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  1. #1

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    Performance/Execution and Interpretation

    My daughter is 13 and skating at Intermediate level this year. Her scores are all over the place, but generally she's been in the top half of her groups and has medaled and made it to final rounds.

    Her PC scores are weaker than technical, performance and interpretation lower than the others, skating skills highest.

    She's not a natural performer and is going through a bit of teen "I don't want to look goofy." It's a paradox, but although she loves to compete, she doesn't like getting "all emotional" in front of people. I know some of this is just time and maturity.

    However, she wants to work on PCS for the remainder of the season and try to more consistently place in top half of group.

    What advice, ideas, exercises, overall philosophy, etc. do you suggest for her? I need to help her tackle this on a practical end (Exercises and explanations for How to project more and How to "hear" the music better and connect to it.) and on the psychological end (e.g. "It may feel weird to project/emote at fist, but the more you do it, the better you'll get", etc.)

    I know dance class is a plus/must. Is there anything else she could try to hone this skill on ice or off ice.

    Thanks!

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    Comedy lessons ?

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    Comedy lessons ?
    Great idea! I used to do improv comedy for years, but of course, rarely do teen daughters want to take direction from their mothers. :-) I'll look for a class or workshop.

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    Do you have showcase events at local competitions? She could try skating to some music that she absiltuely loves, with the only goal being to show off her joy in skating. Not winning, not the actual skating elements, but making people smile.

    I'm an adult skater who had the same problem as your daughter. Way up there in tech, way down there in PE/IN. It took finding some music that I really loved to get me out of my "serious Russian music" skating style. In my case, it was Wallace and Gromit. Then I had to let myself have fun with it (not an easy thing to do), and doing my own choreography helped. This past AN, my PE/IN was one of the highest in the event (although my tech was low, and I expected that for a variety of reasons).

    One more thought. How much participation does she have in the development of her choreography? I find so often that a coach does the choreo, quite often a coach that is not the skater's own, so the choreo is someone else's interpretation of the music. It really, really helps to have a strong input in the development of your own program, and she's old enough to be able to do so.

    Good luck to her.

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    Fake it 'til you make it? It is NOT easy to "put yourself out there," but perhaps if she thought of it as acting a part (in a play/movie/tv show) that might help?
    BARK LESS. WAG MORE.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8er1964 View Post
    How much participation does she have in the development of her choreography? I find so often that a coach does the choreo, quite often a coach that is not the skater's own, so the choreo is someone else's interpretation of the music. It really, really helps to have a strong input in the development of your own program, and she's old enough to be able to do so.
    This is excellent advice. I would add to it, get her involved in the choice of music as well. One of the choreographers at my rink gives the kids a couple of different options (all of which would be suitable for a program), and when they choose the one they want, she gets them to talk about why they chose that one. Is it a style of music they like (and if so why do they like it), is it because they can see themselves moving in a certain way to it, does it make them feel a certain way, like happy, sad, scared, or whatever. And then she uses that in putting the program together with them, and they come up with some great stuff.

    For dance classes, some teachers can focus more on technique, so I would also try to look specifically for something also that includes some sort of improvisation or musical awareness.
    We live in an ageist society where everything is based on youth, but I hated being 18. I don't like teenagers any more now than I did then. I'm 49 now and there is no way that I'd go back to my teens and 20s - even if I knew what I know now, I don't want to go through all that again. I found it a very difficult time. - Buzz Osborne of the Melvins

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    From a judging perspective, I really like it when a skater shows some personality on the ice. Judges need to be engaged and feel like they are drawn into a performance. Sounds silly but smiling and looking like she is enjoying it really helps with that. I am always saying to skaters "I know you love to skate so why not show it?".

    Some acting lessons would probably help with that.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8er1964 View Post
    One more thought. How much participation does she have in the development of her choreography? I find so often that a coach does the choreo, quite often a coach that is not the skater's own, so the choreo is someone else's interpretation of the music. It really, really helps to have a strong input in the development of your own program, and she's old enough to be able to do so.
    This is great advice - I absolutely agree with it. As a skater, I know that I related much better to programs where I had input as to the music and choreography. Especially as I got older, it was important to me to have a voice. As a coach, I have tried really hard to keep that in mind - while I don't always agree with the music my skaters chose, I think it's important for them to skate to something they relate to and enjoy. I give them several options and let them chose, and I think it makes a huge difference as to their performance level.

    Dance classes will also help tremendously with her presentation and I think also with her awareness and understanding of music.

  9. #9

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    My motto about musical interpretation is that you can give a skater all the choreography in the world, but unless they absolutely relate to the music from a very personal level, then it is never going to really work. Musical interpretation has to come from within.
    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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    A skater that age needs expression choreographed into the program. Where to look, when to look, when to make eye contact with the audience as opposed to setting up a double lutz, etc. Having a story with the music certainly helps (when to act happy, sad, suprised, etc). But is not easy or innate; good luck and keep us posted!
    "awwww....shades of Janet Lynn" - Dick Button on anyone who makes more than one mistake in their program.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skatemommy View Post
    A skater that age needs expression choreographed into the program. Where to look, when to look, when to make eye contact with the audience as opposed to setting up a double lutz, etc. Having a story with the music certainly helps (when to act happy, sad, suprised, etc). But is not easy or innate; good luck and keep us posted!
    ITA! Even for an older skater who isn't a natural performer (ahem! Me!) that is very true. This year I have an ice dancer working with me on choreography, transitions, expression, etc., and it is all extremely technical. A dramatic or elegant movement on the ice may LOOK spontaneous and expressive, but it is actually a very specific sequence of body parts moving in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. Practice it 1000 times and it will start to look spontaneous. Choreograph in a smile or look of angst and it looks "expressive." Ice dancers are the best for this, IMO, because this is the kind of thing they spend their time perfecting while the freeskaters are practicing their spins and jumps.

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    I agree, but only to a point. If the movement or expression isn't one that the skater feels comfortable with, then it will often look of feel strained. Or choreographed, which isn't ideal either, IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8er1964 View Post
    I agree, but only to a point. If the movement or expression isn't one that the skater feels comfortable with, then it will often look of feel strained. Or choreographed, which isn't ideal either, IMO.
    True. A good coach will throw a movement out if the skater has practiced it for awhile and given it a fighting chance and it still just doesn't look natural. But if someone isn't naturally expressive, she needs to be given a box of tools--i.e., a physical expression vocabulary--to work with.

  14. #14

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    Thanks all! I posted this and then left for a vacation far from Internet. Reading through all your thoughts and ideas, and it's a big help.

    My daughter does pick her own music - to some extent - but I think we all guided her toward a short program especially that she doesn't feel comfortable with. It's fast, dramatic music that goes well with her natural skating style, but when it comes to connecting with the music beyond that - even with specific choreography added - she's uncomfortable. Her PC score did improve because she has music that suits her style, but beyond that, she's not connected to it.

    I like the idea of doing a fun piece for artistic competition or maybe one of the rink shows. She really wants to do Howl's Moving Castle as a program - which is far more lyrical than anything she's done before and really her not natural style - but maybe now is as good a time as any to experiment. If she really wants to do the music, then maybe she'll be more motivated (or inspired) to project more on the ice.

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    My daughter takes a choreography class. The girls act out different songs for each other (music assigned by the instructor). Kind of like the ISI event where the kids hear music a couple of times and then work out a skate routine but on the dance floor. They get advice and it puts them to work it fast (class is only an hour and at the most they work on the same song for 2 classes) and they have to feel a little silly so it teaches them to get used to that feeling and overcome it so they can focus on the music.

    I would also say playing a music instrument also helps my daughter understand music more.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jozet View Post
    My daughter is 13 and skating at Intermediate level this year. Her scores are all over the place, but generally she's been in the top half of her groups and has medaled and made it to final rounds.

    Her PC scores are weaker than technical, performance and interpretation lower than the others, skating skills highest.

    She's not a natural performer and is going through a bit of teen "I don't want to look goofy." It's a paradox, but although she loves to compete, she doesn't like getting "all emotional" in front of people. I know some of this is just time and maturity.

    However, she wants to work on PCS for the remainder of the season and try to more consistently place in top half of group.

    What advice, ideas, exercises, overall philosophy, etc. do you suggest for her? I need to help her tackle this on a practical end (Exercises and explanations for How to project more and How to "hear" the music better and connect to it.) and on the psychological end (e.g. "It may feel weird to project/emote at fist, but the more you do it, the better you'll get", etc.)

    I know dance class is a plus/must. Is there anything else she could try to hone this skill on ice or off ice.

    Thanks!
    First - Go with the music she wants to use. If she does not like or understand the music and the program, how do you expect me, as a judge to comprehend what she is doing. What does she do in her skating that is fun? - incorperate that.

    Second - Try a Showcase competition
    Morry Stillwell

  17. #17

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    Quick update: my daughter is taking a class on stroking/edges/moves that also works in artistry. This morning, they did some fun improv games that reminded me a lot of stuff I used to do when taking improv acting classes. There was a lot of goofy giggling, but everyone was trying out new moves (not always lovely, but definitely getting out of their comfort zones) and it seemed like a safe space for her to push herself. So, we'll see what happens! She competed a few weeks ago and I can tell she's trying.

    Thanks again!

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