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Katherine HealyWhy did she stop dancing?


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#31 dirac

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 12:03 PM

"Artistry" was once an term actually used within figure skating competitions, although certain notions of artistry may cause a snicker or two if you're not a fan. They've called it a variety of other things during the years. Curry was a great innovator but the shift towards raising the entertainment and performance level of skating gained widespread impetus with the rising influence of television, the rising level of competition and bigger talent pool, and the concomitant de-emphasis of those aspects of the competition that didn't make for entertaining television. Curry was a frustrated dancer who tried to create a sort of ballet company on ice, nor did he like anything about the sugary skating shows of the time. His troupes did some interesting work but didn't last as a template for professional skating for personal and other reasons and also because the methods and structure of a ballet company don't mesh well with the way professional skaters are produced and also it just wasn't the way the wind was blowing.

The "Afternoon of a Faun" is lovely if a tad literal, with that special grace and refinement that was only his.

Healy,

on the other hand, had she chosen an amateur skating career -- it was "amateur" in those days -- would have faced formidable competition in the US ranks, and her jump limitations would have made her a long-shot at best, even if she didn't have other serious interests and options, like ballet and Princeton. To have turned professional at age 11 means that her skating training was as least as formidable as her dance training


She does not appear to have been making the same degree of progress in both fields.

John Curry in his amateur career, even within the restrictions and expectations of competitive skating, showed that elusive artistry: his "Don Quixote" Long Program was masterful in the seamless transitions in music and movement, the posture, the glide the characterization, while Robin Cousins, who is an amazing skater, had musical cuts four years later that are un-listenable and his program has little coherence outside the requirements of competitive skating.


The musical cuts were customary at the time and continued to be so for some time. Curry had cuts in his beautiful and masterly (if dated in some respects) program, although he used the same piece of music (which can be quite as jarring, although Curry handled it better than others. Cousins, like Curry, selected and edited his own music with a view to offending the ear to the minimum and he was and is quite musical.

You could choose almost any other LP of the era as your HE, but I should suggest Dorothy Hamill's LP from the same year. It's by no means horrible and neither is the music choice, and America's Sweetheart is just fine, but it's lacking in structure and choreography; it just goes on and on until it stops. As Buttons rhapsodized in this commentary, Curry's program "has a beginning, a middle, and an end!"

#32 bart

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 12:47 PM

My main problem a great deal of artistic skating is that the skaters don't seem to be able (or willing?) to hide the effort, both preparation and muscle power, behind what they do. Curry avoids this almost all the time. His jumps and turns seem to come out of nowhere. He pays attention to port de bras (those long slender arms help) and the positioning of head and shoulders.

In the Faun video, I love most of all Curry's willingness actually to move slowly to the slow music and the way he creates the illusion that this is easy. This cannot be easy. But he sustains the adagio feeling even in jumps and turns. There is that moment in the video (7:35 or so) when he h-o-l-d-s a first arabesque balance.. Then he performs a slight fondu (to get push, I assume) and slowly glides backwards. It's both original and, somehow, very moving.

Dancers can do some of this as well. But ... they are not balancing on a single skate blade. :tiphat:

#33 puppytreats

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 03:03 PM

What does it mean to turn pro at age 9 or 11 as a skater? I did not know young skaters performed in professional ice shows.

What would you consider Oksana's gold medal Olympic performance?

#34 Helene

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 04:08 PM

What does it mean to turn pro at age 9 or 11 as a skater? I did not know young skaters performed in professional ice shows.

In her time, it meant getting paid to skate and/or for endorsements. Now it means to perform in a show, tour, production, etc. that is not sanctioned by or without permission from the skater's national federation and/or by the International Skating Union, which means a skater loses eligibility to compete in ISU events and the Olympics, for which the ISU is recognized as the governing body. (Skaters are now called "eligible" rather than "amateur".) During the TV heydey for figure skating, the ISU loosened its regulations to allow skaters to compete in Pro-Ams and shows like "Champions on Ice", where they could earn enough to pay for their training, in order to prevent well-known skaters from going pro and not showing up on TV for what is now the ISU Grand Prix and the ISU championships, which was one of the reasons for the demise of professional skating.

The technical demands for professional skating are much less than for eligible skating. Healy was a technically enough proficient skater to turn pro at an age where, depending on the school, she might not even have begun pointe work, or where she might be just beginning pointe work. A competitive skater that age would already have a number of jumps, spins, edges from school figures (which have been eliminated and are now a cult event), and years of semi-private and private coaching sessions. Whether she realized she would not have the full competitive arsenal of jumps and decided to go pro -- her wrap would have made it very difficult -- or it was an opportunity she didn't want to pass up because she had so many interests, we won't know unless she speaks about it.

What would you consider Oksana's gold medal Olympic performance?

Compared to Curry's Olympic program, in terms of construction, coherency, and performance, I don't think there is another that matches it in singles, although Boitano's was very, very well constructed and skated and Kulik's and Arakawa's solid programs that were very well skated. By 1988, the skaters were doing all of the triples and triple/triple combinations, and Kulik added the quad; it wasn't until Patrick Chan's programs over the last few years -- by Curry alumna Lori Nichols -- that long, telegraphed entrances into difficult jumps that were considered necessary for several decades were replaced by footwork and changing edges into them for nearly every jump. (Chan still lacks them going into his nemesis jump, the triple axel.)

Baiul's programs were neither that well skated nor well constructed, although her SP was better than her LP: flapping one's arms while one one's toe-picks does not an artist make, and her long program was an incoherent mix of brash show music. As far as elegance, any attempt was blown away by the way she roller-bladed down the ice to prepare for her jumps. It always reminds me of the male strippers on the Robyn Byrd show, who would be in their "Hey, baby" persona, until it was time to wriggle awkwardly out of their bike shorts.

The second mark in the 6.0, ordinals, and OBO ("Or best ordinal") systems was called the "Artistic Mark". However, by the rules of figure skating, this was not a personal take on artistry, even if it was often used that way. There were about ten specific criteria, all of which are now covered in the new judging system in the five "Presentation Component Scores" (PCS), although the new system has more explicit sub-criteria for each of the components. They included glide, flow, unison, choreographic composition of the program, interpretation, and multi-directional skating. I've lost my link to the actual wording of the old "Artistic" mark.

#35 puppytreats

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 05:27 PM

1. What did you think about Nancy K. that same year?

2. Why on earth did you have to remind us of the Robyn Byrd show and the awful things seen while changing channels in those days???? I will now have nightmares.

#36 Helene

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 08:18 PM

1. Nancy Kerrigan had a typical competitive program of her era. I've never heard her called an artist, and I don't think she was or that she tried to be, as either a competitive skater or a professional.

2. I loved the Robyn Byrd show. It was like watching The Tonight Show for strippers -- they'd sit in their robes and discuss their films like the actors who appear with Jay Leno, except the robe was usually more clothing than most actresses wear on Leno, and he never molests his guests at the end of the show.

I always wished someone would teach the men how to take off their clothes so that it was part of their dance. The women figured it out.

#37 dirac

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 12:09 AM

puppytreats, there are a number of good figure skating forums, where you'll encounter a variety of strongly contrasting views, to put it mildly, some quite different from what you're reading here. It'll take you awhile to get your feet wet, but it'll pay off if you're genuinely interested.

Healy didn't have the jumps. Not really that complicated nor particulary mysterious, IMO.

#38 Alymer

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 01:38 AM

--Ashton thought highly enough of Healy to choose her for the "first cast" in the re-setting of his Romeo and Juliet--and I have read praise for that performance as Juliet elsewhere. I also once spoke to someone who saw her at a gala (somewhat later in her career) and found the quality of her movement very beautiful


If I can add a detail (rather belatedly) to this account, at the time Ashton was working on his reconstructed Romeo and Juliet I spoke to him after one rehearsal and he said "I think it has to be the little whiz(his name for Healy). All the others have their own ideas about the role and she will be my Juliet".

Several other dancers were learning the part and subsequently performed it. Sevillano had not yet joined the company. But there's no doubt that Healy was an accomplished dancer, Ashton clearly enjoyed pushing her and incorporated some aspects of her skating technique into at least one scene.

#39 Helene

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 12:31 PM

Thank you, Alymer!

Healy didn't have the jumps. Not really that complicated nor particulary mysterious, IMO.

Considering that she turned professional at 11, an age at and after which she'd be expected to get the harder jumps that require more upper body strength, and that many skaters much older have re-tooled their jump technique to gain additional revolutions, it isn't certain that she'd never have rid herself of the wrap and gotten the harder jumps.

She clearly made a decision that skating competitively wasn't in her future, and as a professional, she didn't need the jumps, especially skating for Curry, who had already eliminated from his own skating the jumps she couldn't do. In his "Faun" for example, he did two split jumps -- may have been falling leaves -- and two single axels, which she could do with ease after not having skated for seven years.

I think it's fascinating that Ashton capitalized on some of her skating technique, because Curry clearly capitalized on her ballet training.

#40 MRR

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 11:13 AM

1. What did you think about Nancy K. that same year?


I agree with what Helene said, but I would have given the gold medal to Kerrigan that year. She had a triple-triple, triple lutz late into the program (for Baiul it was her first jump), and while both women had issues with the triple flip--Kerrigan doubled it and Baiul heavily two-footed the landing--Kerrigan's error was more forgivable for me (athough the current skating judging system wouldn't see it that way). Baiul's program I liked more than Kerrigan's--but not a whole lot--and even though the artistic mark was the tiebreaker, Kerrigan was superior technically to the point of convincing me that she was robbed.

Someone mentioned skating forums, I can give links to a couple:

Figure Skating Universe: http://www.fsuniverse.net/
Golden Skate: http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/

#41 puppytreats

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 12:12 PM


1. What did you think about Nancy K. that same year?


I agree with what Helene said, but I would have given the gold medal to Kerrigan that year. She had a triple-triple, triple lutz late into the program (for Baiul it was her first jump), and while both women had issues with the triple flip--Kerrigan doubled it and Baiul heavily two-footed the landing--Kerrigan's error was more forgivable for me (athough the current skating judging system wouldn't see it that way). Baiul's program I liked more than Kerrigan's--but not a whole lot--and even though the artistic mark was the tiebreaker, Kerrigan was superior technically to the point of convincing me that she was robbed.

Someone mentioned skating forums, I can give links to a couple:

Figure Skating Universe: http://www.fsuniverse.net/
Golden Skate: http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/



MRR, Weren't you a baby at the time, or am I mixing you up with someone else? My impression was that Nancy thought she was (a) superior artistically and (b) superior technically, because of her spiral, which did not impress, and © entitled, well, because of what happened.

#42 MRR

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 12:25 PM



1. What did you think about Nancy K. that same year?


I agree with what Helene said, but I would have given the gold medal to Kerrigan that year. She had a triple-triple, triple lutz late into the program (for Baiul it was her first jump), and while both women had issues with the triple flip--Kerrigan doubled it and Baiul heavily two-footed the landing--Kerrigan's error was more forgivable for me (athough the current skating judging system wouldn't see it that way). Baiul's program I liked more than Kerrigan's--but not a whole lot--and even though the artistic mark was the tiebreaker, Kerrigan was superior technically to the point of convincing me that she was robbed.

Someone mentioned skating forums, I can give links to a couple:

Figure Skating Universe: http://www.fsuniverse.net/
Golden Skate: http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/



MRR, Weren't you a baby at the time, or am I mixing you up with someone else? My impression was that Nancy thought she was (a) superior artistically and (b) superior technically, because of her spiral, which did not impress, and © entitled, well, because of what happened.


Yes, I was one year old in 1994 :) I do follow skating regularly though and have familiarized myself with a lot of old competitions (although I have never skated before).

I agree that Kerrigan seemed entitled, but what I will say about her (in the 1993/1994 season) is that she came to competitions prepared, trained, fit, et al. She got some very lucky results early in her career--the 1991 Worlds bronze and (especially) her 1992 Olympics bronze--but her inconsistency in training earlier in her career caught up to her at the 1993 Worlds, where she finished 5th because of a disastrous free skate. The result motivated her and she was really in the condition of her life at the 1994 Olympics even coming back from that crazy incident.

I don't think anyone really great spiral sequence extensions in those days, but Nancy's was one of the nicer ones IMO even though she supported her leg with her arm. It wasn't until Nicole Bobek (and then Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen) when the standards were set at a much higher level.

Anyway, sorry that I've hijacked the thread with this discussion!


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