Irrelevant Information

Aug 28, 2016

Satoko in Space

Let's talk about Satoko Miyahara.

As of now, I am fascinated by her new astronomically-themed long program set to Holst's The Planets suite (Venus and Jupiter, it appears) and the music of Star Wars. For brevity's sake, let's call it Satoko in Space. My response to the program wasn't a love-at-first sight situation: the first time I watched Ms. Miyahara perform Satoko in Space several weeks ago, I though it was kind of bland and was rather bemused by the redolent blast of Jupiter right at the very end. Admittedly, I was also slightly disappointed that it wasn't a voidy mystical/Jedi-themed program using Holst's Neptune with the badass fadeout ending I was secretly hoping for (before you laugh, just imagine Ms. Miyahara doing her layback as those haunting female voices in Neptune quietly fade away into nothing, representing that whole "there is no emotion, there is only peace" vibe).

But like certain particularly pungent cheeses, Satoko in Space improves upon further tasting. I don't think it's quite a masterpiece on the level of Ms. Miyahara's brilliant Miss Saigon long program from the 2014-2015 season, but it definitely is lightyears ahead of Un Sospiro. The music is cut gorgeously (as is typical of a Tom Dickson program), and there's something powerful and uplifting in the way the program builds and builds until the trumpets of Jupiter blasts out at the very end. I just wish Ms. Miyahara's spiral is held out longer and she does something more impactful than that tiny hop at the climax right before the music segues into Jupiter. Also, I wish the program also featured Ms Miyahara's ability to spin in two directions . . .

Nonetheless, I think the music and program as a whole can help Ms. Miyahara improve her projection and command, which are definitely areas she needs to work on. After having watched Ms. Miyahara live in Boston, I understand why the judges are more restrained with the PCS with Ms. Miyahara. It's not solely because of her small size--Shoma Uno is also tiny, but he skates with this surprisingly powerful extension and command that palpably radiates all the way to the nosebleed seats--but there's something miniature in scale and a sort of inward quality to Ms. Miyahara's skating (and I'm not just talking about her jumps) that leaves less of an impression on the audience compared to her competitors. It's telling that Ms. Miyahara's clean skate failed to receive a standing ovation from the audience during an otherwise electric night of skating at Boston Worlds.


  1. So glad to see you back! Yea I was also somewhat disappointed with this program. I was expecting more "Star Wars" in the music. I feel the issue with Satoko is that she lacks natural charisma. On the other hand, Shoma has it in spades; you can see it even from a screen. I'm not sure how much change she can change that since charisma is usually someone you have or you don't. However, she can work on her jumps. Bigger jumps could help her a lot. It helped Ando become world champion twice.

    What do you think of Mao's new programs? I really liked her exhibition; it was very interesting.

  2. @Anonymous at 9:14 AM

    I do agree that Ms. Miyahara lacks natural charisma, but I do think that charisma--or at least projection and performance ability--can be developed to some extent. For example, compare Alexei Yagudin in 1997 to Alexei Yagudin in 2002. Or early Shen/Zhao vs. late career Shen/Zhao. For Ms. Miyahara, I think the program makes all the difference: Un Sospiro/Lori Nichol did her no favors and was a clear step backwards. Ms. Miyahara should be fine if she sticks to Tom Dickson for choreography.

    I've really enjoyed Mao Asada's new programs! Her Bach exhibition is wonderful--I love it when skaters display skills not normally seen in competition during their exhibition programs.