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  1. #1
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    The artistic part of a program?

    I have a problem, I'm bad in artistic impression, but good in skating technique, so my first program (freestyle 3) program turns out to look stiff, I'm doing all the difficult elements with ease but the whole thing looks stiff, I just have very few arm movements that I wouldn't really call artistic my coach tried to show me some elegant movements during the elements but when I try it looks rather awkward than elegant and I have problems to coordinate arm movements with my leg movements so when I try to do arm movements, the elements I could do with ease before are not possible anymore.

    I started from zero exeperiece, I never did sports, dance, ballet, acting or whatever helps to be artistic on ice, I noticed those who did something before can translate it to ice much better...

    This is my FIRST season with a coach so, I will try to get it together but I think it will take years (much longer than learning skating technique), I don't know any choreographers so I can't ask someone to help me....

    So, I'd like to ask you (adult skaters who started late), how did you learn to skate artistic/elegant, is it something you can really learn or that either you have it or not or is there anything else I can do that will help?

    Thats why for now I prefer not to try to be artistic when I do not look like that (if you know what I mean) I will always try to get it better but that won't work for my next competition...so would it be really bad when I just show a good "choreography" of good elements? It won't be element after element, my coach and I try to let it everything look good anyway...

    I even saw freestyle 1 skaters who are much more artistic than me so...its strange...

    I can post a litte video later...

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    A big part of being "artistic" is listening to your music, and using your body to express the music.

    I notice (and I don't mean this as a criticism, just an observation) that you don't mention your program music at all in your post. What are you skating to? Do you like it? Did you choose it? Sometimes skaters have problems being "artistic" because they don't like their music or they don't feel it fits them, and/or they are just skating to it because their coach told them to use it. Maybe your music doesn't feel right for you, and that is part of why you have trouble interpreting it.

    Assuming that you are OK with the music....try a little experiment (which you can even do at home). Put the music on. Really listen to it a couple of times. How does it make you feel? Are you happy, sad, whatever? What else does the music make you think of? A colour, a taste, a certain kind of light? Try to relate to the music more than just as "what is going on in the background when I am on the ice".

    Then try moving to the music. Not your program steps, just do what the music makes you feel like doing. Are you moving slow or fast? Are you moving smoothly, brokenly, up, down, sideways, around...? Those are the sorts of movements that you can try incorporating into your program.

    Taking ballet, dance, theatre, whatever can definitely help you be more artistic. But if there isn't a connection between you and your music, none of those will do much good.

  3. #3
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    LLOS,
    I feel your pain.
    We have exactly the same problem.....

    One question: Do you want to be artistic? I mean, if there was an event that only required the preformance of jumps and spins. No transitions. Just a jump/spin competiton but one that lasted 3-4 minutes and gave you the ability to choose your best items. Would you be interested in that sort of thing? Or would you want to be a dancer/artist? Just wondering...

    Me. I'd take the technical event anyday. I can't stand the whole art thing either.

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    Yes, I love my music, (Ain't no sunshine) I only would skate to music I like, I have to hear it hundreds of times during the season so you have to like it I think my speed is middle, so not really fast and not slow...I think...

    The thing is this..the elements are so difficult that it is hard to also express the music without that my concentration goes off what my feet are doing. You can say now, "then do an easier program" but then I feel bored, not challanged, do you know what I mean? I do a "Solo creative free skate", I also thought of doing an "solo artistic free" skate but it turned out I'm NOT artistic so I dropped the idea

    Do you want to be artistic?
    Well, I would like to be, but honestly I'd rather just skate the elements, thats most fun. I also think it is required to be equally good in artistic and technical... But as I said, I just start to learn it, lets see how it turns out in a year.
    Or would you want to be a dancer/artist?
    Not really, because I'm not a dancer, I have no talent

    I mean, if there was an event that only required the preformance of jumps and spins. No transitions. Just a jump/spin competiton but one that lasted 3-4 minutes and gave you the ability to choose your best items.
    I don't have the big choice of events, I'm in Germany there are just very few and just one ISI event. I can't afford to travel anywhere However it would be great to skate 3-4 min. but I have to squeeze the elements I want to show in 1.50min, there is not much time just to skate and be artistic

    Here is a small part of my program, just spirals... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08UR_VidtR8

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    You're very stiff through your upper back and shoulders and you look like you're 'lobster-clawing' your hands.

    Most 'artistry' in skating comes from not looking tense. You don't need BALLET so much as you need what you get from ballet barre work--allignment, lift through the chest/sternum (in Latin more than ballet we think of it as...your rib cage is floating on your core. We do more lateral/diagonal work, but it helps for skating in that it brings your whole look 'up' and makes you seem lighter on your feet.) Think about relaxing your shoulders, supporting through your core, and making your upper back 'wide' (sorry, this is easier to show than tell.)

    For your hands, my new pro (NP) was working with me as I have a tendency to hyperflex, which as one dance coach put it makes my hands look "arthritic." NP said, looking at my "good" hands where I'm concentrating on doing it right, "I like that I don't notice your knuckles." I think about keeping my shoulders down, and when I lift my arm I think about supporting it from BELOW--you should feel you LATS engaged, down your side and back, and not be trying to hold your arm up with just the arm and shoulder muscles. It's most obvious in your video where you change F to B and circle your arms--you look like you're just kind of flinging your arms from the elbows. When you do that, use the muscles of your chest and back and CONTROL the movement--you should feel your chest kind of stretching open as your arms reach the top of the circle and start to come down.

    Also think about keeping your hands soft and a bit curved, as if you were cupping a ball in the hollow of your palm-don't let them turn flat towards or away from you. When I hold out my arms in dance, especially in a move like a New Yorker/crossover break where I have to keep my arm symmetrical to the lead's, but keep my fingers softer and more 'feminine' (ie not bladed or hyperflexed) I think about keeping my wrist, back of hand, and the top of my arm all about level to each other, and I kind of think "soft" at my fingers--they have to have TONE, but they can't be TENSE.

    Looking soft and artistic actually takes an absurd amount of upper-body and arms strength. You have to support everything so it's smooth, but doesn't flop.

    Also, more speed/more in the knee. Really, the faster you go, the softer your knees are, the more fluid it looks.

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    You say you are "freestyle 3" I'm not sure what level that is in Germany, but in the US- that's a pretty beginner level freestyle for USFS.

    To be honest, at that level there are very few artistic skaters, because to be artistic I think you need to be truly comfortable on the ice. Looking at your video I'd think the biggest issue is knee bend, which will increase the look of flow.

    I have many many years of performance dance training (though not classical ballet). This is my ISI freestyle 3 program (don't know if that in any way correlates to your freestyle 3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N510cq8V94o I'm much more "artistic" than I am "athletic" and yet, I don't think this video shows an artistic skater, but a beginner. (I have another program video on that account to a more peppy song, if you want another example)

    So for the level you are at, I'd think about enjoying the music and feeling comfortable on the ice, and that will help lead to connecting to the music and looking artistic. Danceronice gave you good tips about your hands- stress in the hands is a very noticeable thing.

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    danceronice, I didn't thought I'm THAT bad as you describe...must think about before I can reply more....

    I'm in ISI freestyle 3 like you Skittl1321....

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    I don't have the big choice of events, I'm in Germany there are just very few and just one ISI event. I can't afford to travel anywhere However it would be great to skate 3-4 min. but I have to squeeze the elements I want to show in 1.50min, there is not much time just to skate and be artistic
    Actually, we don't have events like that here either .....But I wish we did.

    I saw your video. Your spirals look pretty good. On the first spiral you just need a little more stretch through the toe. The second spiral (catch foot) was really good. I do agree with getting a deeper knee bend on the stroking. Try to bend your knees and lean a little more into the ice.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLOS View Post
    danceronice, I didn't thought I'm THAT bad as you describe...must think about before I can reply more....

    I'm in ISI freestyle 3 like you Skittl1321....
    Where did I say you were bad? You want to know how to look more artistic. You look stiff. You said yourself you're not a dancer, so that isn't surprising. Get rid of that, and 90% of your 'artistic' issues will go away. Most of what the average skater does that is 'aritistic' is about not looking like they're trying. Like Skittl said, there aren't a lot of REAL arists skating. And I don't think of doing Latin as art, more like learning EXTREMELY detailed motor control. If you look softer, you'll seem more lyrical, even if you don't THINK you are. Think of it as learning technique on a very micro scale. Like I said, I have issues with hyperflexing joints, so I end up LOOKING tense even if I'm not--I just have to learn to think about parts of how I move that someone just going through their day normally doesn't. Same with skating. Even the "art" part has technical stuff.

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    Looking soft and artistic actually takes an absurd amount of upper-body and arms strength.
    Thats true, I'm aware of it, my coach notices this often but the problem is, I have no upper body strength and in my age I won't get it anymore, I'm not an athlete, so it seems the improvment will be very slow or not at all, who knows....you should not see my skating from a perspective of a very good skater wanting me look the same as a beginner. Thats unfortunately not possible
    So the other question is, is it enogh for MY level? I'm not saying I'm trying to be like a pro skater where everything looks soft and great, I'm just a beginner and it will turn out in a couple of years if I can improve my expression.

    Also, more speed/more in the knee.
    Yes, thats always something to improve (in any level), you are right! But I think it is enough speed for my level, if you compare it to Skittl1321. I don't have much ISI freestyle 3 programs (just two) so I actually have no comparison if what I do is good enough for this level. If artistic or technically. If you say in this level most skaters are not artistic, then I'm in good company though

    I also try to show in my program many moves/transitions on one foot, what I see very rarely at beginner level...why is it so? Is it that difficult? I don't find it difficult at all...

  11. #11
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    LOL, that's what you think! I'm in WAY better shape than I was in my twenties. Do you have any medical reason you can't do crunches? (Ab work.) Really, you don't need a six-pack. Just *stronger*. I'm not a pro by any means, but I do...okay, a LOT of crunches almost every morning before work, because it helps with riding, with dance, with skating (which I"m not doing right now, but when I was...wouldn't be allowed, anyway, you'd think I broke my ankle, not a finger! Stupid doctors.) I wish I'd done it as a kid--riding would have been so much easier!

    One-foot turns are considered harder than two-foot because you have all your weight over one foot and are turning on it. I don't get it, either, mohawks were much harder for me than outside forward threes. If you can do a lot of one foot turns, do them! A lot of adult beginners seem really afraid of picking up one foot, which I kind of get, but to me, it's much harder to step from one foot to the other at speed.

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    Yeah, your probably right, I think I don't really feel motivated to do crunches all day but that isn't all, shoulder and arms need more strength too (?).

    I also think mohawks are harder than 3 turns, much harder...

    I love elements on one foot, not only 3 turns just long edges with 3 turn...half of my footwork is on one foot, for example I'm doing forward change of edge (don't know how this is called) inside 3 turn and backward change of edge...this is one of my favorite elements.

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    I agree that mohawks are harder than 3 turns.

    That said, my good mohawks are better than my bad 3 turns.

    I don't care what foot or what edge I'm on- I just have to be turning over my right shoulder. I can do any turn as long as it goes that way. (Counter, rocker, bracket, 3-turn, mohawk) The other way- uh, send me back to basic skills.

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    For me it's that instant of moving from one foot to the other, while three-turns your're on the same foot (except I HATE how back inside threes feel on my knee, if that makes any sense. Just something about the mechanics of the turn feels wonky and I keep thinking it's going to hurt my knee.)

    For shoulders, just get some light hand weights, and do some curls and presses every other day. When the littlest size starts feeling too easy, get a bigger size. I probably only spend twenty minutes on crunches (and I'd be done faster if I didn't just lie there watching the TV in between types!) And fifteen minutes tops on the weights! And if you can find a video, or a dance teacher who'd show you, I'll do a ballet barre at home while I"m watching TV. It really makes me think about my posture and arms.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLOS View Post
    Here is a small part of my program, just spirals... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08UR_VidtR8
    Did you just remove it from youtube? Being on the same level and really uncomfortable with presenting the artistic side, I'd really love to see your video!

    On the other hand, I found incorporating arm movements are technically challenging too. Even swinging the arms during simple alternating forward outside 3 require some adjustments because, well, formerly the arms were used for checking and balancing!

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    Most skaters who come into skating later in life have the same problem. It is a matter of finding a way to work around it. As a non-dancer person myself I understand. However my main advantage with skating is that I understand music (and I even had a judge tell me once it gave me an unfair advantage).

    There are two ways to view artistry. One is the lovely balletic type of artistry with graceful arms and smooth fluid motions, but it may not necessarily reflect the music.

    The other is to really interpret the music by showing that you are listening to it. Putting in steps and placing elements that fit the music is really important. And listening to the phrasing and tailoring a program around that.

    When judging I do give credit to a skater who may not necessarily be the most graceful but definately shows they are listening to the music. And if they can come up with a concept that works with the music then all the better for them.

    From my own skating, I have always tried to pick music that reflects my personality and that people can see why I have picked it and what I am trying to do with it. And very rarely have I used music that others have used (even top skaters). So it does help you stand out.

    Can I suggest get onto the ISU website and look for the communications and information that relate to the program component aspects of the judging system. There might be some useful information in there that will help guide you in relation to what the judges want to see. I think many skaters forget that information is freely available for anyone to look at.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    I think learning to skate as an adult is like learning a new language as an adult-- it's definitely possible, it's just not going to come as naturally and you may always have a bit of an accent.

    Some people just aren't used to expressing with their bodies so they don't have the "vocabulary" to do it. If someone told me to just go out and express whatever music I was hearing, I might be able to do it OK in bare feet on the floor, but even then, I would not have a lot of interesting expressive moves in my repertoire because I don't have a dance background and I'm not used to expressing with my body. Add the balance factor into the equation and it's even harder to do on ice.

    What has worked the best for me is to have my coach/choreographer give me a specific expressive movement and break it down one body part at a time in slow motion until I get it into muscle memory. Then I do it at real speed while standing still, then while actually moving on the ice. Doing it in the mirror (or the plexiglass at the rink) felt weird to me at first, but then I realized everyone else on the ice understood exactly what I was doing and probably had to do it themselves, so I stopped being self-conscious about it. It also helps to look at my skating on video and take note of awkward looking hand and arm positions, then watch videos of my favorite skaters doing the same things and try to imitate their positions exactly (especially that look of "soft hands").
    Last edited by Doubletoe; 05-18-2010 at 12:55 AM.

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    Some people just aren't used to expressing with their bodies so they don't have the "vocabulary" to do it. If someone told me to just go out and express whatever music I was hearing, I might be able to do it OK in bare feet on the floor, but even then, I would not have a lot of interesting expressive moves in my repertoire because I don't have a dance background and I'm not used to expressing with my body.
    Thats it! I was not used at all to express the msuic with my body, not at all and I felt weird to do arm movements to it so I couldn't express it at all. I'm working on it now but it is as hard as learning to skate, while 2nd one is more fun it seems that some low level skater can do it very good but then again their skating is not good. With me its the other way around, I skate good but expressing BAD

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    It is funny. For me it is the other way around. I am not good technically (yet?) but I did an interpretation course in skating a few weeks ago and it came really naturally to me. I just let the music take me and noticed even a lot of improvements in my skating because I wasn't concentrating on the elements that much.

    I have never done ballet or dance in my life but I have always loved just to move to music. Even when I was a toddler I always just danced in the living room when my father was playing the piano.

    So maybe just dancing on your own at home and getting lost in the music might help you?

    What we learned at the interpretation course was also to concentrate on one part of the body and do something with it (be it the shoulder or the buttocks or a hand) and then finish the movement with a defined pause before going to the next part of body.
    I think the tiny pauses are very important.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLOS View Post
    Thats it! I was not used at all to express the msuic with my body, not at all and I felt weird to do arm movements to it so I couldn't express it at all. I'm working on it now but it is as hard as learning to skate, while 2nd one is more fun it seems that some low level skater can do it very good but then again their skating is not good. With me its the other way around, I skate good but expressing BAD
    I think every person's brain just works differently. Some people can't move if they're thinking too much, and others can't move unless they can think through it first, or have every movement broken down for them. The point is, you can figure out which type you are and have your coach work with you in the learning style that suits you best. But either way, these expressive movements CAN be mastered as long as you are willing to put the effort in.

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