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1990 Ice Dance Revisited

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Jun Y, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

    Around 2000s when I first started going to internet skating forums, there was a general perception that the North American ice dance community prefers ballroom styles, while Russian/French/European ice dance community prefers dramatic, storytelling, nonballroom styles. Recently I looked at some early 1990s ice dance programs and found this theory to be ... not too reliable.

    A comparison among the top three free dances is pretty interesting.

    Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, music from the movie soundtrack Missing, choreographed by Christopher Dean:

    Usova and Zhulin, music from Piazzolla's tangos, choreographed, I assume, by Natalia Dubova:

    Klimova and Ponomarenko, music from My Fair Lady the musical, choreographed also by Dubova (most likely):

    The two Soviet teams were actually more ballroom than the French/Canadian team. I wonder how commentators like Tracy Wilson and Susie Wynne, who have often implied a higher regard for orthodox ballroom style on ice, really feel about these programs.

    By the 1992 Olympic season, the Soviet teams saw the writing on the wall and adopted the nonballroom style for their free dance. By the time of the 1994 Olympic season, however, no-drama floor dances returned to dominance.

    It is also interesting to compare the judging considerations between then and now. The more I look at it, the more I am uncertain about what is more important in the sport of ice dance --- technical difficulty and ability versus originality and "that undefinable artistic quality" (or maybe I'm wrong and it is neither).

    We all know how these programs were judged in 1990. If they are judged now, would the verdict be any different? If yes, does that mean the standards of what is considered ideals of ice dance have changed in the past 15 years? Over the years, I see the pendulum swing back and forth between drama vs ballroom in ice dance. My guess is that it will continue to swing. Funny to realize that the arguments get rehashed every generation (8 to 10 years).
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  2. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    It was the first Worlds that Tracy commentated in (I think in 1989 she did fluff pieces and interviews). She did the Dance for the CBC alongside Toller. Toller LOVED LOVED the Duchesneys but Tracy made note of some flaws and potential rule violations. She was very complimentary of U&K and K&P.
  3. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

    I think in some cases this narrative was used to trash the Russian/European style. Not always, but it often came with comments that all the Russians do is throw their heads around dramatically to distract from the fact that they are not doing real footwork. I've seen Grishuk & Platov described as one of those "melodramatic Russian dance teams" and that's just so untrue except for their FD in 98 and maybe 97. For most of their career, they were actually very traditional and ballroom. I also resented a lot of the comments when V&M won their OGM that they were "bringing back real dancing, the first since T&D" (who obviously weren't North American but were preferred over Euro teams in NA). It's like, I know people have issues with some Russian/French teams, but are you really going to tell me that K&P "didn't really dance?" As you pointed out, they were quite ballroom, and they really only had two dramatic FDs, and those programs had plenty of dance (contemporary/ballet) content.

    I do think ballroom type dancing was very popular with many top NA couples, but I never saw how it could be considered their purview, since all the couples had to perform ballroom in the CD/OD anyway. In that sense, a couple who chose to do non-ballroom in the FD was more versatile.

    Well, in today's ice dance toe point, posture, and generally tidiness are less important. If the Duschenays skate with aggressive speed and capture the attention of the audience, they could beat K&P's effortless speed and grace in PCS. The elimination of CDs also helps them. That being said, though, in order to get the levels, the Ds would have to hit the correct edges in the footwork, and I don't know if Isabelle was in technik enough for that. If K&P and U&Z were the only ones getting level 4s, then they'd dominate. It's hard to say, because they didn't choreograph their programs to today's standards.
  4. lala

    lala Well-Known Member

    I can't an expert way to analyze the ice dance, but I am sure that the old programs were much better. There were skaters who liked the style of ballet, there were pairs who favored dancing programs, but those were varied and interesting. Today each program are very similar, there are too many optional items, they can't enforce the skaters in the artistic effect, only the top 3-4 pairs.
  5. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

    It might be true, although no one has officially admitted, whether toe point or good posture is less important today than it was before. Still, there are principles in ice dance or skating that, I would imagine, hold true for then as well as now. It is still recognized that having a higher percentage of one-footed skating is more difficult, more turns in both directions are more difficult than mostly unidirectional skating, a couple skating close to each other is more difficult (because the risk of tangling and falling down is greater) than skating separately, face-to-face skating is more difficult than side-by-side skating, skating in unison (including timing and matched movements) is more difficult, and maintaining/generating speed through steps and turns and edges is more difficult than crossovers, stroking, or push push push. Although it does seem to me that judges today do not appear to heavily penalize less-than-optimal toe points, matching lines, or difficult and varied handhold positions.

    It goes without saying that, in sports, greater physical demand (ie, difficulty) is rewarded ubiquitously. Artistic creativity? Not so much in sports. Perhaps rarely. What looks pretty or moves the heart (at least some hearts) or tickles the mind could be relatively easy to achieve. Hence the debate continues.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  6. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    Here's Tracy and Toller's commentary:

    Isabelle & Paul Duchesnay FD 1990 World Figure Skating Championships
  7. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    I miss the 1990s ice dance. It was simpler, purer, focused on the basics- edges, turns, positions. I appreciate the difficulty of what today's ice dancers are doing, and innovation is important in sports, but when I watch someone like Klimova-Ponomarenko or Usova-Zhulin's programs from the 1990s. I feel - this is ice dance! I still see ice dance more as an art than a sport. That's different from the other three FS disciplines.
  8. Katarzyna

    Katarzyna Well-Known Member

    Same thought here! Ice dance in the 90ies = art combined with pure beauty of skating! :swoon:
  9. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

    In theory, the rules pay lip service to all of these qualities, but I don't necessarily see it playing out that way (I don't want to turn this into a rehash of recent competitions so I won't say more). There is a difference between things being mentioned as criteria for PCS and things being criteria for levels. The latter are strictly codified. These items you mentioned:
    are part of the criteria that make up the step sequences. Dancers attempt these things because you have to to get a high level. It's rare to see steps outside of the required elements, though.

    These items are more difficult to codify. They're supposed to be part of PCS, in theory, but the judges tend to use PCS as a general rank of skaters, so these fall by the wayside.
  10. lulu

    lulu New Member

    Slighly off topic, but one thing (out of many) that I really appreciate about G&P was how diverse their style was: avant-garde and modern 1992 FD, 1993 blues, 1994 rock and roll, 1995 "Steppin Out" 1996 Latin Theme, 1997 The Feeling Begins and 1998 Memorial-which, IMO had echoes of T&D's Bolero.
  11. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the link! I chuckle at the apparent unease in Tracy Wilson's voice. It must have been a little awkward for a first-time commentator to disagree with the outspoken and famous Toller Cranston.

    I am not interested in discussing who wuzrobbed or who was rightfully awarded, etc. In the constantly shifting wind of the mysterious ice dance judging, ice dancers might face more pressure from the ISU ice dance technical committee to cater to the currently favored genre than single skaters (see the recent direction for "uplifting" themes). The style choices from one year to another, from one generation to another, often do not completely reflect the skaters' own sensibilities.

    I am interested in the philosophical debate about whether ice dancing is a sport and whether it is possible to have a set of stable rules to judge ice dancers fairly. Is it possible to compare and fairly judge two different ballets, one put on by Bolshoi and the other by Mariinsky? Or one by ABT and the other by Jiri Kylian? No. They cannot be fairly compared. Is ice dance a performance art or is it a sport? Perhaps there never is and never will be a clear-cut answer, but I find it inherently fascinating.

    Overall I don't think ice dancing is worse now than it was before, in terms of skaters, choreography, technical difficulty, and judging. It is probably also not true to claim that ice dancing was less technically demanding in 1990 than in 2013. Although the top free dances in 1990 appear to be technically less demanding than today's top free dances (in my opinion), with the exception of Klimova & Ponomarenko's, the CDs and OSPs more than made up for the technical demands then compared with now (also my opinion).
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  12. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    1990 was a great Worlds for ice dance. I loved all of the top 3 programs. Klimova & Ponomarenko would have more artistically captivating and original programs than this one but it was still beautiful, wonderful technically, and wonderful flow, line, unision, softness. Usova & Zhulin really for the first time showed of what would be their capativating trademark style of dancing from 1990-1993, so sensual, sophisticated, and with such understated elegance. The Duchensays hit their all time peak here, it was by far their best and greatest work ever, still not technically as strong as the Russians but truly an impactful program. They went on a gradual decline artistically with their programs the next couple years, and mostly rode off their fame and name recognition from 88-90 to inflated scores and results in 91 and 92.