Apr 26, 2011
Do me Daisuke
Daisuke Takahashi, Mambo SP, 2011 4CC
**** - Great stuff
One of the great things about Daisuke Takahashi as a skater is that he has been quite willing to try out a variety of different choreographers. I am of the opinion that elite skaters who could afford to do so should optimally vary their choreographers in order to uncover some possibly hitherto unexplored facets of their skating abilities and to inject some much-needed creativity in the often-staid batch of figure skating programs every year. Mr. Takahashi, thankfully, has skated programs choreographed by a diverse assortment of people that have included Tatiana Tarasova, Nikolai Morozov, Stephane Lambiel, Pasquale Camerlengo and Kenji Miyamoto. The results have paid off handsomely, as Mr. Takahashi has a demonstrated an impressive range of expression and skating styles, from the sensitive Amelie exhibition choreographed by Mr. Lambiel this year, to the edgier Eye by Mr. Miyamoto, as well as Mr. Camerlengo's jaunty La Strada. As such, the news that Mr. Takahashi had chosen Shae-Lynn Bourne as a choreographer this season caused great excitement (er, among myself, at least) indeed, as Shae-Lynn Bourne's choreography for skaters such as Akiko Suzuki had showed much promise.
The result of this collaboration between Mr. Takahashi and Ms. Bourne is what is arguably the best men's short program this season: Mambo. By God, from the first beat of music to the last, this program lunges right at you, grabs you by the neck and takes you in for a wild ride, a rare thing for a short program indeed. There's definitely some quality choreography here: the program is seamless and well-constructed, with good linking elements and best of all, a great step sequence with edgework and upper-body movement that looks more of an extension of the music than something designed to fulfill the ISU's bulletpoints. But as good as the choreography is, it's Mr. Takahashi's sensational performance ability that makes this program such a thrill to watch. A skater as confident, as reckless and as charismatic as Mr. Takahashi can make even the simplest bare-bones choreography look good, but it's wonderful that Ms. Bourne has constructed a deliciously vulgar, larger-than-life program that embraces everything Mr. Takahashi has in spades and makes one forget that he's skating in a competition. Simply put, Mambo is the closest competitive figure skating equivalent of a fantastically loud and boozy night of dancing without the hangover after. More of this please.