The second post by guest writer Garrett Kling about the 2013 U.S. Nationals takes a look at his three choreographic picks from the men’s short programs. Kling is a budding choreographer who was a former competitive skater on the national scene.
In a fierce competition testing who can combine technical mastery with artistic expression, twenty men competed in the short program of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday. Watching the competition live, there were a series of performances that captured the crowd’s attention by bringing them to their feet. In particular, three performances stood out for me from a choreographic standpoint — three performances that deserve a special mention.
Jason Brown – 7th place
Few skaters possess the unlimited range of movement and ability that Brown achieves. In a departure for him this season he used a slinky piece of music by Prince with choreography by Rohene Ward. The music demands an interpretation of innate musicality with its syncopation, varying tempos and dynamics. Ward is a master at crafting unique arm motifs while creating intricate footwork. Brown nails all the musical cues while weaving in and out of elements.
Even with a miss on his triple axel, the performance Brown gives is nothing short of full attack and energy. His level four footwork sequence was the highest scoring footwork of the event. Receiving a whopping 5.70 points, he used a brilliant range of body levels, contrast of tempo and most of all difficult and unique twizzles.
Jonathan Cassar – 8th place
At 26 years old, Cassar is a veteran competitor who has never quite cracked the top 10 in the U.S. The lack of a triple axel has held him back in the past, but he has made up for it with his gorgeous skating skills, quality and to-die-for spread eagles. The word to best sum up his skating is “expansive” — his movement stretched to the nose bleeds as he moved through the ice.
Collaborating choreography with David Wilson, his interpretation of “Bring Him Home” effortlessly transitioned in and out of his elements using arm movements with purpose and definition. Every little step and cross cut had a meaning which directly translated to the audience and the judges. Because of this, his standing ovation was well deserved.
Alex Johnson – 12th place
The difference between movement on the ice and the floor is the skater’s ability to carve space and leave a grade report of edges on the ice markings. It takes what would be impossible on the ground to reality on the ice. With help from his master choreographer Tom Dickson, Johnson used his edges most extraordinarily. By using difficult rockers, counters and brackets, the music of Gershwin came to life.
Johnson’s line and smooth quality of movement also gave attention to the nuances of the music that Gershwin is known to compose. I believe Johnson should have received higher Skating Skills and Transition scores – mid 6s do not give him the credit he deserves.
PREVIOUS: Short dance – all about the theme
NEXT: Davis/White’s free dance – a cinematic masterpiece