Don't misunderstand. I am not opposed to IJS; even if I were, it wouldn't do any good. After all, skating is a sport and the "new" system - now a decade old - is here to stay. It is what it is. But it takes some special talent to figure out how to work within it in order to bring the art back. Yes, jumps are important because that's what the sport is about. But when it is the only focus, the art of skating - and the interest of the people who support skating - is lost. In my humble opinion, something needs to be done to bring balance back - figuratively, as well as literally.
With all that said, there are so many men who are breaking barriers in the art and sport now, showing audiences you can work within the system to deliver both athleticism and artistry. I call it HE-ART.
Legendary coach Audrey Weisiger, along with a group of friends including the irrepressible Doug Mattis, started one of the most important movements in skating, as far as I am concerned. It's called Young Artists' Showcase and 2013 will mark its fourth year. Some incredible choreography - and skating - has come from this program, including personal favorites by Kate McSwain, Sean Rabbitt, Mark Hanretty, Garrett Kling and Tommy Steenberg, to name only a few of the many great performances presented over the past three seasons of YAS. These skaters/choreographers - and all the ones putting their skills and talents to the test in this amazingly creative process - are keeping the light on for the rest of us who occasionally feel like we are peering into the abyss of TES.
Recently, Audrey said this to me about what the program means to young skaters and aspiring choreographers:
So, here's the first of my Valentine Cards dedicated to some of the men who, over the years, have made me love skating through programs with style, grace and athleticism, showing us that skating can be a Man's World, too.I created YAS for those that love a performance from the heart and soul of the artist. People that simply love the feeling skating can bring to them and the lucky audience that gets to share the joyful experience.
You've got to have HE-ART
Next up: The Choreographers