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  1. #1
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    Manleywoman SkateCast #66: Ricky Harris interview

    The latest Manleywoman SkateCast is an interview with Ricky Harris, the first dedicated figure skating choreographer, and author of three books on figure skating and choreography. Certainly Sandra Bezic, Lori Nicol, and others wouldn't exist in the same way without her.

    Ricky Harris skated with the Sonia Henie show, and created a series of successful workshops that are being continued by American Ice Theater with Jodi Porter. She did choreography for Evan Lysacek, Michelle Kwan, Babilonia/Gardner, Blumberg/Seibert, Scott Hamilton, Linda Fratianne, and so many more. Ricky Harris talks about what it was like being the first choreographer to sit in the Kiss & Cry, how Scott Hamilton wouldn’t initially take direction from her, and how Frank Carroll and Don Laws were some of her biggest supporters.

    It's on my website at www.manleywoman.com or on iTunes.

    Thanks!
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the interview, manleywoman. I was never really aware of Ricky Harris before, so this is very interesting and enlightening. It's fascinating how she became involved with figure skating (i.e., loving to dance but not being able to get extensive lessons as a youngster and then being turned away from dance schools at the age of 18 because she was considered too old). Then she was introduced to figure skating and reasoned that by learning how to skate she could then train as an ice dancer. Her early ice follies experience and skating in Sonja Henie's shows is such a great story. And then she got married and raised a family, but stayed involved with skating and started to teach young skaters about music and dance and energy balls!

    The anecdotes re Scott Hamilton, Evan Lysacek's Mom and Michelle Kwan's Dad are like , but yeah okay kinda explains a lot too. It might have been good if Evan's Mom had been one of the mothers who realized it was counterproductive for her to hang out at the rink trying to be protective. Evan proved he takes direction very well on DWTS. So, at a young age, if his Mom had not interfered, he may really have been able to learn something beneficial from Ms. Harris about tapping into his innate expressiveness and developing a unique movement quality without having to worry about whether it made him look like a "sissy."

    When Ms. Harris was working with Michelle Kwan, MK was very young so was that before she began training with Frank? From what Ms. Harris describes, it seems as if Michelle's Dad was even more involved at that time and obviously clueless about a lot of things. In any case, Ms. Harris' early influence on Michelle must have taken root in a very positive way, which somehow prepared MK to blossom during her later collaboration with Lori Nichol. And similar to Evan's Mom, it sounds like Scott Hamilton was worried re following the direction of someone who he may have feared might be making him look like a sissy, even though that is not how Ms. Harris specifically described Scott's initial reluctance to work with her directly.

    I'd never heard of Ms. Harris' book. It must be the bible for many coaches and skating choreographers: Choreography and Style for Skaters, and the updated version: Coach's Manual: Choreography and Style for Skaters (the latter written with Frank Carroll). One thing I wondered, when Ms. Harris said that she coined the phrase: "choreography and style," it's not clear what she means by the skating establishment then using the term without her permission. Do you think she means more that the concept or the idea of developing a choreographic style was something not thought about very much until she introduced it, and tried to train young skaters to acquire?

    I enjoyed listening to Ms. Harris discuss the importance of being creative in life, and learning how to harness and be aware of one's own energy.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    The anecdotes re Scott Hamilton, Evan Lysacek's Mom and Michelle Kwan's Dad are like , but yeah okay kinda explains a lot too.
    Agreed. If anything they back up what has been out there for a while. I think Scott Hamilton has grown a lot, since he seemed really rigid about some things in his younger days and now seems much more accepting in his older years.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

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    Here is a small solo by Eugene Turner (Ricki's coach) in the movie "Silver Skates" 1943. The moves are simple but I love the way he flies around ice. http://m.youtube.com/index?&desktop_...?v=m3eiolYVeyM . He also partnered Belita and Sonja Henie. He went into the army soon after and flew 69 missions over Germany before returning to coach.

    I'm surprised Danny Kwan never became a coach himself (Lussi wasn't a skater) given how he seemed to think he knew better than all the professionals that were training his daughters.

  5. #5
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    I love your podcast!

    With my archivist in training hat on, I wonder what you're doing about planning for preservation of and long-term access to your interviews?

    I realize that you are actively working on this podcast, and probably plan to for the future, but it seems like you've gotten enough of a collection to start thinking about where your interviews might go so that people can benefit from them 100 years down the road. Is the http://www.worldskatingmuseum.org/Museum_archives.htm a suitable place?
    Cigarettes are like squirrels. They are perfectly harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it on fire. -- @ciggybuttz on Twitter

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    Thanks for another fascinating interview, manleywoman.

    Allison, has anyone from the museum approached you about that?

  7. #7
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    Hi! I've thought about it, and had others make suggestions on how to preserve these. Everything from a full-scale book to kiosks with headphones at competitions. All great ideas! But I literally barely have the time to do anything right now except for the podcasts themselves. I have about 8 blog posts on skating started and unfinished, and had wanted to do a kickstarter campaign to get me to Sochi. But since I have a new job with limited vacation days I abandoned that one. So many cool ideas and do little time! I'm grateful to Fiona who does my translations, since I'd never have the time to do them myself.

    As for the museum, they have not contacted me directly, but they know of me and listen. The director follows me and I have other friends there.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    Hi! I've thought about it, and had others make suggestions on how to preserve these. Everything from a full-scale book to kiosks with headphones at competitions. All great ideas! But I literally barely have the time to do anything right now except for the podcasts themselves. I have about 8 blog posts on skating started and unfinished, and had wanted to do a kickstarter campaign to get me to Sochi. But since I have a new job with limited vacation days I abandoned that one. So many cool ideas and do little time! I'm grateful to Fiona who does my translations, since I'd never have the time to do them myself.

    As for the museum, they have not contacted me directly, but they know of me and listen. The director follows me and I have other friends there.
    In an era when the sport receives little coverage beyond the Olympic year, your work and ongoing dedication to skating are appreciated around the world.

  9. #9
    podcast mistress
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    ^ Thanks. As always, i wish I had time to do more than once a month. Ideally once per week. But I've gotten a nice steady collection of interviews up now, and I'm thrilled people like and enjoy them.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

  10. #10
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    Really enjoyed this interview, thanks so much..I was LOL when she asked you if you ha heard of Evan Lysacek, very sweet.

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