Was it Michelle or Lori

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by arakwafan2006, May 19, 2011.

  1. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap Well-Known Member

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    That was more evident in the LPs than in the SPs. I have noticed there seems to be slightly more praise for Michelle's repertoire of SPs than her LPs. There are a lot of skaters that have similar issues with choreography when comparing their SPs to LPs. Michelle just came from such a high level of choreography that it stood out when she skated LPs with "the norm" in choreography later in her career. That she was able to sustain choreographic excellence over a span roughly 6 years in her competitive programs speaks volumes about her abilities even beyond her titles. What other singles skaters can we say that about? Who else is comparable in that department? I'm just happy there's a representation out their for ladies skaters to see consistency in many aspects, including choreography, even if it wasn't over the span of her entire career. I feel like that, given Michelle's physical ailments she developed later, a longer period of choreographic emphasis might have been expecting too much from her.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2011
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  2. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    MK's Spartacus SP at Nationals was one of my favorite performances of hers. Dick Button said that she brought out about as much emotion in that program as she possibly could, and I agreed. I loved the circular footwork ( the only change I would made to that was when she momentarily stopped in front of the judges, I wished she would've looked directly at them instead of down on the ice). The iconic spiral that she hit right at the crescendo of the music and the final arms movements of the layback into the ending pose gave me goose pumps when I saw it on TV.
     
  3. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to express what it felt like to experience it in person.
     
  4. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    We will agree to disagree. Her post Lori programs seemed to be she just skated around the rink to other and doing a jump at each end. She skated through the music, not used the music. Also with Bolero in particular there was not much demonstration of multi directional skating in that she skated most of it in an anticlockwise direction which is not good program composition either. In fact you could say that most of her SPs after Lori were pretty much the same program just skated to a different piece of music.

    A sign of telling if the skater really is using the music is to turn the music off and see whether you can see anything in the program that would give you an indication of a theme or idea and also detail. That example you gave is one of those. There was a little bit of choreograph at the start but it certainly wasn't carried through. Maybe only the circular steps brought something out, maybe hitting the spiral on the music, but there was very little else in the program that gave any indication of the music choice. And you certainly couldn't say the choreography was complex or detailed because there just wasn't a lot of choreographic content.

    I always felt with Lori, Kwan brought out emotion and character in the performances. After Lori she kind of just smiled through most of her programs and there was a real lack of emotional investment and connection in the music.

    Sorry if that upsets Kwan fans but I was asked the question and that is my answer.
     
  5. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Entitled to your views, Aussie Willy, but just Wow! Without Lori, MK still brings out emotion and character in her performances. If all you see in Spartacus, Hands, Kissing You, Tosca, The Miraculous Mandarin, Winter Song, etc., are just "smiling ... and lack of emotional investment and connection in the music," then I feel sorry for you, and I'd hate for you to be one of the judges scoring skating by any of my favorite skaters.

    Not upset at all, just sayin... Whatever you think or anyone thinks, doesn't change Kwan's greatness or what she accomplished in her amazing career, and what she is still contributing in her life today.
     
  6. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap Well-Known Member

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    Regarding Aussie Willy's statement about the same program with different music: The Feeling Begins and Spartacus are totally different programs even with the music off. Even her Totentanz SP "to be" was different than her other programs. I don't buy calling her SPs the same. I agree that her LPs lacked as much content as before 2002, but to me it felt like she was transitioning into a stage of greater emphasis on technical content as early as 1998 following her defeats to Tara in 97. After the Olympics in 98 her next two LPs stressed her power and command. She seemed stronger. Her biggest competitors Slutskaya and the younger American girls emphasized technical content more. Artistically, Michelle had already reached a plateau by Lyra Angelica IMO. She still was able to go further with other programs, but technically she had more room to grow, so IMO she began exploring that more. We may just be talking about the same thing in different terms, less choreo = greater technical emphasis for Michelle.

    One things I love about Michelle's LPs from 03 on, minus probably Bolero, is that she skated each of them with a different intensity and fire that you just can't measure when talking about choreography. She had minimal choreography but was able to create (at least in my mind) an even greater artistic effect than many skaters with lots of choreography. Again, that's just my opinion, but I really think this whole conversation has to be framed around what is known of Michelle's injuries she sustained from about 03 (and perhaps earlier) on to her final competitive performances.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  7. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Why would you feel sorry for me if I don't get what you see? I think the hardest thing is to try and be objective about performances, to quantify aspects and not to get drawn into the emotion of them. And if it makes me a tough judge then so be it. That is what I have had to learn to do. I am really picky when it comes to skaters using the music and I want to see the music used. Maybe it is one of the consequences of IJS and the breaking down of components, which is probably what I am applying in this case.

    I agree that Kwan was a really great skater. However years later after watching performances from her that I thought were really good, I have had to reevaluate certain aspects of them as I have gained more judging knowledge. But that just doesn't go for just Kwan. It goes for a whole heap of skaters, which can either put them in a more negative or positive evaluation on reflection and understanding. However the topic of conversation is around Kwan so that is who we are discussing.
     
  8. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ And that there in a nutshell is the problem, I'd say! How can you be a judge of whether or not MK is emotionally invested in her programs sans Lori and connected to the music, when you as a consequence of learning to judge via IJS must not "get drawn into the emotion"? That makes you an emotionless judge "quantifying aspects" rather than fully appreciating the performance as a whole, which again is a large part of the problem with CoP.

    If you were actually making critiques that had validity in Kwan's case, then okay. For example, I do feel that Bolero is not MK's best program by far, but still she manages to convey emotion, altho' the music and choreo did not work for her. But if you think in the below programs that MK is not expressing palpable emotion and connection to the music, then definitely I do feel sorry for you because you are truly missing something quite unique and special.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWQSoIEAxns

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwr4zH53-bo

    And below, the last time Kwan would win Worlds, even though she still had a similar indefinable magic in 2004 and 2005. Yes, I know its hard for judges to score magic. And now, sans Kwan and post CoP, you can find precious little or none of any kind of magic. So, along with being anonymous, I guess that makes the judges happy they don't have to worry about getting "drawn into emotion."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfluAux0Sf0

    And once again, MK's relationship with Lori as her choreographer was a very collaborative one, taking nothing away from either of them. Sans Lori, MK is still a great skater. In addition, ITA with Kwantumleap, that Kwan began to focus more and more on aspects of speed, power, and athleticisim later in her career, because that is what the judges were preferring to reward. As great as she is/was, Kwan was often criticized even during her dominant years. She is great, in part, because of the constant criticism, Olympic disappointments, and injuries she had to overcome.
     
  9. Mayra

    Mayra Well-Known Member

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    This.

    If it was only Lori then you could argue she should have theoretically been able to transfer that magic to all the skaters she works with and that clearly isn't the case*cough* American ladies *cough*. She has created some lovely programs post Kwan including those for S/P and Patrick Chan. Saying it was only Michelle discounts all the hard work that Lori put in during Michelle's transition in the 95-96 season(and beyond) to help improve her presentation. I consider "Fields of Gold" to be one of Michelle's best interpretive programs, if not the best and it was choreographed by Sarah K.

    I don't think it was the case of one being more fortunate than the other for having worked together, more like they were both fortunate to have each other. Together they helped create and bring to life some incredible programs.

    :respec: Michelle, Lori and Frank
     
  10. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

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    Kwan is beyond quantification. I for one am happy she wasn't subjected to COP for very long. It brings out the worst in so many skaters and in figure skating in general in so many ways. Sometimes I feel that a skater should just stand by the boards and wait to be asked to do their Level 4 Spiral, and then their best axel, and then their Level 30 (LOL) spin, and so on. So many programs have become demonstrations of moves without much connectivity. There are a few, but very few, exceptions to this rule. Figure (and I do mean FIGURE) skating is no longer the sport it used to be. The actual skating, which was originally based on figures, leaves much to be desired at times. When we see a skater who actual has good skating skills, they stand out -- in a good way (e.g., Patrick Chan). But tricks are where it's at because that's where the points are at.

    I remember Tarasova commenting about Kwan that she could "do anything." And by "do anything," Tarasova was not referring to Kwan's "trick" ability. Not many skaters or fans or judges these days (esp those coming up in COP) probably even grasp the full meaning of that statement.

    Michelle Kwan was and is a tremendous figure skater.

    O-
     
  11. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, OliviaPug: Michelle Kwan is beyond quantification :respec:

    ITA Mayra: Michelle, Lori and Frank ...together they helped create and bring to life some incredible programs

    And, I will restate comments from my earlier post:

    One of the fallacies that tended to be pushed by the media was that MK achieved success solely because of Lori and Frank. Actually, they were a team, with all that entails. They came together fortuitously and magic happened. However, Michelle would probably be the first to point out that her family gave her the wings to fly.
     
  12. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap Well-Known Member

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    I agree with some of the points you're making, but I think we can get our points across and have a spirited debate without being patronizing.
     
  13. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    Aussy Willy, I'm asking you in all sincerity, did you even watch any other programs Kwan did with other choreographers outside Aranjuez, Tosca, and Bolero? I understand where your criticisms come from if you're basing her work outside Lori solely based on those routines, but Kwan has done work with many other choreographers and they are not empty or just skating from one end of the rink to the other the way Aranjuez and Tosca were. I think that's where some of the bewilderment is coming from.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  14. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    Okay, Kwantumleap, if you think I'm being patronizing, that's how you interpret what I said. Actually, I do feel sorry for anyone who views Michelle's greatest performances and is unable to experience their magic, and for any judge who has to force him or herself not to "get drawn into emotion." :)
     
  15. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    I have pretty much seen all Kwan's programs. I think to answer your question I have to refer back to the initial poster who asked whether it was Lori or Michelle and that is what I have in my mind when posting my response.

    For me Kwan's programs when she was with Lori were magical. The choreography was complex, worked with the nuances of the music and she was also given music that really brought out something that at the time hadn't been seen before. She created pictures for you which still stick in my mind even as I type this. For a younger skater she was really given very sophisticated concepts and programs to work with and she told the story.

    After she left Nichol, the skating might have been great but they definately were not as complex or sophisticated. She was a more mature skater who had the experience but those moments were missing. The spiral was a common fixture but it is not difficult to do a spiral on the highlight of the music after building up speed with crossovers.

    One of the programs I revisited a while ago was her 2001 FS to I think it was the Red Violin. Beautiful skating, but I was really surprised at the lack of complexity in the transitions and choreography.

    I think my issue is, and this comes from judging, is that I try to separate the components. Kwan put in great performances after Nichol, but as a judge you also have to be careful not to get sucked into thinking that because there is a high performance level, good skating skills and flow over the ice, that means the other components such as choreography are on the same level. This is something that get discussed ad infinitum on this forum with many criticising judges for not separating components and using the marks as they should. So that probably explains where I am coming from.

    This may not convince you but I hope it helps understand where I am coming from. I saw Kwan live in 98 at Worlds and it was an amazing experience. Her SP was to die for. But after she left Lori I never got that magic that had been created before then.

    But as I said, there are many skaters who on revisiting their programs these days I would feel the same about. It is not just Kwan but a reevaluation of skating in general.
     
  16. Proustable

    Proustable New Member

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    Which programs/performances do you feel Kwan gave that would merit high component marks in all categories?
     
  17. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap Well-Known Member

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    Nichol choreographed The Red Violin, though. I think The Red Violin was very sophisticated - I couldn't imagine anyone else attempting to skate to it. I remember when she premiered it in the EX at Worlds in 99. It was almost as if there was a huge gap between her off performance in the LP and her EX. She seemed in the zone in the EX, of course it wasn't a LP, but still. The commentator that shared the booth with Chris Bowman was gushing about how impressed she was that Michelle chose a semi-competitive number for the EX and that Michelle was pushing herself artistically with even more dramatic music.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  18. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap Well-Known Member

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    Many of Kwan's best performances: 1998 Nats, 2001 Worlds LP, etc. belong right up there with the T/D Bolero, John Curry Don Quixote, Janet Lynn Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, etc. They're all examples of the highest level one can aspire to in skating. No matter how you quantify them in scores, they're models for future athletes to aspire to and milestones in the development in figure skating. These models aren't destined to be replaced any time soon.

    I do think it is kind of ridiculous that Michelle's non-CoP programs are being scrutinized by requirements from a scoring system they were not designed to fit. She scored well enough under 6.0 to win her 5 world titles (1 post Nichol and another one was for The Red Violin), so I think that speaks for the quality. No skater during that time held more world titles than her. No one man or woman competing now holds 5 world titles :shuffle:
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  19. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    I can see where you are coming from Aussie Willy, yet still its as if when it comes to Kwan, you want to have your cake and eat it too. ;)

    Sure once the split with Lori and the necessity to focus more on jumps and speed, it meant that the intricate choreography, and even the experimentation with different types of music took a back seat. That is unfortunate, because we lost out on seeing Kwan develop more in the vein of The Miraculous Mandarin, but Kwan wasn't being rewarded for her efforts to skate intricate programs to different and interesting music. Even in 1999 at Nats, the focus was on "baby ballerinas" coming up to challenge Kwan, not on the ways that Kwan was challenging herself with her programs (i.e., Lament d'Ariane that year). At 1998 Olympics, Kwan's music, Lyra Angelica, was unusual, and the program was mature, lovely and moving. Ironically, the music may have had too much subtlety and depth (reminds me of Jeremy Abbott's Life Is Beautiful lp music) to be fully appreciated by the judges.

    In any case, Aussie Willy, if you view Kwan's later programs as not having choreographic depth, there is still emotional investment and connection to the music, even if her focus is more on jumps and speed. And, sorry, but I just totally disagree with your describing Kwan's iconic spiral as "a common fixture." Would that such "a common fixture" were prevalent these days. As Dick observes in his 2004 Nats lp commentary, despite Kwan having to shorten her spiral because of the demands of the new judging system, her spiral still had technical precision, verve and impact.

    Your statement about being a judge meaning you must not allow yourself to get "sucked into" believing that a performance has great choreography just because other aspects are at a high level, is to me simply a CoP-out. Few judges today, IMHO, seem concerned with the choreographic aspects of a program because they are too busy quantifying elements and are not viewing the performance as a whole. In any case, there are few programs today that are choreographic gems.

    I'm not trying to be patronizing, as you know more about the actual judging system than I do, and welcome to it. I've said this before, but I watch a skating program with my eyes and my mind and my heart, backed up by my own personal perceptions and knowledge gained over many years of viewing figure skating. So I guess that makes me not fit to be a figure skating judge. Amen!
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  20. Proustable

    Proustable New Member

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    I hardly think looking at a pre-COP program from the perspectives of choreography, performance, interpretation and skating skills is ridiculous. Her competitive record is admirable but a straw man.
     
  21. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    ^ You're so right. Michelle Kwan was awesome at all those things and then some. There still is none better. Some can pull their foot above their head but the skating is wobbly. Some are moving but loopless. Some have the triple axel but are salchow less. Some are fast but lutzless or flipless or preceding stepless. Some are good once in awhile. Some are so graceful you'd think they could never fall until they do A LOT. Some skate below their potential. Some skate to their potential but couldn't get noticed even if they dress like a canary ... there is none like Michelle Kwan.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  22. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap Well-Known Member

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    If only CoP were more like 6.0, but it's not. It embraces its own unique aesthetic lense. Here I've only disagreed about questions of the level of her choreography and transitions, and I agree that her programs gradually became less and less choreographed over time. I think the choreo litmus test is basically Kwan vs. Kwan or Kwan vs. classic ladies pre-7 triple LPs on that front. Regardless, I think the consistency of Michelle's competitive record at worlds is an excellent example of where the choreographic bar is and has been set in figure skating (before, after, and during Kwan). Nichol and she set an extremely high choreographic bar early on, but later on Michelle still achieved the same artistic scores/results at the highest level of competition with less choreography.

    Having a well-choreographed program is a great goal to have, but unfortunately under 6.0 that always took the back seat to a clean program (just ask French goddesses Vanessa Gusmeroli and Laetitia Hubert) in way that hardly compares to the situation with CoP. As the technical bar continued to rise against Michelle, she took the route that resulted in programs that, aside from listing accolades, are still remembered and highly revered about a decade later.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  23. Proustable

    Proustable New Member

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    Can you talk about more about "6.0's aesthetic lense?" I'm a COP man at heart to the point where I struggle with many of the acclaimed 6.0 programs, so a different perspective would definitely be appreciated.
     
  24. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    These critiques of Kwan remind me of the criticism she faced throughout her career. Its impossible to please all of the people all of the time (especially when you have a precocious genius). There's always the nitpicking and the naysayers. Funnily enough, skating's entire landscape would be quite different today if not for skaters such as Toller Cranston, Janet Lynn, Michelle Kwan, and believe it or not, Johnny Weir.

    Regarding Kwan, one contingent feel/ felt The Miraculous Mandarin music was not accessible enough for skating and they failed to understand what Kwan and Peter O were attempting with the intricate choreography. Another contingent complains that MK's programs later in her career were so "empty," without understanding why she began focusing more on jumps and speed, and cutting down on intricate choreography. Fact is, circa 1997 - 2001, she was not always being rewarded for programs with intricate choreography and different music, so she changed her focus. Others nitpick that Kwan's jumps were not high enough and she didn't do triple/ triples consistently, and she was "holding back" skaters such as Cohen. Fact is, Kwan did the triple/ triples at the most important points of her career, and that's why she has five World titles. Also, despite Cohen's great talent and abilities, when Kwan was nowhere in sight, Cohen was still stumbling and falling.

    Even Frank Carroll spoke of Kwan lacking "spark" in her Olympic 1998 lp. ;) I certainly do not wish to patronize Frank, but I think MK had plenty of spark in that program:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x14RFdZXiVk

    Lots of Michelle spark, not to mention beautiful, mature choreography. Lest we forget ... that was an amazing performance, which IMO stands on its own, and does not need to be adversely compared with her out-of-body experiences at 1998 Nationals. Because MK broke into tears and was overcome with emotion at the end of her '98 Olympic lp, I think a lot of people thought she felt she hadn't performed well. Quite the contrary, IMO. Her tears seemed to me to be expressing pent-up emotion and relief.

    Michelle Kwan is a great skater, in part because of all the criticism, challenges, Olympic disappointments, and injuries she overcame in her career.
     
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  25. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    Speaking of MK, the current issue of Washington Flyer, which is distributed for free at Reagan National airport, has MK on the cover. Inside is a fabulous picture of her in a red dress striking a skating pose with the Capitol as the backdrop.
     
  26. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    Struggle away, Proustable. :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXIj_UGchiE&feature=related Rudy Galindo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIkfE30GPWU Johnny Weir

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHfgjszz_Tk Michelle Kwan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okPRcajUQrM&feature=related Michelle Kwan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah3Fmy7hAn0 Brian Boitano
    Yay Brian. I forgot that Brian B performed quads in practice in those days!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ttNzEwPMLM Johnny Weir

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfluAux0Sf0 Michelle Kwan

    And John Curry didn't receive any 6.0s for his Don Quixote lp at 1976 Olympics, but he should have, in Dick Button's opinion. ITA!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djadlQLK_ow

    So, should have Toller Cranston at 1974 Worlds:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7AZboQ0R08
     
  27. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    You would probably make a fantastic judge because you are so passionate about it. And we need more judges.
     
  28. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  29. Proustable

    Proustable New Member

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    ... nevermind. Even though it's quoted now for posterity.
     
  30. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    aftershocks and bardtoob,

    Entire posts:
    :respec: