Friday, June 8, 2012

A Tribute to Geza

Present day floor routines are a snooze.  The American routines are basically vaults with shitty leaps to horrid music.  Yes, Gabby, we are looking at you.  The rest of the world isn't that much better.  Back in the day, a Hungarian-Romanian immigrant was vital to the success of Team Karolyi and ultimately, Team USA.  Hungarian-Romanian choreography match with Hungarian-Romanian taste.  Bela, Martha and Geza were a trio of brilliance or hell on Earth depending on your point of view.  What their athletes lacked in difficulty and aesthetics, they made up for with good old fashioned flash.  In the Reagan eighties and early nineties, the crowd ate that shit up and the routines became as iconic as the gymnasts themselves.

At the time, most gymnastics enthusiasts found the choreography satanic, cheestastic and largely insufferable.  We did not know that one day we would long for routines that had one iota of whatever the hell that brand of dance Geza brought to the world.

Nadia may have danced like a five-year-old with epilepsy, but it worked.  There is a certain charm to her spastic, cluttered choreography.  Is she falling all over the floor?  Is she dancing?  Who the fuck knows?!  I'm in.

Kim Zmeskal's Rock Around The Clock was a dumbed-down sequel to In The Mood, but she still ate it up.

The original was better.  Watch this and imagine what Geza would've done with Shawn Johnson.  It sure as hell would've been better than the piece of shit she performed  in Beijing.  Zmeskal's choreography and music matched with her flashy second pass was a Bela-Geza special that made up for her inferior routine construction to the rest of the world.  Bela knew how to teach a double back and it is about all he put in his athletes' routines at a time where actual tumbling was flourishing.

Love it or hate it, this routine was 'it' in Atlanta.  This routine made Dominique a household name and could be responsible for at least eight percent of her book sales.  It is positively infectious.  A normal fourteen-year-old girl would find pounding her fists on the floor infantile, but Moceanu looked about nine and pulled off the tantrum with flair.

Borden wasn't good enough to train with Bela, but her Geza routine made up for her collegiate ability.

Kerri Strug was a rigid gymnast with a neurotic personality.  Geza made the most of it matched with tumbling that benefited from Be;a's boot camp.

Kristie Phillips never could tumble or land anything with her chest above her knees, but the crowd loved her and the judges typically had no choice but to agree.

Mary Lou sells this god awful routine like it is positively brilliant. Somehow, I think it matches her level of taste.

Even Dawes got into it when they finally let her ditch Malaguena.  Her tumbling passes were placed well in the music.  The booming double layout showed off her amazing skill more than her sloppy, bowlegged back-to-back passes.

Geza actually did nice work for girls he believed had actual dance ability.

Sadly, Hillary Grivich wasn't one of them.  Poor Pluto.

I've always wanted to roll on the floor and toil in the shadows with Shannon.

Chelle Stack sold that shit to Seoul and back.  Little did we ever know we'd long for these days and be subjected to the likes of Jordyn Wieber.  Be careful what you bitch about.


  1. Even though I am mostly a figure skating fan, the whole decline of women 'selling' floor routines is an interesting issue to me.

    When I was younger, I used to wonder why men gymnasts didn't use music for their floor routines, because the women were so much more memorable to me.

    In the present day, it seems to me like the reverse of what I used to hope for has happened. I think MAYBE because a lot of coaches in gymnastics are men, the aesthetics of men's FX has seeped into the women's. I can only guess 'selling' a routine becomes an issue of 'dignity' and a feeling of women wanting to feel equal to men. That the 'purity' of tumbling is 'degraded' by playing to an audience?

    In the best of all possible worlds I'd like to see men start to use music (which I think would also draw in more fans) but if women are going to use crappy music as a background instead of performing to it, I'd just as well get rid of the music for them too all together.

  2. The routines have too many requirements for the gymnasts to be able to expend any energy performing choreography. It is a crying shame and is killing the sport. Floor is a joke.

    You know the sport is a joke when a top score on floor is a sub par score on vault or bars.

  3. I don't think I've ever seen so many backhanded compliments in a single post! Love this!

  4. Thank you for this post AJ! The Phoebe, Kristi, Chelle era was so amazing and floor was so much fun to watch. These girls were masters at selling the crap out of the performance and the gymnastics was merely a bonus on floor. Its so sad how its complete opposite now. PS- Gotta love how every commentator used to make mention of weight and body type. Creepy!

    1. There was an awesomely cheesy/creepy (pick your adjective!) fluff video during Barcelona--a hazy, soft focus montage of the team members in their leos with underscoring of Eric Clapton singing wistfully "Wonderful Tonight." I think they'd stopped with the height/weight thing but the paternalism and lack of boundaries lives on!

    2. That's so true about the body-type comments. All the talk about Chelle being so tiny seems positively perverted. She had a great routine though.

  5. Belas chorreography for the most part reminded me of residue on the inside of mens urinals in grand central station.

    It just kills me that Amanda Boredom is an olympian. Gross.

  6. I bet Geza is having a tantrum ala Moceanu over the floor routines today.

    Could the commentators elude anymore to the fact that Kristie Phillips got boobs?

    1. "She's certainly grown before our eyes!"

  7. Ghastly! Ghastly music, ghastly choreography. So much about these routines screams complete lack of taste. There is a moment in Kristie Phillips routine that is beyond vulgar - I went wide-eyed in horror. She looked like a spider wiggling upside down showing off her white leotard-ed special place. Is that one of the moments that qualified your use of the word "satanic"?

    And what is with all the fist pounding on the mat? I thought it was silly in Atlanta - I had no idea it was a repeat move! I saw it at least 3 times in the clips here.

    My favorite part in all of this is Mary Lou running across the mat. TOO funny!

  8. Margaret Thatcher wishes she could do a Tsukahara full like Mary Lou.

    Those are all my favorite American routines, and Margaret is a great patriot, so they are her favorite routines. I am also an advocate of Georgia (well Atlanta), so when I work out to Dominique's 96 music cuts it has special meaning.

    Zmeskal and I have shared a life of ups and downs together, and I think my favorite Geza routine, after Devil Went Down to Georgia, may be Rock Around the Clock. It is garish and not very pretty, but what can you say: it is pure enjoyment.

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  10. I liked when Aunt Joyce remarked yesterday that Mary Lou's rolling on the ground was slutty. All of Geza's choreography captured the joy of life and therefore might be sexual insofar as sex is one of life's most joyful endeavors.

    No matter what anti-Karolyi partisans say, Geza rarely made a misstep. Look at how he provided even a minion like Trudy "Emilia" Eberle with a smile inducing program. Can you find one routine among all the pedestrian monstrosities of 2012 as entertaining and seamless as this?!

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  13. I am laughing like a hyena about Dawes' "sloppy bow-legged back-to-back passes." Are you and I genetically related like Moceanu and her legless sister? I think you are spot on that Geza made Dawes look like a real classical gymnast. With this routine, she shows off her amazing skills in a way that I think was destined to please a wide constituency.

  14. I think of the shit that passes for floor routines today and can't believe that there was ever a time in my life when I thought Kim Zmeskal couldn't dance. Compared to someone like Wieber, she's practically ABT material.