Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Off topic but

WTF is that?

Davis & White previewed their fd by telling us they had looked for chemistry for years and finally found it. White wants to show "chemistry you can cut with a knife". Marina reminds us that love makes the world go round.

We know he's not saying he's getting with Meryl - he's talking about adding chemistry to their programs. Implication: in every other way DW and VM are equal, but VM's chemistry kicks them to the top.

Yes, Marina has to proceed as if DW are as natively talented as VM, and simply need ingredient x. I get that. Her policy has been to give her teams all the chances, all the tools, and then it's up to them. It's just odd that in this program the "chemistry", unlike the refinement in the tango, is being attempted outside the actual program. If they'd hunted for something every bit as useful as chemistry - natural musicality - they'd have had to show that inside the skating.

They're over the top and vague while describing the chemistry they've found, but not explaining how this improves their skating.

Chemistry's not an add on. It's wonderful to see, but it doesn't add to the pcs or TES, at least none of Meryl, Charlie or Marina have mentioned how it's going to add points in either category. Based on Skate America, they believe chemistry is a pre-and post-performance enhancement recognized by gazing heatedly at your partner before and after a program, growing your hair romance-novel long and flinging it about, and wearing a face of angst.

The pre-Olympic season is no time to take skating tips from Annie Barabe'.

I almost feel insulted as a VM fan that chemistry in ice dance is being redefined as kitsch, as easily acquired as sewing extra crystals on your skating costume.

And that thing up there. Hey, Tessa and Scott - that's what it's amounted to all these years. Anyone can do it!

Chemistry matters to Tessa and Scott because they're so connected and in tune, it allows them to skate at speed with their bodies extraordinarily close together, in scarily interdependant positions (one slip immediately affects the other), with matching body lines. Add in all of the other things two hugely talented athletes are able to do if they're that in tune with each other - make micro adjustments by sensing what's going on with the other, agreeing to something by looking at each other. Scott and Tessa are able to do insanely intricate, difficult skating with refinement and speed, moving as one, because of chemistry. The expression on their faces and the emotional component is an add on.

Stipulating that DW skate at a very high level, and are wonderful figure skaters and athletes, I agree with Kurt Browning that they're skating the same as always. How do the post-skate histrionics enhance the programs?

They're fast, rushed, a little uncontrolled, pushing it, unison of body line not great and showing sort of wild lifts. They were miles apart in their twizzles (chemistry should allow them to be super close) and Charlie fumbled the first set of twizzles (they got +1s for that element, too. I wonder what Tessa and Scott got at Skate Canada when she stumbled on the first set while twizzling super close to and in sync with Scott?).

Minus the twizzle mishap, that's how they always skate. This program isn't a departure. Hunchback of Notre Dame, Phantom and Samson - romantic theatrical melodrama. How is this a vehicle to show chemistry? It's the sort of vehicle that makes chemistry unnecessary.

If chemistry doesn't allow you to have more interdependent movements in your skating, unison, intricacy, etc., then it's just theatrics. The unison and refinement, the intricacy - these were attributes DW attempted to improve upon with their tango program. That program was a departure - did force them to stretch their comfort zone - with results that imperfectly carry over to subsequent programs, but it appears to me the principal carry-over has been a slight loss of speed. For them, it's a Catch-22. Maintain speed, get sloppy, lose control (relative to VM) and lose some clarity of movement.

Sacrifice a bit of speed because of the more intricate choreography they're attempting (or did in the tango) - they're still rushing through everything, reluctant to hold, and lack unison in lines. Slowing down makes that more visible.

After all the talk of having found the chemistry, it seemed a bit beside the point to have it reflected in nonsense after the program has been skated, and some fevered facial expressions. Where is it in the actual skating? Wouldn't that be the point of chemistry - a greater connection that allows stronger unison in every aspect of what you do on the ice?

For Tessa and Scott, the chemistry does impact their skating, as does their mutual musicality.

I am a bit nervous now how "Carmen" will be spun. Will Marina, Tessa and Scott announce that everyone thinks they can only skate "in love" but the love/hate dynamic in Carmen will prove to the world that they can hate each other too? Will they glare at each other when they take center ice, will Scott scowl at her Carmen as he kills her (I'm misrepresenting Carmen a bit but there's only so much nuance possible in a skating performance). "For years we've tried to hate each other, and we think we've finally found a way." Then they'll be all over each other as usual, a single skating unit, but afterwards pretend they hated each other the entire performance.They'll stalk off to the Kiss'n Cry; Tessa will flirt with Johnny Johns while Scott fumes. That's diversity.

It's not, and what D/W are doing isn't chemistry. You don't "do" chemistry.

For me, the biggest departure will be if Scott's costume is something other than a vest, but I'm not holding my breath.


  1. "If chemistry doesn't allow you to have more interdependent movements in your skating, unison, intricacy, etc., then it's just theatrics."


    I love Meryl and Charlie and I think both their SD and FD are good vehicles for them this year, but these theatrics happening after the music has stopped made me cringe. So cheesy and bogus. The criticisms about their lack of connection are really about how they skate, it's not about gazing into each other's eyes. Sheesh.

    I certainly hope VM won't be about portraying "hate." Just like all this fake romance from DW is laughably not believable, so would VM be if they start adding ridiculous theatrics like this, trying to be some kind of fake emotion.

    1. I just wonder why D/W are avoiding the reality of chemistry and pretending it's about theatrics. Both of them are smarter than that. So's Marina. They're running some kind of politics here, and it feels more desperate than it should. It's also annoying that they're attempting to redirect the topic of chemistry from its real application in figure skating, to pretending it's something you can just approximate with stunts like Skate America. IMO that inadvertantly trivializes Virtue Moir. If D/W want us to think they have chemistry, please show it in how you move together on the ice, in your musicality, in how your performance is shaped by the minute ways you play off each other and work with each other - not in how strenously you emote on the ice.

      I don't think with both teams skating at their best that D/W can beat V/M, because I think V/M is about as much better, or better still, than the point differential at these last worlds and at the Olympics.

      However, it's close enough so that if VM stumble, D/W can take it. We've seen it, so it's not impossible. IMO D/W ought to focus on control, on showing the judges they can skate with control and fine unison. The fact that they're end running around that and pretending it's chemistry they're missing makes me think they've tried and can't with a level of control and unison that is able to approach and compete with VM. They're setting up a false comparison on this other, cheesy level instead. It's a bogus "Us too" and since the skating is exactly the same, it's just weird.

      Mostly, as a fan of VM's skating, I'm put out that D/W are going on as if this overcooked nonsense is chemistry. It certainly isn't. That's not what people mean by Scott and Tessa's figure skating chemistry. Yes, there's the romantic connection that pulls the audience in, but the part that puts points in the protocols is the sort of skating that chemistry has created, the extraordinary abilities it's produced.

  2. Perhaps Davis and White took one look at Scott getting his hand all up in Tessa's business during their free dance and decided that some defensive action was in order. Too bad it didn't work. I'm more turned off than ever by them.

    1. I think they tipped their hand too obviously (D/W). They may as well have announced they know they're not as good as Virtue Moir, and despite the tango and other experiments in evolving their skating, if VM are on their game, D/W on theirs has no chance. So pretend the issue is something else.

      I lifted an eyebrow at Tanith's comments, or lack of comments. Usually she touts what DW are doing. Kurt Browning was also skeptical, but he praised what D/W did well. Tanith was pretty quiet until the end, when she said something along the lines of - well, yeah, this was not the greatest outing but it's absolutely necessary if they want to be the complete package in Sochi. They could be the same old Meryl Charlie with the tricks and the speed and call it a day, but.

      What does that say? That's her saying they're not as good as Virtue Moir.

      The problem is, IMO, is that the program IS the same old Meryl and Charlie and the theatre before and after doesn't fix it. Levels in footwork, smoothing out entrances and exits to the lifts will come, but in the end how is the way they're skating this program, as an ice dance team, different from how they skated Die Fleudermaus or anything else?

  3. Have you seen this Q/A with D/W? http://www.teamusa.org/News/2012/October/23/You-Asked-Meryl-And-Charlie-Answered.aspx#.UIcJPGzWbkY.twitter

    1. Yeah they're really pushing it. They use some good tricks, such as answering as if it's established that they are such good actors on the ice people think they're together. That's not actually the case but they're selling as hard as they can, even emphasizing how much time they spend together off ice. In the past, Meryl has said that when she has free time she doesn't necessarily think, boy, it would be great to spend more time with Charlie!

      For me, it was interesting that their answers to what makes each a great partner was all off ice - dedication, commitment, work ethic.

      All this talk of connection and chemistry is going to be for nothing until it can translate to how they relate to each other on the ice, from the blades up, not the neck up, in all of their movements.

  4. Really, it's hilarious that Meryl & Charlie are working hard to show how they're such close friends off ice. So much so, people think they're a couple!! So all this supposed on ice chemistry ("that you can cut with a knife". LOL) is really really real.

    Say what? Who has ever thought they were together or clamored for them to be together? No one! All of it is pure fabrication.

    And then there's Scott & Tessa. They tried so hard to portray they never spend any more time together than absolutely necessary. No sir! We avoid off ice stuff, we're so so not connected off ice, it's just good acting. And has anyone ever believed them? No. Unless you suspend reality and talk yourself into accepting something your own common sense says is not true.

    So no, I'm not buying Meryl & Charlie's new spin. Too late for any of it to be believable.

    1. I've only seen a glimpse of VM's new program, like the rest of us, I guess, but they are using contemporary movement in collaboration with Marina and with Jennifer Swan, who also collaborated with Pink Floyd. In the past, they've been extremely versatile with rhythm, tempo, etc., and styles of movement, but it's mostly been within traditional dance forms. What we think of as contemporary is really as old as the hills (Martha Graham, after all, died of old age a long time ago), but for the purposes of dance discussion 'modern', however aged, and 'contemporary" however time worn, is still not considered traditional. This is the second time Scott and Tessa have done this dance style since becoming seniors, and this time it's wed to a traditional storyline with familiar music with tons of sex and love in it, so it's got every base covered - their wheelhouse (chemistry, chemistry, both physical and emotional), music people love, but a dance vocabulary they haven't used very much before.

      Davis White did not come up with anything new. It's what we've seen before. A cool entrance into a dance spin we've seen many times. Same rotational lift they've been doing forever. Same basic dance style they've done forever (theatrical), same basic story they've done twice before - a spin on Beauty and the Beast.

      I think they've realized that they've grown as much as they can grow as a team, and that's why now we've got "Oh no, Meryl and Charlie!" They've always seemed so comfortable and confident with who they are, their dynamic, and how they skate. This hard sell on the chemistry feels false and desperate. After the tango program, I kept looking for the results in their subsequent programs and didn't see it. I believe they even modified the tango program along the way to eliminate some of the intricacies. They've accomplished so much for not being musical, for not being organic performers, and for not being able to really react to each other (in terms of performance on a number of levels) on the ice. Everything is driven. They don't have to concede anything, but I don't think this is necessary. It might be frustrating, and they might be resistent to the idea that they can win gold in Sochi only if for whatever reason VM aren't at their best, but there are plenty of Olympic gold medalists who won because a favorite stumbled or some other reason - injury, or other - prevented them from being at their best. They don't have to acknowledge it in public, but compared to this uncomfortable direction they've taken with their spin, I prefer that more reality-based mindset. Charlie used to say that it's not D/W on the ice at the same time as their competitors, duking it out. The game is to do you best and leave it to the judges. I wish they'd do that now. Everyone understands that chemistry in figure skating is how two people skate together, not how they 'act' together. Including D/W. This is as bad and as uncomfortable as VM's "George Clooney' script.

  5. Well well well. After seeing Tessa and Scott's FD practice and reading the comments about it...no wonder Meryl and Charlie are desperate to prove they, too, have connection. No way they will be able to compete with VM in this regard. Of all years, not this one.

    1. Their Carmen is a wonderful program from what I've seen - they're sensational in it together and separately, and Tessa's versatility in entrances and exits, her speed and body control in space, is out of this world. Her ability to articulate her movements and her character's intention at high speed, displaying a tour de force athleticism and phrasing, is breathtaking.

      I just roll my eyes at anyone who thought Tessa couldn't be Carmen. Maybe they should try watching her again when she was fourteen or fifteen. She can do anything. Fair skin and blue eyes doesn't make you white bread.

      A couple of thoughts: one is, the fandom is excited by this program, but if it were widely acknowledged Tessa and Scott were a married couple, the excitement wouldn't have some of the inappropriate titillating aspect among fans who wonder what's up. Their status would be considered the advantage it is that they're in a position to do this program naturally (the passion and unhibited physicality). People wouldn't be OMG - he touched her there! She touched HIM there! They're married - it's a leg up married dance teams have. These two have actually provoked fan swooning over this stuff (versus focus on the programs) because of their lying.

      If they weren't lying, other fans wouldn't mortify themselves in public by musing how remarkable and frustrating it is that Scott and Tessa can develop this program while being so used to each other they remain blind to their own chemistry and rightness for each other that everyone can see. That's insulting to Virtue Moir. On Virtue Moir's part, it's sad they've set fans up to make fools of themselves.

      I hope to Christ that this season there are no questions about - was it hard for a platonic couple such as yourselves to find the eroticism for this program considering you have never been romantically involved? "Oh, it really was fun exploring these CHARACTERS" and a real departure for us - yes it was a challenge." Sure it was, but the passion, physicality part was not, and the strong, tough, freedom loving woman and the man who burns for her while they share a huge sexual attraction isn't all that far out of their wheelhouse, even though Carmen, of course, ruins one of the characters instead of bringing them happily together.

    2. I will be irritated if, as last year, Tessa and Scott are nitpicked left and right during the Grand Prix while Meryl and Charlie get massive scores. They suffered in TES at Skate America but under no scoring system should they get 10s in transitions. These two programs, and these teams, are no longer comparable. VM have put a ton of distance between themselves and D/W. D/W's program isn't Marina's fault. D/W have done everything they can to stretch themselves and evolve, but as skaters and as a team they're not limitless, unlike VM. Individual skating skills - what the edge is doing, might be competitive, although VM have greater blade drive and I believe at this point, greater power and speed. D/W suffer by not being musical, not being able to play off each other while skating (unable to phrase their music or phrase how they interact - they're dependant upon Marina building the phrasing into the choreography), and just not having a physical affinity on the ice as skaters (as athletes, they can do the tricks just fine).

      I get that they'd react to what Tessa and Scott are doing with loud claims about their own chemistry, but I think it backfires immediately in comparison to the second Tessa/Scott step on the ice. They can't compete there. Marina has, as she has with VM, put together a strong program that is a big point getter under Cop and D/W can deliver it. I think they'd be better off not spending energy on what they can't control (they don't have chemistry) and focus on getting that program as powerful and fail safe as they can get it, clean clean clean all the way through this season. Ice is slippery, and anything can happen because of that. The chemistry argument is absolutely futile, and a little pathetic.

      Finally, I think it's sad that in their Skatebuzz interview, their child is ignored and Tessa again portrays herself as a Windsor student whenever she's not on the ice and Scott has a remote in his hand watching sports. Their child is completely deleted from this period of their lives.

  6. I went back to D/W's FD today, expecting the difference to Carmen to be jarring, and possibly pathetic. But instead, for some reason I enjoyed D/W more than I have in a long while. I think V/M are so far out of their league now, especially with this program, that a comparison was impossible, so I think my brain just switched into the gear of watching all the other non V/M ice dance teams I love. They're still the same Meryl and Charlie I love from the Olympics. A comparison to V/M, as has been forced for the last two seasons, draws huge attention to their flaws, but if you just enjoy them for what they are, they're pretty great.

    I wonder about how D/W fans will feel about the programs (any V/M-specific hating aside). The choreography is so tired compared to Carmen, plus they are definitely not on the "all new elements" plan that TS are. Marina hasn't said anything about D/W breaking 200 points, has she? So, is Marina majorly playing favourites? My impression was that that's not the way she works. Did D/W initially try something more and couldn't make it happen? Did they truly believe that saying they had chemistry would be a valid shortcut? Anyways, people will find reasons to explain why they hate Carmen, but I can't imagine the saner fans and even D/W don't feel the extreme disadvantage they are at now. If head to head there isn't a major point difference, then maybe we need another new judging system.