Dec 2, 2011
This season's programs that have managed to elicit a reaction beyond 'meh' and/or 'ugh' from me, let me show you them:
Daisuke Takahashi, In the Garden of Souls SP
This particular choice will not be a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for the past month or so, but the amount of detail in this program is stunning, and the whole thing just soars in the capable hands of Mr. Takahashi. Simply put, In the Garden of Souls is a masterpiece, an instance of great music, choreography and performance all perfectly falling together in place to fortuitously fill a need I had not known existed in my heart up until now: to see a dark, serious and abstract incarnation of Daisuke Takahashi.
Jeremy Abbott, Exogenesis LP
There's something emotional about this deceptively simple program that has me vainly grasping for analogous experiences to describe how I feel about it. None such experiences come to mind at the moment, but the whole thing is suffused with a melancholy and poignant air that has me entirely mesmerized throughout the subtle but inexorable rise and fall of the program's arc. Love the moment when Mr. Abbott does that leap before pausing and resting his palm on the ice (the blood is an extra-angsty bonus).
Kiira Korpi, Over the Rainbow SP
I know, this is exactly the sort of ladies program I love to hate. Perhaps I have finally followed the judges in falling under the spell of Ms. Korpi's luminous beauty, but I have really warmed up to this short program in a way that I had failed to do all last season. I don't even mind the cheesy part at the end when Ms. Korpi traces the arc of a rainbow with her hands. That said, I haven't been really blown away by any of the ladies' SP this season (just like last season, actually...) but Ms. Korpi's Over the Rainbow comes the closest in this regard. Maybe I just appreciate the fact that this short program is a very, very good vehicle for Ms. Korpi's stately and sort of old school style of skating.
Carolina Kostner, Mozart's Concerto No. 23 LP
Yes, I've been harshing on Miss Kostner's buzz for quite awhile now due to her much-diminished technical content. Such unkind thoughts were often pervasive in my mind when I watched Miss Kostner's Concerto No. 23 at first, but after experiencing an inexplicable urge to re-watch Miss Kostner's performance at Skate America for about the sixth time, I finally realized it was time to pull my head out of my sphincter and face the facts: I was in love.
Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran, Imagine SP
As far as world-weary and cynical figure skating topics go, there's little more satisfying than ruminating on the state of pairs skating after the scourge of CoP. Indeed, catch-foot death spirals, contorted lifts and other horrors common to the discipline are but grist for the "CoP has ruined pairs" mill. There's something to be said about how the average CoP pairs program seems little more than a clothesline for big tricks that are rendered slow and labored by all those edge change and flexibility requirements. Ugh.
But there are exceptions, and the Japanese team of Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran is one of them. Their Imagine short program for this season shows off some of their best qualities--even with the mistakes, there is such an affecting softness and grace that is conspicuously missing from so many other pairs teams. The choreography is cohesive, and the presentation very heartfelt. I love the innovative little touches--e.g. the entry into their death spiral--that manage to fit in smoothly within the contours of the program. All in all, I'd rather continue watching Narumi Takahashi fall all over her triple jumps than the majority of the other pairs teams right now.
Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy, Pina LP
Aliona Savchenko's and Robin Szolkowy's new long program is brilliant, bold, beautiful and absolutely deserves to crush their new rivals Volosozhar/Trankov's rather inchoate Black Swan (not like that's going to happen if Volosozhar/Trankov skate well, though). Ambitious both in conception and execution, it is wonderful to see how Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy constantly push themselves both technically and artistically instead of resting on their considerable laurels. As proof of its superlative quality, Pina still manages to win me over despite being composed of so many different music cuts (a major pet peeve of mine).
Pina draws its music and inspiration from the German dance film of the same name:
Stunning. Ingo Steuer sure knows how to tug at my heartstrings.