Phillip Mills: "Ashley Wagner and I have decided to go in different directions"

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sylvia, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    Phil Hersh tweeted earlier this afternoon:
    "Given the sports news of the day, this is of minor consequence, but here is how choreographer Phillip Mills explained his split from @ashwagner10":

    ETA: This news was originally posted in the "What strategy should Ashley Wagner pursue for the Olympic year?" thread in the Trash Can forum by kwanette but I thought it merited its own thread in GSD.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  2. Jammers

    Jammers Well-Known Member

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    Gracie should go to Mills now that he's left Ashley.
  3. Jarrett

    Jarrett Well-Known Member

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    Mirai...... goooooooo please........
  4. Chris_E

    Chris_E Active Member

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    While I'm surprised of this news, I do wonder how Ashley will develop under a different choreographer. Phillip created great programs for her but I always felt there was something missing with the choreography. Sometimes missing the moment of the music. Maybe that was the way Ashley performed them but considering there really wasn't much change in her programs this year-besides jump layout-I can't image she changed any of his choreography.

    I'm excited to see what her programs will look like next year. Though I'm worried about a full coaching change if Mr. Nicks does retire.
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  5. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    It would be really odd for Mr Nicks to retire (again?) at the beginning of the Oly season, when he's got such a promising skater. I do think the statement by Mills is a bit....pointed. Who knows what went into the decision, but I hope Ashley is able to find someone who can give her good programs that emphasize her strengths the way that Mills' did.
  6. demetriosj

    demetriosj Well-Known Member

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    I believe Mill's statement is a lot of bs. Perhaps the Gold team was courtin' Mr. Mills previous to his decision? If so, that's really crappy....
  7. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    His comment seems to really be dissing Ashley without trying to diss her. Skaters change programs over the season all the time. He is paid handsomely and gives this choreography to Ashley. It is hers to do with as she pleases. She couldn't have changed it that much, just looking back at her first competitions proves that it hasn't evolved that much. I understand he doesn't want his name attached to something if it is going to be totally different from what he intended but there is no evidence that happened here. I am really confused by this and he didn't need to make this kind of statement. It will only look that much more odd if he ends up working with Ashley's big US competition (Mirai, Gold, etc.).
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  8. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    Having heard Mill's interview with Manleywoman, I'd say changing his programs is oneof his pet peeves, so not a diss to Ashley as he has made it clear what he dislikes.

    Over the season I do think that there were little things in Ashley's lp that got taken out though no major changes from the first one in Japan Open---though I wouldnt know what the original chor would look like
  9. Lacey

    Lacey Well-Known Member

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    Could it have been an issue of her wanting to loosen up his choreo to make it easier to try to get a 3/3 in, hmm, I'm making this up as I go along...but maybe he thought the program was more important than the jump content. I'm sorry he's going, as I loved his work for her.
  10. MR-FAN

    MR-FAN Kostner Softie

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    It didn't sound like he was talking about this year's programs. He's referring to their different views for the upcoming Olympics season. To me, it sounded like he wanted to create something great artistically while she wanted to go the safe route and focus of maximizing her points and doing something she's comfortable with.

    And I think it's great he'd rather not make money than cash a check for a program he knows will be watered down and won't represent his vision. Other great choreographers should follow suit, maybe then their reputation as a choreographer will reflect their true talents *Cough Lori Nichol Cough*
  11. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    I think it depends entirely on the creator. I once went to a panel discussion of three authors whose books were made into films. James Ellroy said of his "LA Confidential," I signed the contract, I cashed the check, and it's theirs. (He did sound pleased with the result, though,-- it was the 1997 version about which he spoke -- if somewhat surprised.) Dorothy Allison was far more protective of her book, "Bastard out of Carolina" -- not surprising, given the subject, which was at least somewhat autobiographical -- and Angelica Houston had to pursue her for quite a long time to even get her to consider it, and she had many conditions. (The third person wasn't very interesting, and I can't remember who he is or what he said.)

    I know its not exactly the same thing as choreography, because the original still stands, no matter how mis-representational the film is, but I've heard similar analogies among dance choreographers, some of whom are willing to cash the check and make concessions to the dancers who change the choreography to make it easier or more suitable.
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  12. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

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    When I heard Phillip Mills' interview on Manleywoman's podcast a while ago, I loved his fiery attitude. He said in the interview that he does not like to see his creation messed with too much, to the extent that he would quit working with some people who have no respect for the choreography. I got the sense that he takes his work seriously and views each program as a whole, coherent piece of art that should not be chopped up or watered down.

    Given today's judging system and the increasing demand for jump difficulty at the cost of everything else, people like Mills are becoming rarer all the time. It puts people who care something besides jumps in a difficult position.
  13. icellist

    icellist New Member

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    and here i thought Ashley was going to choose Mills as a coach after Nicks retired. And then get choreography from someone else.
  14. midori

    midori Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. So, perhaps Ashley's new coach is someone who cannot help tweaking choreography? Who will that be?
  15. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Active Member

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    Um, i dont get this. When a skater "buys" choreography from a choreographer, what makes the choreographer think that the skaters input or the coaches input is no longer relevant? Take Michelle Kwan. She completely reworked if you can loosely use that word the choreography that Christopher Dean did for Bolero. You dont see him crying about it. She also reworked a lot of Lori's choreography as she got more seasoned. She TOTALLY reworked Sarah K's choreography of her Olympic program in 2002 and you dont see any of them gridlocking Kwan out. This to me; this business of not altering the choreography from its original state is silly, immature and quite pompous of Phillip.

    This is music to my ears however because i personally believe that Phillips choreography was just not that great for Ashley. The transitions were not seamless and quite frankly there was a lot of stroking in her numbers that she paid for in her scores. The movements were at times disjointed and ACTUALLY the numbers looked BETTER as the season went on and modifications were made.

    As to suggestions or predictions, i dont have many. Whomever she goes too will display her the way they THINK they want her to look. I actually would like to see her with someone like Sarah Karahawra but she's so avante guarde and different that I think that Ashleys depth might not quite be able to handle her. Tarasova does generic choreography for most skaters except Mao so NO. Zueva really does kater to girly girl type of skaters and Ashley is more of a gritty powerful girl. I have a feeling that she's going to be calling Wilson or Nichol for help which i'm on the fence about. Neither of them will try and take her outside of her comfort zone too far in such an important year. I would lean more on the Wilson side of things than Lori just because i think his style is most similar to Phillip Mills of the two and most likely more easy for Ashley to get used too. A cool short program by Shae Lynn would be nice for her and something more traditional by Wilson for the free would be great as well. Just my 2 cents.
  16. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. Mills seemed to be trying his best to make it painfully obvious that he was dissing Ashley. :slinkaway No subtlety there. :slinkaway
  17. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    Really? I thought he threw a hissy fit? I could be misremembering but I thought he complained to one of the European skating magazines about her taking out all the intricate details and just doing crossovers and jumps.
  18. demetriosj

    demetriosj Well-Known Member

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    uh huh............
  19. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Active Member

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    Egads! nah... i don't like this combination. If anything, Zueva considering she works so closely with Oleg Epstein and He works with Gracie. After watching the WTT, i can see a growth in Gracie that lets me know she is somewhat paying attention to the need to really be aware of what the music is asking for emotionally. At the end of the day asking her to be some powerhouse emotionally however might be like asking a 3rd year high school French student to read an entire French news paper lol. I know that the analogy is drastic but Gracie is only on year 1 of being on the Sr. international circuit. She needs time. The timer on her oven is not necessarily set for Sochi!

    When i listen to Frank Carrol talk about how amazing Michelle was in the position of her head, fingers, line etc, I just dont know if we'll be saying the same about any of the girls on the circuit now. Mao Asada was always a beautiful skater but she really never skated to the music so well until after mentorship with Tarasova. Her choreography was always beautiful but it took a while AND Mao is older than Gracie and though she's my personal favorite, even she leaves some people cold. Anyhow, i just want to enjoy this upcomming season. I wish Gracie the best.
  20. FSfan107

    FSfan107 Well-Known Member

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    Huh? It seems like some people want to blame everything on Gracie even if it's a situation she is not involved in.

    I thought John Nicks had already clarified that he does not intend to retire until after next season. I don't think Ashley has anything to worry about.
  21. Mayra

    Mayra Well-Known Member

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    If Ashley took out some choreography I don't blame her. If anything I think her presentation is overly choreographed. :shuffle:

    Credit where credit is due, I think Phillip Mills did a great job highlighting Ashley's strengths and really taking her to another level.

    I hope she continues to make similar strides with a new choreographer. :)
  22. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Active Member

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    You could be right but I never heard it. Dick Button most certainly made it a point of saying that the program was not really the work of Chris.lol

    Complain all you want, no choreographer works for free! Thats what I dont get. They were handsomely compensated for their work (if they werent then shame on them) and thats it! The skater can do whatever they want because THEY PAID FOR IT!!!

    it's just like the choreography that Liza T. put out. Neither program resemble what i'm used to seeing from David Wilson or Stephane Lambiel. Daisuke's free program looks more Morosov influenced than Shae Lynn. At the end of the day, choreographers do their work and can hope that it really reflects them. If it does not, they can surely do what Phillip did. Unfortunately, i dont think what he did for Ashley was so amazing that he should piss and moan. Now how Lori stayed silent while Kwan turned her novel concepts into last years choreography just to different music befuddles me. Morozov didnt mind because everything he did for her looked the damn same. It came to a point where the only thing that looked like something he would do was the steps but he cashed in on working with her and ultimately worked with two of the best female skaters the USA has ever produced in Kwan and Cohen... Phillip might just want to shut up before he's working for no one.
  23. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Active Member

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    Um, as... flaky (sorry) as she's been of late, she seems MOST likely to change something and shrug her shoulders in his face. lol
  24. MR-FAN

    MR-FAN Kostner Softie

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    So he has to keep working with people who change his choreography even though he hates it? He doesn't wanna work with people who alter his work, he has the right to do so. What's the big deal?

    You see movie directors complain all the time about studios altering their visions and work to appease to the mainstream crowds, should they too keep quiet since they've being paid for it? Artists deserve to have their work presented to the world the way they see fit. and I don't buy into the argument that they only have that right if they work for free
  25. Macassar88

    Macassar88 Well-Known Member

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    Mishin? :rofl: Obviously not gonna happen, but at least he'd get her to get a 3-3
  26. AJ Skatefan

    AJ Skatefan Well-Known Member

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    Too bad! I thought Phillip Mills' choreography was the best thing Ashley had going on the past two seasons.
  27. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    So, wait. Is Ashley still with Nicks??
  28. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    Not publicly. But I have it good authority Sarah K was very pissed at how much MK watered down her choreography, and SK said she didn't want her name associated with the program.
  29. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    Not publicly. But I have it on good authority Sarah K was very pissed at how much MK watered down her choreography, and SK said she didn't want her name associated with the program.
  30. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    Wagner swapped the placements of the 2axel and 3loop in the short after Nationals. Otherwise I don't see much obvious changes in her programs since Japan Open / Skate America. The steps in her long at WTT seemed different / simplified and the flourishes after the jumps were gone. But these are reasonable changes given the shaky second half of the season she has had.
  31. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if what Ashley put out there the past 2 seasons was true to Mills' choreographic vision, but I thought Ashley did a very admirable job with the choreography we saw and her presentation was very effective. These days, I would think any choreographer would be very happy with well-presented programs. I guess Mills expects more. Or the feeling of moving on was more mutual, and we really don't know the whole story. That's usually the case with break-ups ... in skating ... in life.

    O-
  32. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    This. Great post.If something you worked on gets destroyed or changed drastically, why shouldn't you be upset? Payment or not, art is art. Alan Smithee exists for a reason.
  33. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    Wagner, get thee to Braden Overett!
  34. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    Not watering down so much as she completed changed a large part of the Goodwill Games version by Nationals. Perhaps the Goodwill Games version was already the watered down version? I love the potential shown in the Goodwill Games version of Scheherazade but IMO the innate problem of that program was the weird cuts and the rushed timing.

    Still, they did make a classic together in the Fields of Gold.

    In fact, I think Chris Dean should be much more mad at her - dumping the great Rush after 2 or 3 showings, and completely trashing Bolero.
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  35. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    Maybe that's the issue. Maybe what we are seeing is the reworked choreography and Mills is an unimpressed as you are with what ended up put out on the ice and how far it was from his original vision.

    I heard it. And that's probably why Dick Button made such a point of saying that the choreography had been changed.

    We don't know what changes were made before that though.

    I find the whole thing perplexing though. It's highly unusual for a choreographer to *announce* that they aren't going to work with a skater any more. They generally just stop working with them. So this big announcement seems to serve only to dis Ashley and/or to distance himself from her programs as we saw them.
  36. shine

    shine Well-Known Member

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    Regardless of what Mills had intended to say in this statement, what's so hard to understand with what you wrote above? If I had a lot of respect for my very own creation I wouldn't want my name attached to it if it has evolved to something that's not really mine (or worse yet, less than what I had originally intended it to be). I find the suggestion that him being paid handsomely means he should then compromise kind of offensive. It's not all about money.
  37. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

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    Count me in as another one who is puzzled by the motivation for the announcement. The only slight difference here is that Mills is (or rather, was) in fact also one of Wagner's coaches.
  38. sk8ingcoach

    sk8ingcoach Active Member

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    Phillips Mills needs to stop whining, his choreography sucked anyway. Maybe Ashley can now go get some real choreography so that she might have a small chance of making the podium at olympics.
  39. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    This isn't like you commissioned a painting from an artist and then proceed to add your own touches to the completed product. Competitive skating choreography has to be organic. The skater and coach must be able to make adjustments throughout the season in order for the skater to feel comfortable pulling off all of the technical elements. Let say Ashley doesn't feel comfortable doing the 3loop-2Axel sequence choreographed into her LP program by Mills, and she really wants to either eliminate it or change it so that she has a better chance of skating clean. Is Mills going to be so freaking anal-retentive about his work that he'll adamantly put his foot down and say "NO" and not care if Ashley has a high percentage of falling on that sequence? Mills has been involved with competitive skating long enough to know that choreography do change as the season progresses. If he doesn't want this to happen then he should stick to only doing pieces professional shows or groups like The Next Ice Age, for example, and stay away from competitive skaters altogether.
  40. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

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    I agree, orbitz. There is a difference between art and competitive skating. Competitive skating is an athletic pursuit that showcases artistry, at its best. I think every choreographer has the prerogative to decide what they're willing to do and not do and who they're willing to work with and not work with. But, unless they're independently wealthy or have another way of earning money outside of choreographing competitive programs, they have to have some flexibility and support the athlete's goal. Otherwise, they may find opportunities to practice their craft few and far between.

    O-