Saturday, November 19, 2011

Finger Tips (Part One)

I need to make a point right from the start of this blog.
I feel better now.
What is this all about?
It's about fingertips.

I've been watching marathon Grand Prix skating over the past few weeks and I realized something about my viewing habits that would make me a horrible judge. While everyone chatters about transitions, edges, spins, etc., I find myself transfixed by fingertips. Like eyes, fingertips reflect the soul - particularly in a program. I can tell from the first few moments if a skater has a clue about what they are skating to, if they understand the music; if they've had any dance training at all.

I'm not talking about the lounge singer point and shake your booty thing. That's just sad. I'm talking about real choreography and feeling the music. To me, dance means extension - from your toes all the way through your fingertips. It becomes transcendent in skating when it seemlessly combines with jumps, spins and footwork to make you feel as if you can almost see the music, not just hear it. I don't like leaving a program "humming the costume," but my Thumper Theory mentality won't allow me to jump through the screen (with a +3 GOE), shake the skater, coach or choreographer and say, "What were you THINKING?!"  

Certainly, I'm not talking about young skaters. They don't have the life experience yet to truly understand their music. They have their hands full just remembering their programs at all. I'm talking about elite skaters. These people have been on the world stage. For all the "miles" they've put on as competitors, I am simply amazed how many of them either choose, or let someone else choose, music that has nothing to do with their skating. Even if they don't have a note of music in their bodies, they should at least look like they do. That requires taking some form of dance, something I've been harping on for years. I'm not saying they have to be a Baryshnikov or a Curry; there just needs to be some relating to the skate, because when the oohs and aahs die down after the jumps and spins, what's left? The skater and the music - and hopefully something that elicits more than deafening silence from the crowd.

There have been some magic moments already this season from skaters who became their music, and even some flashes of real brilliance in programs that were less than perfect. These are the ones you hope to see again and again - getting better and better. These are the ones you hope will make you want to stand up and point at your TV or computer screen - or stand up in the arena - and cheer.

I hope you get the point. I hope we ALL do!


  1. Amen, sister! I can't believe all the elite skaters whose hands are horrible and who can't even begin to attempt pointing their toes in skates. Just ridiculous!

  2. Double Amen! As a national and world class choreographer, I also look at how the fingers finish the movement. But I also look at their toes and how they turn out the free foot. As for music, many of today's elite skaters skate to music that everyone else before them have used. To me, there wasn't enough thought process in developing the entire program. I'm tired of seeing and watching clones of past programs. You see the same crotch shot to the judges in a spiral where one would hold their leg up in the air or the same arm movement. Its like they purchased the movement that was used over and over again from past programs. Lets applaud those who put their thoughts in programs and to learn how to feel the music in ways they have never felt it before. Then interpret the music. To me, that makes the skater original and unique.