In a perfect world choreographers would have the luxury of having all of their skaters in their building all of the time to work on their creations. This type of consistent choreographic coaching and practice allows skaters to grow without feeling rushed because they have to get on a plane to jet off to another rink somewhere. Unfortunately, most elite skaters train in not only a different state, but many times a different country than their choreographers.
In the ballet world we may perform Romeo & Juliet, for example, over 30 times in one season. During the first 10 or so performances we feel like we are still getting to understand our character trying to incorporate all of the nuances and intricate choreography to improve each performance. Also, we usually have the choreographer right there to critique and rehearse the ballet constantly during its run.
In skating, a skater may perform their programs 4 to 7 times in a season and then the program is gone forever. This creates a compelling reason for skaters to keep a program for two seasons if the choreography still moves the skater, judges, audience and was successful in the competition arena.
The benefits of working with a choreographer over time brings a program to a higher level of maturity and sophistication. It also helps enhance the beauty of the skating and the character of the program. In a previous blog, I wrote about Angela Wang’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” short program and how it moves me and clearly engages the viewing audience. We achieved this level of success because we had the opportunity to continually work together over these two seasons. This allowed me to guide Angela in her quest of excellence and inspiration. In the 2018 U.S. Championships, Angela placed 4th in the Senior ladies short program. Watch Program
During the three years that I worked with Tatsuki Machida, 2014 World Silver medalist, we were able to evolve his skating skills, interpretation of the music and refine the nuances of his skating. I had a vision and plan for where I wanted to go with Tatsuki. He was able to trust me to guide him. The East of Eden short program tribute to Michelle Kwan was pure and uncluttered, calm and serene while his Symphony #9 long the next season was dynamic and exciting, explosive and celebratory. The journey was an exciting one. I still wish we could have had a few more seasons together. Watch Program
Beauty and refinement are how I viewed Ashley Wagner the year of her Black Swan National title in 2013. She was driven to greatness by a desire to be viewed and respected as a top lady in the world. It was the continuation of my journey for her which began with Somewhere in Time the prior season. Pure classical line, subtle musicality, and appropriate facial expression were my focus for that season. Being able to work with her consistently made the choreography grow to new heights that would not have been possible without being in the same building 4 or 5 times each week. Watch Program
We all saw a lot of wonderful skating last week in San Jose and I hope it inspired all of you as it has me.
The session is over and the Zamboni is coming out.