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  1. #501

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    I think it's definitely possible to overcome Confucius modesty and become expressive in performing arts. An immediate example would be the Japanese skaters: look at how much star quality there is - and this is a people who may be an even more reserved culturally than the Chinese as a whole. There have also been plenty of outstanding Chinese actors / actresses who are not afraid of the stage and are able to be expressive and perform. I think the problem with the Chinese skaters in the past was that they didn't yet see figure skating as a performing art form, but just merely a sport. The idea and need to express have never been drilled into them when it comes to skating. In the selection process (whatever it may be), they have not been encouraging "performance" so much as "athleticism".
    But I think this is definitely changing.

  2. #502
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    Skaters are selected by the state system for their athletic qualities, just as Chinese ballet dancers are chosen for their technique. There's no self-selection like in most Western skating or ballet training, aside from full-time, integrated-with-academia schools like the Vaganova Academy or Royal Danish Ballet School, where they start serious training as early as eight and selection is done by the school. They are not selected for their performance ability. If they have it, great, but that's a bonus, and if they don't, they can only try to develop it.

    Ballerina Darci Kistler, who was cast as Odette in Balanchine's "Swan Lake, Act II" at 15 as a student and within two season of joining NYCB, said Balanchine told her, "Don't look at your partner. You're not in love with your partner." She said she thought (paraphrase) "WTF? Isn't love the point of that Pas de Deux?" She realized that Balanchine told her this because she didn't have the experience to make it real; at that point the best she could have done is an imitation, when he wanted her to be herself, and that was the gift he gave her. (There's a rudimentary video of her school performance, and from the excerpts of it shown in the "Dancing for Mr. B" video, she was ravishing.) Skaters have that luxury if they work with choreographers that give them material that doesn't put them in "fake it" territory, but most of the time, there's an expectation that they project in one of a few narrow ways.

    Ilinykh could make a lot look real from and early age, but Russia, with a parallel performing tradition, would encourage a skater with performance quality. I don't think it's coincidental that Dance has been the weakest discipline for China: there's little reward for pure athleticism, which can make a Pairs team jump up in the ranks early. Kexin Zhang might not be competitive with Asada or Kostner because of lack of expression, but she was still close to being seeded based on athleticism.

    Certainly the trauma of the Cultural Revolution for decades after the duration itself, when practice of Western arts was illegal -- and skating performance is based on Western arts -- and the era of Mao suits, where being tiffed was considered subversive, mostly has been mitigated, although their are often remnants of frightened and repressive behavior that get perpetuated, even without being conscious of their origin.
    Last edited by kwanfan1818; 04-30-2014 at 05:36 PM.
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  3. #503

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    Judging by seeing photos on Weibo(Chinese Twitter) posted by Cheng Peng and Han Yan, Team China is in Canada now. I assume they are there to work with Lori Nichol like they did last spring. I recognized Han Yan, Nan Song, Zijun Li, Peng/ Zhang, Sui/Han, Yu/Jin and Wang/Wang. Hope Kexin was in the bathroom when they took group photos.

  4. #504
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    What's the deal with Li Mingzhu ? It's seems like she teaches bad technique and breaks people before she moves on.. Any info on her?

  5. #505
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    The article about Zhang mentioned he was going abroad soon after the wedding, so no surprise there re him in Canada

  6. #506
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    I wonder what hand Mingzhu Li had in modifying her students' choreography. I wonder without her around, whether the programs would end up looking better or worse... I would imagine that Chenjiang Li probably would be more hands-off in terms of the actual choreography. I wish the Chinese skaters could stay longer to train in Canada. It'd be amazing if they could train for a while with Brian Orser. I feel like he could really help them gain better basic skating skills as well as more polish in general. Of course, having more of Lori Nichol would help too, but I imagine she's very busy right now with the new programs for everyone.

  7. #507

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    Reportedly Han YAN is scheduled to spend six weeks in Canada (May 10-June 20), according to the "Han Yan Fan Van" Twitter account, which posted Han's off-season schedule plan: http://pic.twitter.com/bBsbfBlCAL
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

  8. #508
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvia View Post
    Reportedly Han YAN is scheduled to spend six weeks in Canada (May 10-June 20), according to the "Han Yan Fan Van" Twitter account, which posted Han's off-season schedule plan: http://pic.twitter.com/bBsbfBlCAL
    Oh, that's fantastic! I wonder if Zijun Li will also have the same opportunity. The pairs would benefit as well, but they are not in as dire a situation as Zijun Li.

  9. #509
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    Quote Originally Posted by feraina View Post
    Oh, that's fantastic! I wonder if Zijun Li will also have the same opportunity. The pairs would benefit as well, but they are not in as dire a situation as Zijun Li.
    Actually all the Chinese team has arrived Toronto, including Han Yan, Nan Song, Zijun Li, and 4 pairs(P/Z,S/H,Y/J and W/W). They will work with Lori for choreography, and have some lessons as well.

  10. #510
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    It's rumored (from twitter) that David Wilson will also choreograph for the Chinese team. Han Yan, Zijun and P/Z will have two programs from Lori, Nan Song will have one from Lori and another from David, the rest 3 pairs (S/H,Y/J and W/W) will all have both SP and LP choreographed by David.

  11. #511
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceflame View Post
    It's rumored (from twitter) that David Wilson will also choreograph for the Chinese team. Han Yan, Zijun and P/Z will have two programs from Lori, Nan Song will have one from Lori and another from David, the rest 3 pairs (S/H,Y/J and W/W) will all have both SP and LP choreographed by David.
    Interesting. I wonder how that's determined. Maybe Lori charges more, and they chose choreographers based on team ranking. I guess this means they continue to see P/Z as #1. S/H will really have to work hard this season to prove themselves; sad that they got put into the same category as Y/J and W/W. They didn't even give them one program from Lori, as they did for Nan Song, who hasn't had nearly the international success as S/H have. Oh, well...

    As for the actual choreography, I don't think having David is necessarily worse than Lori. I've really liked some programs with David, and many of them have scored quite high too (e.g. Yuna's). He did a great job with that flamenco SP Caroline Zhang had in her first senior season, and managed to bring out her best qualities (and take her performance to the next level) while cleverly covering up some of her deficiencies.

  12. #512

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    The pairs teams are currently working wih Lori at the Scarborough rink in Toronto (where Gilles & Poitier skate). I have heard that they are very respectful of all skaters, no matter their level, and are very good about getting out of the way for whomever the music is playing.

  13. #513

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    Sounds like lots of promising programs ahead for the Chinese team

  14. #514
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    Quote Originally Posted by feraina View Post
    Interesting. I wonder how that's determined. Maybe Lori charges more, and they chose choreographers based on team ranking. I guess this means they continue to see P/Z as #1. S/H will really have to work hard this season to prove themselves; sad that they got put into the same category as Y/J and W/W. They didn't even give them one program from Lori, as they did for Nan Song, who hasn't had nearly the international success as S/H have. Oh, well…

    As for the actual choreography, I don't think having David is necessarily worse than Lori. I've really liked some programs with David, and many of them have scored quite high too (e.g. Yuna's). He did a great job with that flamenco SP Caroline Zhang had in her first senior season, and managed to bring out her best qualities (and take her performance to the next level) while cleverly covering up some of her deficiencies.
    You seem to imply that Lori is a better, or more 'important' choreographer than David. Or that the Chinese Fed thinks so. I find that puzzling. I don't think Lori is either better or more 'important'.
    My travel and adventure blog http://alisonanddon.wordpress.com

  15. #515
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    Quote Originally Posted by alilou View Post
    You seem to imply that Lori is a better, or more 'important' choreographer than David. Or that the Chinese Fed thinks so. I find that puzzling. I don't think Lori is either better or more 'important'.
    No, I said I personally don't think DW is any worse than Lori. However, I did hear Lori charges about 1/3 more than David, so from Chinese Fed's point of view, they probably decided to only allow the "top tier" athletes have programs from Lori. I would love to see S/H get one program each from Lori and David. It'd be good if they could work with more choreographers, learn more from everyone, and get a little more diversity in their style (for that matter, I think it would've been better for both Zijun Li and P/Z to also get one program each from Lori & David). However, two programs from David is definitely not bad either. I'm more bothered that the Chinese Fed is treating S/H at the same level as Y/J and W/W, and not even as highly regarded as Song Nan. Last year it was about participating in the Olympics, right now it's about choreography. What about next time? Worlds spot? Off-ice training/dance lessons? Who knows how they're prioritizing resources in other, perhaps less visible, ways.

    The problem is that Song Nan's coach politicks hard for him, while S/H's coaches don't (they politicked for P/T and now for P/Z); they're treated like Yao Bin's step kids that he only begrudgingly bestows the most basic resources on; and Yao Bin is the most powerful person in Chinese figure skating. If Yao Bin fully retired, I think S/H would have a better chance; because even though S/Z have always been Yao Bin's favorites ("first borns"), I feel like Zhao goes out of his way to show fairness (certainly that's how he came across in a long interview prior to the Olympics). I feel like he probably has some moderating influence in these matters. I wouldn't be surprised if he advocated the idea of having a pre-determined point-system to choose the Olympic teams (though P/T were exempted) -- which is the first time the Chinese fed has over done this. If it was only up to Yao Bin, I'm sure he would've picked P/T and P/Z at the start of the season without a second thought. S/H were lucky that Yao Bin was having surgery and then going through recovery most of the Olympics season, so that they at least had a faint chance of beating out P/Z, thought it would always have been an uphill battle, because the 1/3 points from domestic competitions were always going to go against them.

    There's a real conflict of interest in the Chinese skating system. There is no separation between the coaches and the federation. The national team both trains the top athletes and decides whom to send to which competitions, and whom to send abroad to get choreography/training and to which coach/choreographer. Yao Bin was/is both the head coach for pairs in the national team, as well as the head of the National Team. Usually the better young skaters get sent onto the national team at an early age, but S/H's coach has been on bad terms with Yao Bin ever since they split as former partners (he has blamed their lack of success to her technical deficiency to the media over the years), and probably by mutual agreement S/H (and Y/J) didn't enter the national team until after both had already competed on the senior GP's, and only after Zhao took over the daily training of the pairs group at the National Team. So Yao Bin never directly trained S/H, and was always cool about them when asked by the press... Something similar has happened to the Men's team. Song Nan has managed to hold on to #1 status and then joint #1 status for far longer than his results would warrant. I still think how unfortunate that Yan Han wasn't sent to Worlds' last year. He could've probably gotten two spots and both of them would've profited: he would've gotten more senior experience before the Olympics, and Song would've gotten to go to the Olympics. Sad. I don't really know much about Song Nan's coach, but he must be quite powerful politically. Yan Han's coach is definitely not powerful. He is her first really good skater, and she has said in interviews she grew up as a coach while coaching him; they have a story much like Jason Brown and Kori Ade. I'm really happy that he was not discouraged by being kept in the junior level for so long (after he won JW when Chinese has so few top men, come on!), and kept on working hard and bringing home results, to rise above the odds against him. If S/H wants to ever be recognized as #1 in China, they would probably have to beat P/Z consistently for two seasons first. But at least Yan Han always had his coach's moral and practical support. I don't know that S/H really have anyone like that to depend on. They were seen crying/looking really glum together a few times by just themselves after some domestic competitions and training sessions in the past year. Well, I can just hope that Yao Bin retires soon, and that Zhao treats everyone fairly even though he and Zhang Hao go way back... Although in Chinese politics, it seems formal retirements don't mean much. And I can't imagine Yao Bin would really take his hands off on the important decisions, even if he lets go of the daily training stuff.
    Last edited by feraina; 05-21-2014 at 08:58 AM.

  16. #516
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    Okay now I understand. Thanks for all this info about what's going on in China
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  17. #517

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    Thanks feraina. I hope those who got to train in Canada will make the best use of their time there. Don't be shy! Pick the brains of these brilliant choreographers. Looking forward to their programs.
    Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them. – Publilius Syrus

  18. #518

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    Quote Originally Posted by feraina View Post
    As for the actual choreography, I don't think having David is necessarily worse than Lori. I've really liked some programs with David, and many of them have scored quite high too (e.g. Yuna's). He did a great job with that flamenco SP Caroline Zhang had in her first senior season, and managed to bring out her best qualities (and take her performance to the next level) while cleverly covering up some of her deficiencies.
    Caroline Zhang's 2008-09 short program was choreographed by Tom Dickson.

    ETA:
    Quote Originally Posted by feraina View Post
    If Yao Bin fully retired, I think S/H would have a better chance; because even though S/Z have always been Yao Bin's favorites ("first borns"), I feel like Zhao goes out of his way to show fairness (certainly that's how he came across in a long interview prior to the Olympics).
    Are you referring to this interview? (summarized by you earlier in this thread) http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/show...=1#post4094501
    Or another one?
    Last edited by Sylvia; 05-21-2014 at 02:29 PM.
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

  19. #519
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    Sylvia, yes that's the interview. And you are right about tom dickson. You remember everything!
    I think David Wilson gave p/t some really nice programs, no? Like their 2010 FS which broke the isu record. I loved that program.

  20. #520

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    Quote Originally Posted by feraina View Post
    I think David Wilson gave p/t some really nice programs, no? Like their 2010 FS which broke the isu record. I loved that program.
    I thought Berton Hotarek's FP this season, by David Wilson, was terrific.
    Sadly they were not able to deliver it to perfection after Skate Canada.I so wanted to watch that program grow.

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