- Rep Power
Fan Q & A with Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
I am the owner of The Weaver & Poje Love tumblr.
Here is the Fan Q & A that we did with Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. I know some of you might be interested in reading it. Enjoy!
Original post: http://theweaverpojelove.tumblr.com/...er-andrew-poje
Fan Q & A with Kaitlyn WEAVER and Andrew POJE
Je suis malade – the highlight of their career
British Eurosport commentators said after your FD performance at Worlds that you didn’t only interpret the story, you lived it.
How did you get into Je suis malade’s mood, feeling of the drama, of all that strong emotion?
KW: Every time we performed “Je Suis Malade” whether it be in practice, simulation, or competition, we had distinct characters to portray and emotions to feel. By putting ourselves into the situation of the story, and tapping into some of our OWN life experiences, the emotions and expressions of the program were easy to feel for us from the soul. However, it did not start like this!
AP: At the beginning of the season, we both understood the story we wanted to get across but we did not know how to make it readable to the audience. So we enlisted the help of an actor named Geoffrey Tyler to help us start the process of understanding what we wanted to say and how to show it. This helped us to create an image and feeling that we could come back to throughout the season.
How did you manage to cut out (or to make us forget about) the technical and competitive aspects of the program?
KW: Thank you for that great compliment, as that is always our goal in our programs. With the International Judging System, ice dance is extremely technical; however we always want to tell a story and connect to the audience. Despite the extreme difficulty of our elements, our team of coaches helped us to highlight each and every step of the program. A crossover is just as important as a lift in a spectator’s eyes, so we did not want to waste a single second that we could be telling a part of the story and connecting it with the rest of the program.
One of our teachers, Kathy Johnson, has been showing us the importance of intention, and we understand that if we feel the program, the audience will feel the program. Everybody inside has the same feelings, but different experiences that help us tap into those feelings. Our connection and commitment to this idea helps us to skate through the program effortlessly and not be so technically minded.
Between all the performances of Je suis Malade which one is special for you? why?
AP: Each performance had its special moments for certain reasons: for example, Skate Canada was the first time we got feedback from an audience and where we understood it could be a great program. Also, performing on the Stars on Ice Tour gave us a chance to focus on the story without having the stress of having technical elements, which made us even more committed. As for my favourite, it would be the Grand Prix Final, because it was the first time we knew the audience truly understood not the only the words but the emotions behind them. We also felt proud of ourselves that we accomplished the daunting task of being in competition-mode every other week, while still creating new moments each time.
Let’s talk about your 2009/2010 Flamenco OD. You went to Spain to learn about flamenco and work with Antonio Najarro. Can you shed some more light on the process of constructing that dance? Would you share with us the most valuable things you took away from that experience?
KW: Going to Spain in the summer of 2009 was an amazing experience we will never forget. Our coach, Pasquale Camerlengo, advised us to work with Antonio and after watching his videos online, we were 100 percent sold. However there was something special about going to Madrid that is hard to describe. We, for a week, were people of Spain: taking in the culture, understanding the language, watching live Flamenco shows in the theatre, and even shopping for fans! Antonio is an amazing teacher, and he taught me that no matter how cold it was in the rink, I would take the ice as if I was in Madrid in 100-degree weather! Because of our trip, I had perfect imagery to come back to and we felt like we knew the dance inside and out. We built the program solely on the floor, and Antonio was my personal fan tutor! Funny enough, throughout the season I became a master of working with the fan, but when I was learning, I think I broke ten fans that first week alone! Looking back, we cannot say enough about Antonio as a person and mentor, and hope that we will work with him again in the future.
This year you had the honor to be member of cast of SOI. How was your experience? How is Kurt Browning affecting your skating?
KW: Becoming a Stars on Ice cast member has always been a dream for me since I was a little girl. When I was small, I went to one of the shows and saw Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov perform. It was that very moment I knew I wanted to become a champion ice dancer. Being on Tour was a huge learning experience, and such a dream come true. Kurt taught me enough that I could write a short novel about it, but the biggest thing I’ll take away is how much fun we all had on the ice as a group—sharing our passion with Canadians across the country.
AP: Being on Stars surpassed my expectations of what I thought a show could be like. It helped me not only grow friendships amongst cast and crew; it helped us to grow our skating differently than how we could have at home. Kurt has always been a childhood hero, and to be able to work under his tutelage was a dream come true. He choreographed the show like he skates, and that’s one thing that helped me grow as a skater. He makes everything look so easy, but I can assure you, it’s not!
What attracts you the most in participating in ice shows?
AP: The opportunity to be in front of an audience and to help us grow as artists, not only as athletes.
KW: I love the feeling of connecting to an audience, and I feel like a show provides an atmosphere where it’s easier to do that. Ice dance is an expression of our soul, just like a painter or a musician, and to share that with people and in a way thank them for appreciating our sport is my favourite thing.
I think both of you have long-term educational goals. Can you work on those at the same time that you train intensively as ice dancers, or do those goals have to be put on hold? If you are working on them, how do you balance that with the time demands of your ice dance training?
KW & AP: We are both currently students at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. Even though we train in Detroit, we are able to still pursue our educational goals at a distance. We usually take one or two courses online per semester, and it really helps to create a diversion to everyday training and gives our minds a break. It doesn’t take much each day to keep our studies up, but consistency is very important! Thankfully our teachers are also understanding of our predicament and they help support us where they can.
If you were putting together a young ice dance team, what would be the most important things that you would look for? Talent? Work ethic? Particular personality traits? Other things that you consider important to ice dance success?
AP: I think a love for the sport and competitive spirit are the most important.
KW: Putting together a young ice dance team would be SO much fun!!! But I think Andrew hit it right on the head. I for one did not have any natural talent as a young dancer whereas Andrew has all the talent in the world. But both of us have a love for the sport that makes anything possible.
You have had great coaches throughout your careers. If you were giving advice to young skaters or their parents, what suggestions would you give them in choosing a coach? Is finding a great coach largely a matter of luck, or are there particular things that the skaters or parents can look for in the coach?
KW: Everyone’s path to greatness is different. Our path has led us to work with a myriad of extremely talented coaches, mentors, and skaters that have helped to mould us into the team we are today.
AP: Both the parents and the skater must have trust in their coach. I think that’s most important. Every teacher is different, but knowledge and passion for the sport are inherent in every successful coach/mentor.
Kaitlyn, was the move to Canada a difficult transition?
KW: I was so excited to skate with Andrew after the tryout that moving to Canada was not a difficult transition. Thankfully, the Kitchener-Waterloo community was so incredibly kind and generous to me and truly made me feel at home. My coaches, my partner, and the amazing Poje family made my transition so easy and comfortable. I was more than excited to start on my new adventure with Andrew and I don’t regret any of those decisions for the world. In the beginning, I was ostracized by some of my American friends, but over time, Andrew and I found many friends around the world and deep down, countries don’t define friendship!
Figure skating memories
What is your all-time favorite program? What is your favorite execution of it and why?
KW: This is a hard question, because every program has a special place in my heart for different reasons. I think my favorite program is “Je Suis Malade”. Our Dr. Zhivago free dance is a close second, and our “At Last” short dance is tied with Moulin Rouge for third. My favorite execution that really stands out to me is performing our “At Last” short dance at the Canadian championships where we were gunning for gold. We took the ice with a perfect demeanor: calm, relaxed, and connected. It was an amazing high for us to finish that program and receive a standing O and I was in complete bliss for the entire two minutes and fifty seconds. Moving to “Malade” though, it’s hard to pick a favorite, as Andrew was talking about earlier. I’m so proud though that we could connect with the audience everywhere we performed it, and received seven standing ovations during that competitive season.
AP: My favorite program and performance would be our Phantom of the Opera free dance at the Four Continents Championships in 2010. It’s not because it was our greatest skate or greatest achievement, but because we showed the world and more importantly ourselves that no matter what, our goals are greater than the adversity we encounter.
What are your most memorable performances/skating programs from figure skating history (could be in ice dance or all disciplines)?
AP: My favorite program is Kurt Browning’s “Singing in the Rain” TV special. It stands out in my mind because it was the first time that I realized figure skating was more than a technical sport. It can be a form of artistry as well, and no matter when I watch the program, I always leave the video with a smile!
KW: My all-time favorite program is the Michael Jackson free dance by Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz during the 2002 Olympics. I think I’ve watched that video a thousand times, and it will never, ever get old. Andrew makes fun of me because I can replicate most of the choreography! It was such an exciting performance and reminds me of an important message. Even though they fell at the end of the program and lost the Olympic medal, they committed whole-heartedly to the entire dance and laid everything on the line, at the biggest competition of their career. The fearlessness and courage they displayed is so inspiring to me.
Who is your favorite retired dance team? Who is your favorite current dance team?
KW: I think it would be impossible for me to choose a favorite retired dance team! I consider myself a big figure skating fan, and I grew up watching countless videos and studying each team. However, among my favorites are: Annenko/Sretinsky, Bourne/Kraatz, Krylova/Ovsiannikov, Torvill/Dean, Dubreuil/Lauzon, Grushina/Goncharov, and Grishuk/Platov. Growing up I thought every team of the past had a quality to model myself after, so I took something from everyone. Currently, my favorite team is Virtue/Moir. I believe they are the most well rounded team on the circuit and incorporate not only a finely honed technical skill, but also great choreography and story telling.
AP: I would have to say my favourite past ice dancers would be Shae and Victor because I grew up with them, and they inspired me to dance. Every team in the sport currently stands out for different reasons in my mind, because they all have different attributes I admire. I train to become a better-rounded skater by using these teams as inspiration.
Interaction with other skaters
What are the good things about having a direct competitor (Péchelat/Bourzat) training at the same rink as you do? What are the bad things (or perhaps there aren't any)? Do you learn things from them? Do they learn things from you? Do you sometimes feel some rivalry?
AP: There are lots of benefits to having Nathalie and Fabian at our rink. Because we are both pushing for the same goal, it’s easy for us to use our competitive spirits to work off of each other. They help us to grow every day by not letting us become complacent.
KW: We don't see any negative things to training with our direct competitors. Quite the contrary; not only are we motivated, but it also adds an extra level of comfort when we are traveling abroad and performing at competitions. There’s someone there who has shared everything with you and luckily the four of us are all friends. Nath and Fab are extremely strong and well-seasoned skaters, so we learn from them all the time. And of course we feel some rivalry, but it’s never malicious or intense. We use it to benefit the both of us.
There are quite a few teams training at your rink who have less experience than you do. Do you do any mentoring of them?
KW: Our group is extraordinary because it spans across many levels of ice dance. There are several younger teams who sometimes share the ice with us, and we are very sensitive to how they view us and how they view high-level ice dance. We try to be good role-models on and off the ice, and when someone is having a bad day, no matter what level, there’s always a training mate there to help cheer them up. Even though we are all from different countries, speak different languages or what have you, we are all very supportive of each other.
Can you tell us more about your short dance? What pieces of music did you chose from The Sound of Music soundtrack? Do you have a concept for your costumes?
KW: Despite our initial trepidation for skating the Yankee Polka in a short dance, we actually really enjoy our program this year to The Sound of Music. We’ve used a medley from the soundtrack arrangedby Arthur Fiedler, including “Edelweiss”, “Favourite Things”, and “Do Re Mi”. We have a lot of fun with this program and the characters are so easy to get into! I love Julie Andrews and I surely don’t mind watching the movie over and over to better study it!
Why did you choose The Sound of Music for your short dance?
AP: We chose the Sound of Music for our short dance because it’s one of our favourite movies. Kaitlyn brought up the music on the flight home from Nice because she’s a person who can never get her mind off skating and our team quickly took to the idea. The music for the short dance became even more poignant with the passing of my Oma (grandmother). I am of German descent, and have grown up with the German/Austrian culture surrounding me. “Edelweiss” was amongst my Oma’s favourite songs, and gives it that much more meaning to skate to as a tribute to her spirit.
What made you chose to work with So You Think You Can Dance star Allison Holker for this year's FD? Where the idea did came from?
AP: We wanted to bring integrity to our choreography and knowing that we wanted to take a contemporary approach, our team knew we needed to enlist the help of a specialist in that field. We watch So You Think You Can Dance on a regular basis, and Allison was Kaitlyn’s all-time favourite.
KW: We reached out to several potential choreographers, and when Allison responded so positively, we knew that she would be the perfect match. It was a risk to use someone that has never choreographed for figure skating before, but Andrew, Pasquale and I thought that it would bring fresh ideas and a new outlook to our program. We were right!
AP: Allison was amazing to work with and was probably the most fun we’d ever had choreographing a program. She and Pasquale meshed so well together and I think we’ve created something unique and different.
What is the music of your new Free Dance? How did you choose it?
KW: The music of our new free dance is from “The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers”, a dance group that also has a mini-series online. It’s a combination of modern and classical, and is a huge departure for us. We always want to push ourselves to different heights through different styles.
AP: This year was different than others because we chose our story before we chose the music. Kaitlyn came up with the inspiration of the story, and after explaining the concept, Pasquale came up with the perfect soundtrack. It’s funny because Stella, Pasquale’s seven year-old daughter was playing on his iPad and came across the video on YouTube. It immediately caught his attention, and he called us right after!
How lifts have changed in execution and difficulty throughout your carrier (especially with the new levels system) and where do you get new ideas for lifts?
AP: With the development and enhancement of the judging system, it has pushed us to come up with ideas that still conform to the rules, yet are unique and individual to us.
KW: Our lifts have definitely become more difficult as the years go on, but we’ve also found some incomplex lifts that satisfy the technical panel yet are still stylistic and beautiful. Sometimes music doesn’t call for acrobatics, and I think we find lifts that best suit our abilities and also our music.
What is your schedule when you are training in Detroit/describe your typical day?
AP: Our day starts early in the morning with our first practice around 7am. After a few hours on the ice, we have a lunch break and a ballet class; then our second practice, followed by a session in the gym. Depending on the day, we will have another dance class or spend time stretching in the ballet room.
What and who is involved in designing and making your costumes? Which of you two has more input, besides your coaching team?
KW: We don’t really have a recipe for our costumes; each year is very different from the last! Some years we will utilize a ballroom company, while others, like this year, we are trying out a theatrical designer for the first time. I even go back to the dressmaker that made my childhood costumes. We like to receive opinions from our large team though, because everyone has a unique perspective and great advice on packaging. While both of us definitely have to agree and feel comfortable and confident in our costumes, I would say I have a little more input.
How does your music picking and choreography process go? How much input do you have in it?
AP: Our entire team searches for our music each year. Every season is different, with inspiration coming from different places. I think everyone knows the story of how “Je Suis Malade” was chosen, when an anonymous fan sent it in through our website. Other years, Kaitlyn and I have found the music ourselves. What’s most important is that we are connected to the music and feel like we have a story to tell with it. If we aren’t connected, then we won’t want to listen to it and interpret it for a whole year!
As far as the choreography goes, Pasquale is the boss. Even if we use outside choreographers or helpers, he is the person who always stays constant. We have a little bit of input because Pasquale will always tailor the programs perfectly to the team, but if he has a vision, it’s our job to embody it!
Who normally handle better the pressure just before stepping on the ice?
KW: We both handle the pressure best when we’re together. Individually I think we would be more nervous, but it seems that before every performance, we fill in each other’s weak or doubting spots. For example, if I’m nervous one day, Andrew will help me push through it and maintain my mojo. If Andrew is nervous, then I know how to help him center and focus. I’d say though that I’ve been more nervous in the past, definitely. But now that we are becoming more confident in our programs and abilities, we are both able to handle the pressure quite well, remembering one thing—no matter how big or small the competition is, our job remains the same!
When/where do you plan to officially open the competition this season?
AP: I’m proud to say that our first competition will be at the 2012 Ondrej Nepela Memorial Trophy in Bratislava, Slovakia. I am half Slovakian, so I’m very excited to unveil our programs in front of a warm crowd of friends and family!
KW: I’m also happy that we are flying through Austria, because that is where the Sound of Music was set! We get a bit of history on our journey before competing!
Do you think you have found your own skating style? Can you define it?
AP: I think a goal we have always had is to not be defined as a one-style team. We feel that it would not be pushing our limits as competitors and artists. We always try to ensure to push the boundaries of what we think our comfort zone is.
KW: I agree, but adding to that, I think our skating style could be defined as emotional. It doesn’t block us in to any one style of music, but I know that if we can emotionally relate to the piece, then it will be a good program! It’s very hard for me to turn off that part of my brain and just focus technically, which can sometimes get me into trouble! Ha ha
What is your dream piece of music to skate to?
KW: I have about one hundred dream pieces of music! Several are pieces that we have already used, while some I like to keep in my collection until the time is right. One of my all-time dream pieces of music was The Phantom of the Opera, and lucky for me we were able to use it for our free dance one year. I have a very special piece that I’m saving for later… and I think that will have to stay under wraps until then!
AP: I never put too much thought into looking ahead… I tend to take it year by year with our music and programs. My favourite piece always tends to be the one I’m currently skating to!
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
AP: We want to continue growing in our partnership, and pushing to continue our upward momentum! I feel like we’ve just started to taste what we can achieve.
KW: I agree with Andrew completely. Each year we make more and more progress in so many different areas. Not only do we grow technically each year, we are starting to own our skating and show our passion on the ice confidently. I also definitely believe we can jump onto the World podium and make history by having two Canadian dance teams in the top three.
What are your future plans beyond Sochi? Retirement or continuing amateur skating?
KW & AP: We like to take our career four years at a time, so for now we can only think as far ahead as Sochi! We are still very young, and there could be many more years in our future, but a lot depends on how we feel then, and if we think that we’ve accomplished all we can do in the sport!
Kaitlyn, what is your favorite meal from what Andrew cooks?
KW: I love when Andrew barbecues pizza! He chops up all of my favourite vegetables and fresh mozzarella and it always tastes delicious!
(To both) What is your favorite book?
AP: It’s hard for me to pick a favourite book because I’m not much of a reader even though I’m trying to correct that. One series of books that are at the top of my list right now would be the Dan Brown series: The Da Vinci Code, Angeles and Demons, and The Lost Symbol.
KW: My favourite book is The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I have a lot of titles on my list of favourites, but this one really hit home and has stayed in my heart ever since I read it for the first time. It’s about how you can inadvertently affect someone else’s life, for the better or worse, and is an incredible story. I really recommend it!
What is your favorite dessert?
KW: ANYTHING sweet! I am a huge dessert fan, and I can never, ever, turn down a cookie.
AP: Unlike Kaitlyn I’m not one to go straight for the dessert table. I would much rather have another plate of an entrée. But if I were to have a dessert, it would be real Italian-style gelato.
Andrew, which of Kaitlyn’s costumes is your favorite? Kaitlyn, same question for you (about Andrew’s costumes).
AP: Tiger! It’s always one that puts a smile on not just my face but hers as well!
KW: I think my favourite is going to be Andrew’s new free dance costume. It is made out of really neat materials and is a different look than what he usually has.
What is your favorite thing about each other?
AP: Being with Kaitlyn always makes me feel better about myself because she laughs at my silly jokes! More importantly, I know that no matter what, I can trust her whole-heartedly.
KW: Andrew knows me better than sometimes I know myself, and I know he’s always there for me. I am so lucky to have him as a partner and mostly, a best friend.
Can you describe each other in three words?
KW: Caring, courageous, and creative.
AP: Intelligent, beautiful, and kind.
Kaitlyn & Andrew's message for their fans
"We’d like to add a personal, heart felt THANK YOU to everyone who has stuck with us on our journey. Sometimes we both wake up in the morning and wonder how we got to the place we are at now, and none of it would be possible without the help of our family and fans. No matter what, we know where to look for a word of encouragement, and you all are ALWAYS there for us. We are trying our very best every day to make you all proud. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! We are so blessed."
The Weaver & Poje Love Tumblr would love to thank:
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje for giving their fans the opportunity to ask them questions and to know more about them.
Every single fan for participating in the project and sending these very interesting questions.
The photographers, for their awesome work:
- David Carmichael (http://davecskatingphoto.com/) - Kurt Browning, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje performing “A Life Loved” group number at 2012 Stars on Ice Halifax.
- Danielle Earl - Weaver & Poje skating their Latin Short Dance at 2012 Canadian Nationals.
- Natasha Ponarina - Weaver & Poje skating their “Je suis malade” Free Dance at 2011 Rostelecom Cup; Weaver & Poje, silver medalists at 2011 Rostelecom Cup.
- Jacque Tiegs - Weaver & Poje, season 2011-2012 photoshoot.
Amy Bel and Melania Resnigo (@Mellyres) for all the help and the support during this project.
Thank you !!!!!!!!!!!!!
And thanks to them !!! THIS are so many questions !!
And they both answered !!!!
thank you !!!
this enlighten my grey day !!!
now I have toread thisss !!!
Thank you so much.
- Rep Power
Thanks. Interesting questions and great answers!
I really enjoyed reading it.
Thankyou very much great reading.Good luck to them.It's going to be an interesting battle for them with P/B .Hope they stay after Sochi.
i have never thought of do-re-mi as a polka choice, but i like it better than the lonely goatherd song, which i was afraid that they were gonna dance to
Thanks! Cant wait to see new FD. Sound cool!
I really don't know what to say,
it's so interesting all this.
And they have both written so much, they write like they skate, with all their heart !
Questions are all so good and answer so full of details that otherwise we 'd never known !
As a fan, this is a preciuos interview !!
The message of Kaitlyn is so sweet and so modest.
I can't wait to see this new programs !!!
Amazing interview! Thanks so much!
Andrews favorite costume of Kaitlyns, is the Tiger outfit some people here were complained about at that time.
This is great. I was wondering when the questions were gonna be answered and it was nice of them to take the time to answer these. I'm the one that asked about the plans after Sochi lol.
I have to admit I loved the tiger outfit too and also the slip - one strap off the shoulder messy look as well. So far I have liked all of their outfits - also really liked the elegant slow dance outfit of Kaitlin's from the year before.