Pasquale Camerlengo: I try to talk the skaters out of popular tunes. I don't like to hear: "Oh no, not this again!|
Pasquale Camerlengo is one of the choreographers whose name became a brand in figure skating, and his coaching duo with his wife, Angelika Krylova, could compete with those of Marina Zoueva/Igor Shpilband, or Natalia Linichuk/Gennady Karponosov. In the interview to Sports.ru Pasquale Camerlengo talks about competition between French and Russian ice dancing teams and advises what to do if you want to skate to overused music.
Svetlana Veklicheva (SV): First of all, I would like to ask about two of your teams - the French Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat and the Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje. This season wasn't easy - both teams were injured.
PC: We are very glad that we were able to overcome the difficulties and skate at these championships. I was especially worried about Kaitlyn, her ankle was broken, and it is very serious. But Kaitlyn is a true fighter. No one thought she would be able to recover in such short time and skate here, she was off-ice for several months.
SV: Angelika Krylova even said it was a crazy decision.
PC: And I agree with her. After all, we didn't know if Kaitlyn would be able to train through pain. We tried not to force anything, were afraid to make an injury worse, but she was able to cope with everything. Now we do the same with Fabian. Of course, he still feels the pain performing some elements, he has to be very careful in practices, and Nathalie and Fabian are used to always give their best, so now it is difficult for them. They have to watch every step, because one wrong step can ruin everything.
SV: Fabian even fell doing a twizzle in one of the practices. Frankly, I don't even remember when was the last time I saw it…
PC: Yes, it is the consequences of the injury, but don't forget, that it was the first practice, our main goal was to try out the ice and the main rink.
SV: Speaking about the main rink… How difficult it was to adapt the program to the size of Canadian rinks?
PC: It is really difficult, but we managed. The fact that the practice rink is Olympic sized makes it more difficult, because we have to do double work. But we knew the rink sizes before, and we took it into account.
SV: I can't help but ask you about the Russian teams. You watched them at practices.
PC: Yes, I watched them a bit, noted some moments. Actually, every team that competes at these championships is 100% ready, in theory each one can fight for medal, but you can never know. We will see what happens.
SV: Can you say that Ilinykh/Katsalapov or Bobrova/Soloviev are catching up with Pechalat/Bourzat?
PC: It's hard to say, because we didn't have chance to compare them in Zagreb. After the Grand-Prix Final we still had some margin in points, but there wasn't a direct competition at Euros. Personally, I think that we still have some advantage.
SV: In London, you've seen many skaters whom you choreographed for. What feelings do you have when you see the development of a program throughout a season?
PC: Who do we take as an example?
SV: I like the program you choreographed for Michal Brezina.
PC: Our ways haven't crossed during the season, but I knew in advance what he could add to the program, how he could improve it. At practices, when we work on choreography, skaters concentrate on getting the moves right, and in competition I finally see the picture that was in my mind from the beginning. Sometimes, it is an interesting feeling, when you see the result and think to yourself: "Wow, I made a great program!"
SV: Do you have any favorite program or the one you are proud of the most?
PC: I like Akiko Suzuki's free program very much, and, of course, Max Aaron's short, because in his program I tried something new, contemporary dance and hip-hop. I think I am most proud of his program, because I created it from a beginning to an end, it was my idea, I found the music and made the choreography.
SV: Can you reveal a secret, how you create a program?
PC: It depends on the level of a skater, the level of a coach. For example, with Max Aaron, his coach asked me to find something suitable. I watched videos of Max skating and thought about hip-hop. Usually I prefer to listen to the music together with a skater: we listen to a few tracks, and if something "clicks", we continue to work more thoroughly. Of course, some skaters come already with an idea, and then I try to fulfill their expectations.
SV: And which way do you prefer?
PC: I, of course, prefer to choose music, to invent a story, and to create the program together. But we are all rivals, and sometimes coach doesn't like our choice or doesn't understand it. Then I make a list of pro and cons, and we come to a compromise.
SV: What would you say about the music that had already been used in figure skating many times? It's hard to call, for example, "Carmen" an overused music, but we hear it at competitions so often.
PC: I always try to talk skaters out of popular tunes, because I don't want to hear criticisms like: "Oh no, not this again!" But you see, there are such beautiful melodies, that you just cannot say no when you are asked to make a program to it. Then we come up with completely new choreography, something that no one has ever done to this music.
SV: When you hear some beautiful melody, you probably begin to "skate" to it in your head?
PC: Yes. It is, so to speak, a default setting in my brain. I always see an athlete skating to the music, see an image, and I know exactly what happens on the ice at any moment of time.
SV: Are there any skaters you would like to work with?
PC: I will name two: Carolina Kostner and Patrick Chan. I would be very interested in working with them, and it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that they are reigning world champions. I always wanted to work with Carolina. I don't even know why we still haven't. After all, she is Italian, I am Italian, it would be logical if we did something together.
Patrick came to Detroit before the World championships, I had an opportunity to watch him more closely. His skating is special, I would say, he skates more like a dancer, you can give him any choreography and be sure he does it justice.
SV: Speaking of Patrick… We will likely see him taking his third title in London?
PC: The competition is very tight in London, I can only say one thing for sure - at these championships, we will see more quadruple jumps than ever. Some athletes are planning five quads in two programs. Anyway, if Patrick skates to his potential, he should win. We'll find out soon.