The development and nurturing of young athletes is a critical component for success when working with any of my skaters. Having the opportunity to take skaters from their beginnings all the way through their career is one of the most rewarding aspects of choreographing and coaching these athletes.
Join me now as we chronical a journey with some fun photos that will help us capture the process of each skater’s development below.
Our first skater is Leah Kosaka, No Test, who has been working with me for almost a year and one-half. Even though she is a young skater, I am able to use the same process I incorporated with Tatsuki Machida, World Silver Medalist, with Leah because I know her mentality, as a Japanese skater, is the same as Tatsuki’s on a cultural basis. I spend a lot of time with my young skaters talking about the purity of a circle and how we skate on edges to show beautiful carvings on the ice. I always begin the choreographic journey using classical music programs to train not only their ear but to also instill the importance of pure classical lines. Leah has taken this to heart and is making great progress.
Now a Pre Juvenile competitor, Noelle Cheon, has been working with me for five years. How I love having the chance to grow and foster young skaters. Noelle has developed a keen instinct to my way of working. She has incorporated these details into her skating which has assisted her to move from a non-qualified skater to a competitive skater as she moved up to higher levels. She is an old soul who has a very serious approach always skating with clean turns, beautiful lines and musicality. As Noelle and I work together I feel she has the same approach and attitude to skating that I have.
And now we move onto Chloe Li, Intermediate lady, whom I have been teaching for five years. I clearly remember Chloe moving through the same process and stages that Leah and Noelle are in right now. Developing a pure classical skater who can perform any style of music is one of my primary foci. Although all three of these girls study ballet, Chloe has the quality and finish of a Junior or Senior lady. I appreciate how she can present a program in an artistic manner and not just a technical one.
Next we have Sophie Abrams, Junior lady, whom I just acquired this season from Rafael and Vera Arutunian. When they sent me the video of Sophie, I immediately thought that this a skater who has had strong ballet training. We worked together capitalizing on this experience to create her new program. Once we started choreographing I realized she not only had ballet training but she had the best training possible from the School of American Ballet in NYC. This is the New York City Ballet’s feeder school. I knew I wanted to create her program using my favorite Balanchine ballet, Serenade for Sophie. The best part of the process was that we spoke the same language and the choreography was so inspiring. It was Sophie’s solid classical base that enabled me to work with her in the same way as if I had raised her from the ground up.
Somewhere over the rainbow we find hidden treasures and if we are lucky, we will be able to create with these wonderful skaters. Angela Wang, Senior lady whom I am now in my second season with, has everything a choreographer could possibly hope for in an elite skater. She possesses a classic body line for figure skating, a strong technical background, beautiful lines and musicality, and a whimsical uncluttered softness that takes your breath away. When I choreograph with Angela I feel like I have Michelle Kwan in my midst.
And finally, we come to Ashley Wagner whom I worked with, along with John Nicks, over three seasons as she earned two National Championship titles. This was a challenging process for us as I had to make it appear that Ashley had years of classical ballet training to present my Black Swan program in an authentic manner. Ashley is the consummate athlete and student. Her voracious appetite for detail helped this choreography come to fruition. I was very happy and proud of the end product and how beautifully she skated the Black Swan.
I have used the same formula for singles, pairs, and dance over the years to try to bring meaningful programs that enlighten and inspire. I am hopeful some of my programs have touched and encouraged my readers from around the world.
While at the recent 2017 Southwest Pacific Regionals, I thought that sharing the developmental stories of some of my skaters at various levels might make an interesting read. It was inspiring to watch so many of my programs from different skaters. I am very proud of all of my students and their accomplishments at Southwest Pacifics, Upper Great Lakes, South Atlantics, Central Pacifics, and Southwesterns this season.
The session is over and the Zamboni is coming out.