carmen cramping at 4cc

days before 4cc, which would be a disaster when tessa developed leg cramps before a lift and had to stop for a few minutes, the us figure skating assocation was on a mission to redefine the narrative. lois elfman managed to find a reality tv dance expert (henry byalikov) to comment on the top free dance routines of the season. they addressed tessa and scott, coming up with this icenetwork article. i don't know what's more ridiculous so you choose. is it, "points of improvement, from my dancer's perspective, would be choreographic choices/connection, leg line and lift choice"? or is it, "tessa and scott did not connect the whole way through this particular routine"? or maybe the conclusion, "within the given choreographic framework, they, at times, missed out on the genuine connection needed to be exhibited by a couple with such high technical ability"?

so much to talk about, but let's get efficient and pick one thing: choreographic choices. to icenetwork's expert, tessa and scott's choreography sucks. let's take the opinion of jodi porter, choreographer and american ice theatre founder. "one program that she singles out for its use of the modern vocabulary, coincidentally, is virtue and moir’s carmen: “that’s the first piece that i’ve seen on the ice where you could see the use of momentum and body weight, and the way that stayed through their bodies and moved through the space, and then to have that release of movement using their whole body, from their arms and the way that they had a freeness about them. that’s the first time that i’ve seen those concepts really integrated and used." (the interview is found here.) the idea that carmen is a choreographic disaster is not shared by all dance experts. far from disasterous, it's exemplary. jodi is trying to start a program that can teach skaters how to bring this kind of modern dance into skating. as for a lack of connection, that's the criticism that meryl and charlie always get. in fact, they identify that as their weakness.

yet funnily enough, after this expert watches notre dame de paris, he writes that "this is one of the rare times that i have watched such an inspired, emotionally driven performance by a skating duo. in particular, i was drawn to the baryshnikov-esque passion exhibited authentically, throughout the performance, in different shades and colors, by charlie. he comes across seamless and incredibly fluid, and i'm extremely impressed with his performance. in my opinion, passion is the most important element in any performance art, and it's a very difficult tightrope walk to achieve that balance between technical and emotional prowess. nevertheless, this couple certainly delivers in those aspects. the connection between them is strong and expressive, while maintaining enough subtlety to perform the more sensitive moments of the routine. from the opening move to the closing, their portrayal of opposition, and yet desire for one another, was a highlight of this performance for me." excluding the ballet comparision, isn't that what people say about tessa and scott's skating, not meryl and charlie's?

does icenetwork really think that if they flip the script and say it often enough that it suddenly becomes true? i guess so. tessa and scott fans found this particular article ridiculous (charlie reminds him of baryshnikov?!), but i think we'd be wise to remember that a lot of people believed it or wanted to believe it. i don't go into the other meryl and charlie articles, but this gives you a clue about their tactics. those articles came out more frequently during the end of the season, where pro-tessa and scott articles kind of faltered.

take the actual 4cc articles ... pj still writes about how stunned she is that meryl and charlie win on both the technical scores and program component scores, with the exception of choreography. to her, that is rightfully off limits. carmen is so high end in its choreography that it makes notre dame de paris seem plain. but the rest of the articles just focus on the injury and break. again, that's not the narrative you want going into worlds. there's no buzz about carmen anymore. there's doubt around tessa's health. there's so much drama about the break, restart and lack of deduction. there's no momentum to speak of. if the us figure skating association wants to take control of the narrative for meryl and charlie, it's the perfect time to do so -- and that's exactly what they do.


notes on the score

even with the leg problem, carmen scores 109.20, a season's best so far. a pathetic one really, comparing it just to tessa and scott's own standards. the season has only one competition left and carmen has yet to break the 110 milestone. they skated eight times last season and went over 110 four times. most observers had expected the marks to come together by now, but they're not.

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