals’ podium predictions: I was 6 for 12 (exact placements), and 10 for 12 (correct skaters on podium). Meh! But, not too bad. The Cohen/Nagasu wildcards, and McBru meltdowns were impossible to foresee. ALL my wish list items were met, except the last one. Ah well…you can’t have everything!

Next up…Vancouver!!!