ISU Skating Awards To Debut At 2020 Worlds

Tinami Amori

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19,173
That’s why it’s important to let people in the community have that discussion and decide that for themselves.

Outsiders chiming in seem to do so in order to just express frustration with other people’s voices and wanting to butt in and condescendingly explain in way to further talk down and lecture people who are well aware of how their position is seen through that lecturer’s eyes.
Amen! :D
 

Aerobicidal

Inspired by Selections
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10,697
I just had to click the comments. Holy shit. :scream: Definitely the most degenerate comments section I've ever seen, and that's saying something.
Wow, you were definitely not wrong about this!

Those comments make the From Russia with Love thread seem like Sesame Street on ecstasy.
 

aftershocks

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17,271
If people want to complain about non-Schindler's List cultural appropriation in skating this year, there's likely no better place to start than with the song and dance "Vogue." As many of us know, Madonna appropriated vogueing from black drag queens in New York City, making millions of dollars. Paris Is Burning tells the rest better than I could do, although I should add that that documentary was also considered appropriation by many in the community.

The only other thing I have to say--more on topic as well--is that I am still extremely amused that Samarin is nominated for Most Entertaining Program. But maybe that proves my evil lefty U.S. biases.
There's also a tv series called, Pose: https://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/pose
And there's a documentary, Strike a Pose, which caught up with the male background dancers who backed Madonna on her Blond Ambition tour, and were also seen in the 1991 Truth or Dare documentary about the tour.

BTW, figure skating is chock full of cultural appropriation. It's just that by now all the Latin-themed music and programs, as well as the jazz, blues, rock 'n roll, and country music genres are largely seen as part of the blended melting pot culture of America. To be honest, popular American culture, which is appropriated worldwide, is heavily based on so-called 'black' cultural themes, trends, music, style, etc.

Discussions about 'cultural appropriation' are all the rage these days all over social media. In the Loop figure skating podcast recently had an episode on the topic. I can't find it to link at the moment. I think sensitivity and a genuine approach to whatever is being expressed on the ice in figure skating is key. Some approaches are OTT and ill-advised, such as this 2009-2010 Aboriginal dance by Dominina/Shabalin:

I did not see Ice Age, so I'm not familiar with the controversial number by Navka & Burkovsky, but they received a lot of flack for their Holocaust-themed number:

OTOH, I don't see a problem with the many Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon and Les Miserables routines, nor with Satoko's program this season, nor with Michael Jackson and James Brown related programs, nor with Riverdance renditions. Nor is there a problem with most I Put A Spell On You programs (in fact, in this vein, I think there's room for some cool programs to the soulful stylings of Nina Simone, Nat King Cole, and Aretha). Aside from being overused, I don't see many problems with the majority of Schindler's List programs, despite the current controversy over Romsky's and especially Shulepov's costumes. The biggest problem perhaps was nominating Shulepov's costume for a grandstanding event award. :drama: When will TPTB in figure skating promote the sport in a way that receives widespread positive and popular coverage? :(

ETA: After I posted my above thoughts, I see that @alchemy void already beat me to the punch regarding the real problem!

The problem here isn't necessarily Shulepov's costume, it's that the ISU nominated it for costume of the year.
Exactly!


I am hopeful to see some skaters in pairs, singles and ice dance pull out stops to be creative with their program selections for the upcoming Beijing Olympics! I will discuss what I'm thinking about in this regard later, in a more appropriate thread...
 
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Frau Muller

Everything is beautiful at the ballet!
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11,831
Yes. I think that's partly it. It's a very different setting to something like a ballet, where the lights go down, the scene is set and there is more time to add focus onto the message.

Whereas in skating, it's all like 'can he do the quad toe?? noo... he fell!!!' then a whole lot of fist pumping and cheering at the end if it went well and then 'Scores Please'. It just breaks the mood.

And as I said before, you can probably count on one hand the number of skaters who can send a deep artistic message at the same time as skating an elite level program.

But Schindler's List has reached the point where it's like a milestone of artistry - where skaters want to do it to prove a point.

My personal issue is that I watched the film for the first time when I was 16 and it was so upsetting that I honestly think about really regularly even still. And so I don't love it as an option in figure skating. It's just such heavy content.



The ballet Ghost Dances is one of my most favourite ballets ever. (Oh I wish I could find a DVD of it). Duchesnay's program borrowed very heavily from the original choreography. But I think much of the aspects which made Ghost Dances quite confronting wasn't in that program -- namely the Skeleton like White Ghosts appearing at intervals representing death. But I get what you are saying.

But I think that such a heavy program probably suited 90s ice dance better. There was more opportunity for an immersive program without a huge number of athletic elements to distract. The jump jump jump of modern singles isn't as well suited.
re. A film of the ballet Ghost Dances-
It’s hard to find but it exists:
 

MacMadame

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OTOH, I don't see a problem with the many Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon and Les Miserables routines, nor with Satoko's program this season, nor with Michael Jackson and James Brown related programs, nor with Riverdance renditions.
None of them? Because there have certainly been some Madame Butterfly programs that bothered me. As well as some particularly horrible Riverdance programs that were almost parodies of Irish step dancing.

All of these possible programs are ripe for opportunities to be offensive IMO.
 

aftershocks

Well-Known Member
Messages
17,271
None of them? Because there have certainly been some Madame Butterfly programs that bothered me. As well as some particularly horrible Riverdance programs that were almost parodies of Irish step dancing.

All of these possible programs are ripe for opportunities to be offensive IMO.
It's one thing to have a problem with how programs are put together, and how costumes are created. I'm specifically talking about not having a problem with the motivation to tackle such programs. Again, if done with care, sensitivity and genuine enthusiasm, there's nothing wrong with so-called 'cultural appropriation.' When such programs are done in a careless, thoughtless way that's rife with questionable assumptions, that's where the problems arise. But that goes for any type of figure skating program, performance, and costume.
 

MacMadame

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It's one thing to have a problem with how programs are put together, and how costumes are created.
I never said that was my problem. In particular I said the Riverdance programs I had an issue with came off as a parody of Irish culture. As someone of Irish descent, I was offended, actually.
 

Japanfan

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23,257
Again, if done with care, sensitivity and genuine enthusiasm, there's nothing wrong with so-called 'cultural appropriation.' When such programs are done in a careless, thoughtless way that's rife with questionable assumptions, that's where the problems arise. But that goes for any type of figure skating program, performance, and costume.
ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_appropriation

Cultural appropriation, at times also phrased cultural misappropriation,[2][3][4] is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.[5][2][3]

According to critics of the practice, cultural appropriation differs from acculturation, assimilation, or equal cultural exchange in that this appropriation is a form of colonialism: cultural elements are copied from a minority culture by members of a dominant culture, and these elements are used outside of their original cultural context—sometimes even against the expressly stated wishes of members of the originating culture.[3][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Cultural appropriation is considered harmful by various groups and individuals,[12][13] including Indigenous people working for cultural preservation,[14][15] those who advocate for collective intellectual property rights of the originating, minority cultures,[16][17][18][19] and those who have lived or are living under colonial rule.[2][20][21][19] Often unavoidable when multiple cultures come together, cultural appropriation can include exploitation of another culture's religious and cultural traditions, fashion, symbols, language, and music.[22][23][24]
 

aftershocks

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17,271
I never said that was my problem. In particular I said the Riverdance programs I had an issue with came off as a parody of Irish culture. As someone of Irish descent, I was offended, actually.
Seriously? Which Riverdance programs are you so offended by to the point of making your blood boil?

Yep, and thanks for sharing the definition. This is obviously an emotional topic, that is difficult to discuss in generalized terms. So if there is something specific regarding a particular program that you want to highlight in connection with this definition, the floor is open. :)

Cultural appropriation happens all the time. It has just recently become a newly labeled hot topic for any number of reasons, some substantive, worthwhile and meaningful, while in some cases, it's just about banging a drum and blowing hot air. :violin:
 
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overedge

G.O.A.T.
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27,899
"Appropriation" = taking something from someone against their wishes or without their consent.
 

MsZem

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13,161
... and besides, there is a basic fact, that it is "that group of jews" whose families suffered the most during WWII, we have the final word on what's "offensive" in this silly attempt "to protect our feelings".... :rofl:
Jewish people of a certain age from the former Soviet Union are the hardly the only ones whose families suffered during the Holocaust. I'm not going to get into a discussion of who "suffered the most", which would be in extremely poor taste.

You'd probably get quite a variety of opinions on Schindler's List programs and costumes if you talked to people outside your circle of friends.
 

Japanfan

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23,257
But I think where the norm issue comes in is that most likely we can safely presume that Shulepov and whoever was involved didn't think/weren't aware it was culturally offensive. That doesn't mean it wasn't, but I don't think it was intended to be. Some posts are trying to make a distinction between a "good" SL program/costume and a "bad" one, but just because that distinction is clear to other people, it doesn't mean it is or was clear to the people involved in Shulepov's program.
But people do have a responsibility when they are representing another culture or historical event, particularly if involved the discrimination against/oppression of others. They are responsible to ensure that their representation is accurate and not offensive to the group involved.

Lack of awareness is not any excuse, sorry. It's tantamount to either laziness or have no regard for the group represented, or both.

Cultural insensitivity needs to challenged, not justified - particularly given that we live in the age of the global village.

I would also like to see less of these programs at all, even from Jewish/Israeli skaters (I am also Jewish) but it's not easy - we only want people to do them when they're good, but the people involved in the bad ones presumably think theirs are good.
Well I would like to see less 'Carmen' and 'POTO' programs. But I don't that anyone cares.
 
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GarrAargHrumph

I can kill you with my brain
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18,998
If it's the case that part of Anton's costume is a reference to Schindler, it would be wise for his team or the ISU to come out and say so, and explain that they meant no offense. But instead, they've been silent on this, while the ISU gives a statement that sounds like they're trying to cover up for their decision to nominate the costume. This does not good public relations make.
 

GarrAargHrumph

I can kill you with my brain
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thvudragon

Usova's Apprentice
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4,835
I find it odd that so many are taking issue with using the Holocaust as a theme for figure skating programs. In the WSJ article, one critic called Wylie's depiction "self-serving."

Why don't movies about the Holocaust receive the same criticism? The studios don't make them as a public service. It's all part of a money-making machine, with greed inherently being part of the motivation behind the creation of these films.

The articles keep referencing skaters using music from Schindler's List, but why would skaters' depictions be bad when the movie is not? Why can a performance not count as a tribute, but a film does? Overall, most of the issue to me just seems to be snobbish gate-keeping. "Sorry figure skating, you're not a serious medium like film, so you can't tackle serious subjects."
 

overedge

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A movie has 90+ minutes and multiple characters and scenes. It has way more room to explore the events and their complexities. A skating program has one or two people, four and a half minutes, and a long set of rules to follow in what it can do. I don't think they're comparable at all.

And there have been Holocaust themed movies that have been criticized, and even shelved after they were made, for being in bad taste. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_the_Clown_Cried
 

thvudragon

Usova's Apprentice
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4,835
A movie has 90+ minutes and multiple characters and scenes. It has way more room to explore the events and their complexities. A skating program has one or two people, four and a half minutes, and a long set of rules to follow in what it can do. I don't think they're comparable at all.
And way more people that profit and make money. The amount of greed involved is massive. (And I'm not saying that greed is inherently a bad thing.)

Maybe it's more or less about my own values, but I find it very hypocritical to say it's okay to make a 2 hour movie that makes millions of dollars off the holocaust, but it's not okay to make a 4 minute program program that pays tribute without making nearly as much money.
 

MsZem

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And way more people that profit and make money. The amount of greed involved is massive. (And I'm not saying that greed is inherently a bad thing.)

Maybe it's more or less about my own values, but I find it very hypocritical to say it's okay to make a 2 hour movie that makes millions of dollars off the holocaust, but it's not okay to make a 4 minute program program that pays tribute without making nearly as much money.
I don't think the motive in making a movie that deals with some aspect of the Holocaust is greed. I'm sure it wasn't for Spielberg in making Schindler's List, and he waited years before he felt he could do it justice.

People who work on a production do expect to be paid. Spielberg specifically has also funded this with proceeds from Schindler's List:

I agree with @overedge that some things are too complex to fit into a 4 minute program, and unlike Spielberg, many skaters do not recognize that they lack the maturity to engage with certain concepts. They may mean well, but the end result tends to trivialize the Holocaust, or worse yet, sensationalize it.

Personally, the only Schindler's List programs that I can appreciate (with the caveat that I haven't seen every program to this score) are the Zaretskis' and Jonathan Cassar's.
 

vesperholly

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12,775
I agree with @overedge that some things are too complex to fit into a 4 minute program, and unlike Spielberg, many skaters do not recognize that they lack the maturity to engage with certain concepts. They may mean well, but the end result tends to trivialize the Holocaust, or worse yet, sensationalize it.
Agreed. Abstract artistic expression of the emotion of the music, good. Striped prison uniforms with gold stars, bad. Bad. So bad.
 

VGThuy

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32,151
Like I said, I think skaters who choose to portray it for the purposes of expressing something they truly feel and will get properly compensated is fine to me. Most of the time, in a competition setting, these skaters are just doing what they are told by their coach and choreographer who strategized making this program and theme to politick their skater as a serious, credible artist so they can get higher PCS. I’m not saying all competitive skating program tackling serious themes will be tacky. Some will be amazing, but like all things, I think it comes down to how much the performer understands and sells whatever theme it is they are portraying.

Either way, like all mediums, when pieces push people’s buttons or sensibilities too far, it’s up to the artist to defend it. When a skater really doesn’t understand what he is skating to or why he is wearing a costume like that with bloody gashes and all, then it’s harder to give the “artist” credit for creating something bold. At least Navka defended herself. Anyway, a lot of pieces in every medium gets criticized.
 
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goldberry99

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Personally, the only Schindler's List programs that I can appreciate (with the caveat that I haven't seen every program to this score) are the Zaretskis' and Jonathan Cassar's.
I always like Katarina Witt’s version, not only was it beautiful but she was very up front about making a statement of a German skater using this music, that her generation was younger and different and should never forget what happened.

I also liked Paul Wylie’s program, he was such an emotional skater and his emotion in the program felt completely earned and genuine
 

aftershocks

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17,271
DID YOU HEAR NATHAN CHEN DOES BALLET
Nathan does Yale, and he generally takes care of business on the ice in figure skating competitions. :COP: He studied ballet as a youngster and he appeared onstage in ballet performances as a youngster. He was also offered a scholarship for a career trajectory in ballet, but he chose to pursue figure skating over exploring life as a ballet dancer.
 

vesperholly

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Nathan does Yale, and he generally takes care of business on the ice in figure skating competitions. :COP: He studied ballet as a youngster and he appeared onstage in ballet performances as a youngster. He was also offered a scholarship for a career trajectory in ballet, but he chose to pursue figure skating over exploring life as a ballet dancer.
Yes. My point was, there were a bunch of articles that came out, when he was first on the senior scene and not getting great PCS scores, that focused on his ballet training. Skating propaganda.
 

aftershocks

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17,271
Yes. My point was, there were a bunch of articles that came out, when he was first on the senior scene and not getting great PCS scores, that focused on his ballet training. Skating propaganda.
In this particular instance, it's not propaganda IMO, just truth-telling. Granted that hype is these days to figure skating like a Zamboni is to scratched ice surfaces.

In regard to Nathan Chen, he don't need the hype, which was overdone in the build-up to the last Olympics. He just needs to continue walking softly, flying high, landing precisely, amazing audiences with his unique creativity,* and in the process carrying a big stick. :D

*His artistic creativity is more edgy modern dance than it is ballet; but then again the foundation for all modern dancers IS ballet; Nathan is also very musically expressive.
 
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Kateri

void beast
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3,938
Part of me thinks I'm insane for contributing to this discourse, but I keep seeing people getting tangled up about this, so maybe it'll help?

There are a couple of main approaches when something is being accused of cultural appropriation, and questions to consider when deciding if you agree:

1. Follow the money.

Who is making money from this, if anyone? Is an outsider making money from (or taking artistic credit for) something they have no right to, at the expense of the people who created it? e.g. Urban Outfitters mass-producing blankets with traditional Native American designs.

2. Who is being harmed, and how?

Is the depiction accurate and respectful, or does it reproduce stereotypes that cause real damage to people? Is the thing being appropriated something common and generic, or is it something sacred, private or sensitive? Is it a cultural thing that is shared freely, or something stolen without consent? Who gains or loses cultural influence, here? Is the image and identity of a minority group being taken over by outsiders, when that group's own voice is ignored and disempowered? e.g. Domnina and Shabalin and That Dance.

Generally, figure skating stuff will come under 2.) though I have seen people argue that prize money means 1.) can't be ruled out completely, for high-level skaters. Not sure I'm convinced, though.

There's also a category of things that look like cultural appropriation complaints, that are really more complaints about the hypocrisy of society - the situation where, eg, white people get praised for doing something that people of colour get judged negatively for. This is where there can be a difference of reaction between, eg, native Chinese people and Chinese-Americans, because the societal context is different. Perhaps a white girl wearing a cheongsam to the prom is seen as cool, interesting and international, but a Chinese-American girl wearing a cheongsam is seen as different, not fitting in, un-American, fresh-off-the-boat. And if the Chinese-American girl feels understandably bitter about this, she's not necessarily saying that the American girl shouldn't be allowed to wear a cheongsam, she's saying that society shouldn't treat her differently, if she does.

This is a really good site, with more indepth stuff. It's an interesting topic, with a lot of nuance and layers. People are always going to disagree about specific things, but the answer isn't to write all complaints off as "political correctness", OR to suggest that any cross-cultural engagement is appropriation - I've even seen someone suggest that learning another language is appropriation! :eek: Therefore, I find it helpful to focus on the above approaches.
 

MsZem

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13,161
Part of me thinks I'm insane for contributing to this discourse, but I keep seeing people getting tangled up about this, so maybe it'll help?

There are a couple of main approaches when something is being accused of cultural appropriation, and questions to consider when deciding if you agree:
I appreciate the good-faith effort to engage with this, @Kateri .

To me, Schindler's List programs aren't a matter of cultural appropriation. If someone wants to do Hava Nagila in Hassidic garb, that's something we can discuss as potential cultural appropriation. Or a Yemenite Jewish program to Ofra Haza's music. Which I for one would totally watch, BTW.

With Schindler's List, you have skaters who are using genocide as a backdrop for a skating program. I don't think they're trying to profit off of it, and I'm sure they find the music and movie meaningful. It can even work - when the programs focus on interpreting and expressing the music. It doesn't work when the skaters go literal and dress in concentration camp uniforms, die on the ice, etc. That's cheapening a tragedy of unimaginable scale, and it's in very poor taste.
 

Messalina

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1,962
The WSJ article contains the only full explanation of the costume I've actually heard:

Shulepov was representing the two parts of the life of Oskar Schindler, “one part … as a prosperous German businessman and the other part represents a prisoner with a Star of David and the number 1200, the approximate number of people Mr. Schindler saved.”

“The ISU understands that the use of the Star of David can be interpreted as offensive. However, we would like to point out that in his Free Skating Program Mr. Shulepov skates to the music of the renowned and award-winning movie,” the federation added.


(All the quoted text is from an ISU statement.)

Sort of funny how the ISU works to defend the costume right after completely disavowing it.
 

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