Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Skate America: All About The Packaging
Meryl Davis and Charlie White have a problem and it is known as their free dance. For years, Marlie have performed virtuous programs that have been thematic and often shown off Charlie's performance ability. While the lady is typically the flower and the man the stem in most teams, Charlie is often more of the flower. Hie throws his body up, down and around, butterflying over Meryl's back, swooping on the ground and is quite the hulk when it comes to lifts. Meryl's unique look was drawn upon for their successful Bollywood program, which really highlighted both of their strengths and masked their weaknesses. Unfortunately, the tango is one of the worst vehicles they've ever hard.
Meryl and Charlie are two cerebral individuals who lack a certain heat between them. They can give loving looks, but one never gets the sense that they are lovers on the ice (Especially not after seeing Meryl's icy ballerina body language in the Kiss and Cry after their free dance.) Dance is visual and tells a story. It is difficult for them to come across as believable lovers. While they are certainly amazing skaters and performers, the tango is quite a challenge for them.
The Tango is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire. No matter how overt or loungey a tango may be, one is always supposed to get the impression that its dancers are about to run off and fuck with raw uninhibited passion. Meryl and Charlie skate like two virginal children pretending to tango. The expression is somewhat fake. Tango is also reliant upon hold and posture. Davis and White struggle in this area and their lines are never extended. While their short dance makes them appear big and grand, with large sweeping movements, the Tango shortens them and does not have the bigger than life quality that Phantom of the Opera oozed. Igor has choreographed so many tangos over the years, that one may recall bits of other teams and programs past in Forever Tango.
After the success of last season, Marlie are busier than they've ever been. Competing has been good for them in the sense that they have been made well aware of all of their problem areas. Their programs are being nitpicked and ripped apart. There will be no surprises later on. Element wise, there are things to figure out. They lost several points in both programs due to small errors. What the team needs now is training time, with plenty of tweaking and reworking ahead. An Amelie Free Dance with an uplifting theme may not be out of the question. The Tango is less hectic and crowded, but they are capable of so much more.
Crone and Poirier continue to skate well, despite a fall during their free dance. The somewhat recycled Eleanor Rigby works for them (or as I like to call the program--- Primary Colors.) I must confess that I have a difficult time taking this team seriously after all of the lusting we've done over Paul. Friends of mine who attended and competed at Skate Canada have drawn my attention to a rather humorous little occurrence. While females tend to have one breast slightly larger than the others (men have a similar phenomenon), Vanessa is noticeably more dominant on one side. In fact, one could even blame their mistakes on being off balance.
In all seriousness, their Eleanor Rigby program is good in that the choreography, concept and costumes help them appear grander than they did last season. There is a sense of sophistication now that wasn't there before. The program will not be among my all-time favorites, but it is good (not great.)
One program that is working is the Shibutanis' free dance. While they continue to struggle with transitioning from technical skating to free skating in the short dance, Let's Face The Music and Dance is a charming vehicle that is endearing them to the audience and the judges. Their speed is infectious. Maia and Alex are known for training their asses off and it really comes through via their perfected elements. Meryl and Charlie are struggling to master difficult new spins and lifts, but Maia and Alex have the Zueva/Shpilband lifts, twizzles and spin down! Their protocol is Bam! Bam! Bam! +2, +1, +2, + 3, + 2 across the board. With continued progress, it will be difficult for Samuelson and Bates to remain ahead of them upon their return to competition. The Shibutanis have some edges to fix during their step sequences, but the majority of their attention needs to go to getting their short dance as confident as their free. It is simply magical for them. Kudos for stellar costumes.
Weaver and Poje also fall under the good, not great category. They are one of the few teams to actually excel in the short dance; however, the free dance just feels like it has been done. Their elements are okay but nothing really shines. Moulin Rouge/ Tango de Roxanne is so familiar that everything is just expected. Kaitlyn's uncanny resemblance to Nicole Kidman isn't even remarkable midway through the program. It is difficult to move ahead in the world rankings when you're a #3 North American team. Everything needs more speed and precision. They are pleasant but will not challenge Crone and Poirier at Canadian Nationals barring a major meltdown.
One welcome surprise are Lynn and Logan. With the Hubbells the only real non-Canton team at the top of US Ice Dance, it is refreshing to see a different style. With their last names, I already feel closer to them by being on a first name basis. They look ready to make everyone take notice, as it won't be long until they will be fighting for World Team spots. Audiences are loving them for good reason.
Now that Tarasova is no longer intimately involved in ice dance, movement and change appear to be constant. No one's spot is ever secure. Faiella and Scali certainly need to look over their shoulder this week: teams are a-comin.