TX 3 – Judging Musicals Week – DANCE: TEN, LOOKS: THREE (A CHORUS LINE)
This is the first week we’ll see all the remaining couples skate. I’ve given my thoughts on how the show encourages and influences viewers, and vice versa (see Blog Post 1) and my thoughts on the judging process (Blog Post 5). This week, I’m going to review the skates using the concepts I discussed in those posts. Over time, we’ll see how the outcomes compare to what really happens on Dancing On Ice.
NOTE: I’ve posted comments live, but will edit for clarity LATER. my judging chart IS POSTED BELOW.
I hope you enjoy my musical references 😊
Before I do that though, I’m going to talk a bit about the week on social media. I’ve marked it RANT, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you don’t want to read this part, Skip It.
There’s a hole in the world like a big black pit who are filled with people who are filled with sh** ~Sweeney Todd
I’m extremely disappointed by what I’ve observed this week on social media regarding this show and figure skating. My first blog post touched upon the interplay between social media, voting on reality shows, marketing and the PR machine of big broadcast companies. No doubt, that can be great fun – and also no doubt it makes big money for those who end up on the “up” side of those PR efforts. But, it can also seriously damage people’s lives, basically through what I call “Trial by Social Media.”
Many complained this week that DOI wasn’t giving “equal coverage” to all the celebs. Well, it’s not a news show, so they’re not required to, and how much fun people are having reading and commenting on the tabloids about Megan, Vanessa, Wes, Louis, etc.! And, how many new social media followers [which = £ people!) some of them achieved through this effort. It’s so much fun that the show even dredged up the old ditty about how the “Dancing On Ice Curse” is just as real as the “Strictly Curse.”
You know, maybe for some, these are just “showmances” and “tactical breakups,” but maybe not for others. Consider that before you sling nasties & hate out on social media. Consider the assumptions you are making and that real people are on the other end of the internet. My girlfriend broke up with me mid-show last year because she couldn’t deal with watching the show (If you’re not a dancer, skater, etc. it’s hard to understand it’s work that includes touching – and to be clear – for me it was work. There was no romance for me on the show.) My biggest request was that she NOT post her upset on social media – and this week shows exactly why. I’m grateful she kept her own counsel. Some of those involved subscribe to “all PR is good PR,” maybe others not so much.
Why does this matter? Well, at the same time this social media drivel was going on, a US international figure skater, who had been accused of “misconduct violations” that were yet to be fully investigated was put on the required interim suspension during this supposedly confidential, non-court-based procedure. We don’t know the details of his case – we aren’t supposed to. What we do know is that all his work and brand endorsements were pulled from him (because of the suspension), and that two media outlets ran with the story, adding the phrase, “what are believed to be allegations of sexual misconduct,” with no sources. I’m not even going to repeat what that led to on social media, but think for a bit and I’m sure you can figure it out. He committed suicide Friday night – “Trial by Social Media.”
I had a coach years ago that was emotionally abusive, but it wasn’t sexual. After a lengthy, confidential process, he was suspended for a year. I hope he learned his lesson, though I can’t control that. What I can say is that I would not have wanted to be in any way responsible for creating and spreading assumptions across social media outside that grievance process. What a burden that would be if suicide resulted!
So, I’ve been on both sides of this issue:
“Trial by Social Media:” It’s Wrong, It’s Dangerous. Don’t Do It!
No one should stick it out or have any doubt that it matters that they are here. ~Evan Hansen
And, if you’re struggling – ask for help.
Lady on a building: I'm going to jump!
All: Don't do it!
Lady on a building: OK!
Now, on to what is supposed to be a beautiful performance sport & a group of celebrities who supposedly wanted to learn new skills from professionals.
In the order they skated:
Didi Conn & Lukasz Rozycki “Spoonful Of Sugar,” Mary Poppins
Didi did a really great job acting out her character but is still extremely uncomfortable on one foot while skating on her own. Her pro is working very hard to make sure she is completely balanced on one foot both within her standard skating and also on her spin. The behind the back cross hold is good way to provide more support to the spine and the core while still showing an interesting handhold than just standard hand to hand.
Jane Danson & Sylvain Longchambon “I Dreamed A Dream,” Les Miserables
Sylvain made a nice save to keep the spin going - placing his foot down in the beginning to re-center. Extensions of the free leg needs work as Jane is still pushing using her hips, and not so much her knees and the extension of her ankles. It is clear that Sylvain is still using his strength in order to keep Jane’s core stable and her weight over her legs, but the center of her body is still behind the heel of her skates.
Richard Blackwood & Carlotta Edwards “Beggin’,” Jersey Boys
Richard showed much more comfort in his solo skating than his last program, but he is still really rigid in his legs - specifically his thighs. His knees and his ankles are not bending enough to create a proper center for his skating.
Very nice save on his spin! He is showing that he has started to grow a comfort on where he needs to balance on the blades in relation to the different elements. Completely agree with Jason - don’t mind if one falls as long as the effort is pushed to an extreme and it is clear that the performance is being pushed to a limit. You can only learn if you are pushing the boundaries, not if you stay in the comfort zone.
On performance though, well, I’m from New Jersey and that wasn’t really Jersey Boy, but headed in the right direction!
Sara Aalto & Hamish Gaman “Let it Go,” Frozen (Saara Aalto version)
So wait, [a skater is gliding on the ice] and out of nowhere [s]he just starts singing? ~Something Rotten
Nice forward crossovers and control on her edges! Strong camel position! Actually stopped typing to appreciate her singing and skating. I would have loved to see her glide on one foot as she sang in order to express her comfort on one foot, but the performance aspect was much higher than others so far and you could sense her excitement through the entire performance. From a technical standpoint - her knee bend has stayed similar to the week before. The stiffness is still present when showtime comes and it is especially present on her mohawks and extensions to the side, but she has shown an extremely strong control of her direction and momentum. Choreography was much better as well!
Pro-tip - the spin used in this performance is actually easier to perform than a standard upright spin as it uses more of the conservation of energy in more centered and lower position thus creating easier to control ball shape versus a harder to control “pole” shape, but it looks SO much better! Nice lifts too. I love how this team is developing and this performance!
Brian McFadden & Alex Murphy “Fat Sam’s Grand Slam,” Bugsy Malone
Choreography was fantastic! You can tell Brian’s comfort with this style of skating and you can tell that it has helped Brian build his technique on the ice. I believe that the performance aspect was there in Brian’s face this week, but there were many movements that were cut short and were hesitant. The spin itself - judges challenge - was not extremely well executed because of a constant pull inward that did not benefit the spin. I feel that Brian was even surprised with his performance this go around. Great recovery from the initial mistake!
James Jordan & Alexandra Schaumann “Phantom of the Opera,” Phantom of the Opera
What Musicals Taught Me: Don’t sit under the chandeliers! 😉
Three turn was quite strong. The crossovers were much stronger than any we have seen so far. The twizzle was a proper twizzle - great save from hitting his toe pick. Judges’ challenge was actually the hardest one that has been executed! From a performance aspect - the choreography was too centered around the cape in the beginning and then slowly faded away as the program continued. Technically speaking, he has improved somewhat - but I would like to see more extension and drive through the standing leg with each push. I can imagine the progression getting to a point of one push covering the entire ice. Jason describes the lack of choreography in a specific but correct manner, but - important note - Skating with a cape and a mask is not easy - even for most professionals. I am really impressed with this team!
Saira Khan & Mark Hanretty “I’d Do Anything,” Oliver
Mark picked a great spin in order to help Saira keep her balance though it still fell a tad short. This week’s choreography really showed her discomfort on her skates, which made the program feeling static and slow. Much like the week before, there is a lot of lifting, but this week has really shown how much work Mark as the pro is doing in order to make her shine as much as possible. We would really need to push Saira to skate with bent legs - exercises to maintain a bent position all the way through her pushes. Much like what Jason and Ashley said earlier on in the show, pushing one to the boundaries and falling is better than trying to stay within the comfort zone. Even if Mark was to assist with Saira’s skating, she needs to be assisted only in a one foot glide with changing edges in order to build her own comfort.
It’s interesting to me that Jane commented on the judge’s challenge NOT being completed here, which was acknowledged, but it’s quite unclear how that is reflected in scores.
Ryan Sidebottom & Brandee Malto “Tale as Old as Time,” Beauty and the Beast
I’ve picked on some costumes, I know, but great job on the Beast costume - though I bet it isn’t the easiest to skate in. The costume, and prosthetics, really did bring this whole piece together.
Very nice forward crossover, but can still see a lack of extension through each push. Simply, Ryan did a very VERY nice job improving since last week. There is still much to work on in relation to the upper body leading his movements forward versus the knees and pelvis driving the motion forward.
The judges’ challenge spin was just about 2 rotations, but again, this is the HARDEST partnered spin to perform. I can tell there has been a lot of focused attention to the technique and polish of the skating. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing more of Ryan next week!
Wes Nelson & Vanessa Bauer “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” Hairspray
Wes is definitely showing his youthfulness in his skating but, in all honesty, it is lacking polish. He is definitely pushing himself with this knee bend which is allowing him to do the sharp and jumping motions that were executed in this week’s performance, but he doesn’t have the control. The rotations are constantly using the same momentum direction and - like last week - there is not any change of directionality in the program. The Judges’ Challenge spin they performed was well done but one of the easiest partnered spins to perform as the professional partner is easily able to assist with maintaining the position and pulling out of the center to maintain “orbit.” The position is also particular to the elliptical shaping that drives a spin from a physics standpoint - I will be speaking to this in the coming Tuesday MoveDay on my IGTV [find it at this link] - so keep your eyes open if you’re interesting in learning more.
I do like this team, but am still not seeing them at the top like the judges are. I think James’ and Saara’s actual skating is superior thus far, and should be given more credit.
Gemma Collins & Matt Evers “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Well, I just can’t even. Sorry, there was really no skating there. I do think there was a reasonable attempt at presenting the character, but am not interested in the social media comments. See my [/RANT] in the other column for why. I’m interested in the skating, and it’s hard to say much when there seems to be a lack of interest in the skating itself from this team.
Melody Thornton & Alex Demetriou “America,” West Side Story
So much potential here! Take deep breaths before next week’s skate! Though Melody’s hands were sloppy in the beginning & nerves were definitely getting to her before the real waltz jump - it was a solid waltz jump. She started off really quite strong, but the nerves and little stumbles definitely got to her. In short, I think that the quickness of this number was tough for her to keep up with, and she wasn’t comfortable finding her center and moving around the ice so quickly. This number had a lot of technicality that was really difficult to execute, but I love that they really pushed the edge of the envelope here. It will pay off in future weeks as Melody calms down.
Melody has great ability to shine and become a super strong skater. Really up there with James on the level of potential.
I have to thank Ale Izquierdo for finding this week’s “Who Wore It Better?”😁
I say they both wore it equally well! [pictures below]
Who Is Skating Off Into the Sunset?
I definitely do not agree with who is in the skate-off, but that’s the result - naught you can do. Sad to see either of these teams go.
Richard Blackwood & Carlotta Edwards
I think their main program for the week was much stronger than their skate off program. To me, it felt like they hadn’t really worked much on the skate off program or added more difficult elements as Richard’s skating developed.
Saira Khan & Mark Hanretty
Well, I had a hard time writing comments on this because I was too busy laughing that this was Brooke’s and my skate off music! Plus, one of the lifts we did - flashbacks, flashbacks! 😂😂
Seriously, I felt this was definitely the stronger skate off program, and agree with Jayne and Chris on saving this team.
Question Received During the Show: Do you think, as a professional, there is too much complicated choreography too soon?
The simple answer, No. The long answer - Choreography is really less about what we are seeing as the steps and turns, etc. but more about the whole package and the way the steps and movements express the character/story. Regarding the “complication,” the difficulty of the steps and turns is being properly brought to the level of the individual skaters. Remember that skating is not just physical, it is also mental. It takes time for a skater to comfortably do in performance/competition what they can do in practice. I love to see these teams pushing boundaries with one caveat - lifts and certain other moves that can be extremely dangerous if not done properly.
Until next week, I’l close with a line from one of tonight’s musicals:
“I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage on! The cold never bothered me anyway.” ~ from Frozen ⛸❤
If you have any questions or comments, please comment below. I’ll do my best to reply. However, nasty comments, spam and such will be deleted – my discretion. I’m happy to engage in dialogue, but you won’t find me trash talking Dancing On Ice, the celebrities or skating professionals here, and I won’t have that on my website.
Thanks for reading!!