Interview(s) with Tom Dickson

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sylvia, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    I stumbled across this recent (Feb. 2013) interview with Tom Dickson - lots of interesting stuff!
    http://everythingfigureskating.com/members/blog/2013/02/20/interview-with-tom-dickson/
    Excerpts:
  2. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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  3. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Sylvia! I loved Ota's short program back in 2004 when she won Four Continents, but I'd forgotten Dickson choreographed it. Sacrilege, I know. That ftwk sequence was just :kickass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y1pEqiKTmk
  4. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    I am surprised he put 8 seasons among his fav list. As much as I love Jeremy's 2009 lp, this Tango just isnt as original as, say, the Brazilian program. But then Jeremy skated it clean enough times to enjoy the piece though
  5. elka_sk8

    elka_sk8 Well-Known Member

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    Tom Dickson is such a good choreographer. Matt Savoie's Mission program and Yukina Ota's to Picasso's Dance are two of my favorite programs ever. Savoie's short that year (or the season before?) was also wicked good, I'm blanking on the music.
  6. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Pink Bitch

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    Adagio for Strings. :swoon: possibly my favorite SP of all time. :)
  7. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    I'd like to add that his wife, Catarina Lindgren, is also a very good choreographer. I love her choreography for Jeremy's 2009 sp. It was so beautiful. In fact, IMHO, that 2009 US nationals short was the best short Jeremy has ever skated, ever
  8. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    I absolutely love the Braziliam program! I miss Ryan.
  9. dinakt

    dinakt Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Sylvia.
    I am in love with the man. I think this interview should be compulsory reading. This, and Brunner's recent interview. These are people who define the meaning of artistic side of skating.
    And this
    how does one train an artist in a sport that doesn’t completely know it’s an art form
    is what often drives me bonkers about the judging.
    ...but I could quote and quote. Brilliant stuff.
  10. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    Yes, thanks Sylvia, very much appreciated. I think the 2010 manleywoman interview with Tom Dickson is classic, timely and very informative. I've actually posted in several threads on FSU excerpts from Tom's discussion with manleywoman about the importance of practicing figures. He speaks with such enlightenment about the challenges and opportunities that figures mastery offers choreographically, especially in today's difficult IJS environment.


    ETA:

    In the Everything Skating interview, Ross Miner, Alexander Johnson, and now Adam Rippon weren't mentioned in the introduction as some of the top skaters for whom Tom has created choreography (although Alex is discussed in the Q&A section since Tom is also his coach).


    Tom Dickson: "I’m afraid that if John Curry could see today what is passing for world class skating….he would be horrified!"

    :respec: :(


    BTW, dinakt, what "Brunner interview" are you referring to?
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  11. dinakt

    dinakt Well-Known Member

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  12. dinakt

    dinakt Well-Known Member

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    I very respectfully disagree; I do not think cleanliness is an issue here ( though of course when it's clean it's possible to keep exact timings as with this complexity missing a cue is brutal). "Eight Seasons" to me is one of the best examples of music- to- movement that I've seen.
    I am struggling at the moment trying to verbalize what I see, thus the multiple posts in multiple threads.
    But as few examples:
    0:55- 1:15: http://youtu.be/R01yT7n8_qQ
    The variety and originality of angular movements to angular music, coupled with absolutely rhythmic execution. It's the smaller movements that often "get" me- I think when the program came out , I rewatched 1:02- 1:10; 1:26-1:28, 3:00- 3:23 and of course the step sequence at 3:52- 4:20 a dozen times looking only at Jeremy's feet. It's also the blend of tango and classical music which is paired with the blend of tango movement ( so many quotes from tango movement http://youtu.be/oB-RS000NLs) and a freer interpretation ( much like Gidon Kremer did).
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  13. spikydurian

    spikydurian New Member

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    Interesting to hear from one of the best-known coach and choreographer.

    Thank god he's dead - don't have to suffer the horror.:p
  14. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

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    I remember when I first saw the Eight Seasons program at Liberty (summer 2008) I was immediately struck by the contrast of the string sections (second and fourth segments) and the piano sections (first and middle segments). Compare the slow and delicate circular step sequence, skated to the softer and slower piano music, and the faster and more angular straightline steps skated to the characteristic tango music, and observe how the movements match the character of the music. The contrast also plays on the ear, as reflected in the different sound of piano and strings (I think of it as points versus lines). It is a program that contrasts spring and autumn, summer and winter, round and angular, slow and fast, and clearly displays the skater's ability to master and present different tempos and "seasons." (It's no accident the program has 4 segments.)
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  15. shine

    shine Well-Known Member

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    I loved Eight Season, but I ADORED Masquerade Waltz...maybe partly because it was this program that made me an avid Abbott convert. Despite all the remarkable programs Jeremy has had, I always wished he'd go back to Tom Dickson. All the programs they did together were just so musically "organic" and nothing was quite the same ever since. He could've been Tom's "muse", much like the way Buttle was to David Wilson, or Lambiel to Salome Brunner.

    I agree with jlai re: his 2009 SP at US Nationals - that skate was bigger than life and the program such a masterpiece.

    This is an interview that manleywoman did with Tom Dickson a few years ago where he discusses some of his notable students like Savoie and Abbott, as well as his approach to choreography and artistic vision. It was such an enlightening/eye opening interview and I think it's worth revisiting: http://www.manleywoman.com/episode-36-tom-dickson/

    Yukina Ota is my eternal heartbreak :(
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  16. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear New Member

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    I just love love love his choreography. I wish that Abbott would return to him too, or that Takahashi would work with him. He's seriously underrated internationally compared to other choreographers.
  17. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    Kurt Browning once said of Tom Dickson that his programs (or choreography) aren't for everyone.

    Re: Eight Seasons. I think doing a Tango after Jeremy's Waltz the previous year came across as "more of the same", stylistically. At least the approach to the program seemed the same. Besides, there were several tangos among top men during 08-09 season, and by the time the season was over, Tomas Verner's Tango at worlds, with his great variety in steps and transitions along with his showmanship -- competed successfully for my attention.

    BTW, Masquerade Waltz is one of my all-time favs of Jeremy's.
  18. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Kurt Browning said while commentating during Jeremy's Eight Seasons performance at 2008 GPF, that Tom Dickson's choreography is not for every skater, because it's challenging. IOW, Kurt likely meant that not every skater has the facility to perform the kind of choreography Dickson creates. Whether that's true or not, it is true that Dickson challenges skaters to practice figures and to explore their creativity.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  19. dinakt

    dinakt Well-Known Member

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    Love your description. I never connected 4 Seasons and 4 segments of the program. Would have to rewatch with that in mind.
  20. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

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    There are times I wish more skaters would use Dickson, and then other times when I'm glad he's not overused. He has truly created some gems, and I'm excited to see Adam working with him for his new program.
    ioana and (deleted member) like this.
  21. elka_sk8

    elka_sk8 Well-Known Member

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    Yes that's the one, thank you! Loved it. :swoon:

    Garden Kitty, ITA.
  22. reut

    reut Active Member

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    Thank you for posting this interview. I enjoyed reading it immensely.
    I agree with what he says in so many aspects, we definitely share the same point of view on how figure skating should develop.

    I am embarrassed to admit that I almost don't know his works. He mentions there a few and I will check them. Are there any other programs, apart those mentioned in the interview or in this thread, some of you would recommend me to check? I'd appreciate the links too (though I'm not banned in YouTube :D). I think, maybe this way some more readers will watch them too. ;)
  23. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    Firstly...
    Ryan Jahnke's 2004 Nationals "Brazilian" FS (is there a better performance of this program from that season than this one?): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbzfIXTm0Mw

    ETA to reut: I misread your "apart those mentioned in the interview"... will try and find links to other memorable (for me) Dickson programs later.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  24. Impromptu

    Impromptu Well-Known Member

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    He's done some ice dance choreography too, but it's really hard to find videos...

    Jane Summersett/Todd Gilles - Waltz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l0L8fHtoZk (they were skating this better by the end of the season)

    He also did several programs for Trina Pratt & Todd Gilles
  25. joeperryfan

    joeperryfan Well-Known Member

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    I feel very tempted to just pop in here to say that Tom Dickson is awesome but I do have a question, has he ever worked with harder sounding music, perhaps something with electric guitars? Maybe some darker themed routine? There's always a pleasant softness to his programs, I guess I'm looking for something a little more explosive because i think he'd be able to still make it tasteful.

    I'd actually like to see that!
  26. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    I know the Shibs have gotten some programs from Tom Dickson, too, while they were in CO 2005-2007. Also did Emily Samuelson/Todd Gilles' programs (I *think* he did both of them) the one season they skated together (2011-2012).
  27. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    His style isn't angsty, but I'm not sure how to get more genuinely darker than "Adagio for Strings," especially with its association in the US with the deaths of FDR and JFK.
  28. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

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    The free dance for Summersett/Gilles (posted by Impromptu above) used music from Ravel's La Valse. It's the darkest music I've heard in ice dance. You can look the music up on wikipedia about its meaning. He also choreographed a free dance for Piper Gilles/Zach Donohue using several Hitchcock movie soundtracks, including Vertigo, by Bernard Hermann. That's pretty dark, too. He did a free skate for Drew Meekins and partner (don't remember her name) using the soundtrack of On the River Front, which is heavy and dramatic. I also remember a Tango short program for Agnes Zawadzki in 2009-2010 (I think) that is as non-girly as anything and somewhat "dark."

    But it's nearly impossible to find the videos of these programs. If you have subscription to Ice Network you can dig them out of US Nationals in the previous years.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  29. shan

    shan Well-Known Member

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    I really liked Summersett/Gilles "La Valse" Fd. The only 2 versions I've seen are the one linked above and on IN 2008 Nationals. He also choreographed their 2009 FD to La Strada.
  30. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    New interview! http://skateguard1.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/interview-with-tom-dickson.html
    Excerpt:
  31. Dr.Siouxs

    Dr.Siouxs Well-Known Member

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    Wonderful. Tom is one of the most fascinating individuals in the skating world and a rock star of a choreographer. :respec: He was no doubt a favorite of Carlo Fassi's. :D
  32. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for sharing that, Sylvia. Excellent interview. :encore: Matt Savoie, naturally!!! :cheer: Wish he'd been able to overcome his nerves and shyness more, but still.

    Love this quote.
    Some of his comments on music remind me of Manleywoman's interview with Ricky Harris. Harris talked about how she would make her skaters listen to the music and then come up with a story--before they even got on the ice to start choreographing a program. LISTENING is totally what it's all about.
  33. shine

    shine Well-Known Member

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    Tom's definitely one of the most if not the most fascinating and insightful skating choreographer there is!
  34. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    As do I!
    I've been a member of the "Tom Dickson Appreciation Society" for many years.
    shan and (deleted member) like this.
  35. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    I think there are way more than a handful of skaters who can perform a piece without a triple jump -- or any jump, for that matter -- and make it compelling. A number of them aren't televised and don't make it up the ranks precisely because they struggle with triples. I think there are more among the Men now than the Ladies, but I would happily watch triple-less or jump-less programs by Chan, both Tens, Takahashi, Kozuka, Machida, Yan, Abbott, Brown, Ge, Pfeifer, Gachinski, Firus, Gosselin, Verner, Paul Poirier (who skated Junior singles), and one of the young Canadian men I saw at BC Summerskate whose name I don't remember, and I've seen exhibition programs by Plushenko, some of which don't emphasize jumps at all, that blow away anything I've ever seen him do in competition.
  36. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. The ability to skate complex, musical, artistically interesting programs, and the ability to execute triple jumps are not highly correlated.

    Of course, some excellent skaters such as those you named above are able to do both, which only helps them when competing against those who can only do one or the other.

    There is room in elite sport for skaters who excel at jumping and are just adequate at best at all the other stuff.

    I wish there were a place to reward skaters who have it in them to excel at everything else but can't do the jumps. As is, singles skaters are likely to quit by novice or junior level when they can't keep up jumpwise, and fail to maximize their skating and performing potential even if that potential is significant.

    Ice dancers can reach elite levels with everything else except jumps, but only if they can find an appropriate partner.
  37. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. If jumps were taken out, I wouldn't bother to watch most of the skaters on you list. If we're talking about compelling performance, nearly every skater on that list (save a couple) would be crossed off by me. To each her own I guess.

    The fundamental problem is that performance can't be judged fairly and reliably. If figure skating hasn't solved the proble in 50 years, it's not going to happen in the next 10, baby!
  38. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    I wish there were a place where the PCS scores for the skaters who are just adequate at all of the other stuff and great at jumps aren't rewarded as if what they do is acceptable as average, and that the scores for the skaters who are great at both reflected the steep difficulty curve in getting there. It's not linear.
  39. spikydurian

    spikydurian New Member

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    I agree. Wish there are 'competitions for such skaters'. Isnt' the professional skating much like this? There are some gorgeous skaters who are very 'artistic' but who will never make it to the elite team because they lack the hard jumps.