Monday, April 14, 2014

Not like a ballerina.

This is not like a ballerina

I don't see many ballerinas with the torso tight, chest closed, hips tight and closed, shoulders nearly hunched, and chin down facing the floor or ice. This is almost freakish.

See the difference?

See the difference?

Forget the toes. And the skating. Look at the torso, the shoulders, the chest, the neck (not snapped back, btw), the pelvis and the hips. Everything's stretched, lifted, open.

See the difference directly below? Straight up and down. The body isn't connected, there's nothing running "through" the body. And look at that dropped elbow.

See the difference?

Let's look back at the top again.

This is not good. It's bad. I imagine Davis White fans have simply been in the habit of getting those two concepts mixed up for a long time.

I'm having issues embedding Meryl and Charlie's dances from last night, so I'll have to troubleshoot that later.

ETA - okay, here we go:

I haven't broken thse down yet, but I bet Charlie wouldn't have dropped the cane if he engaged his upper body fully when he moves. Charlie trends to "quick" but small. He doesn't really articulate his body unless it's where it's been particularly broken down for him and emphasized by his instructor, and then defaults back to small. He might have caught the cane before it flew away if he didn't have that habit. He needs to keep his chest and shoulders open.

But note that at the end, Sharna is able to rotate without Charlie hunkering down and girdling her with his arm, pasting her to his trunk, and pushing her legs straight.

I do think his partner is a class act, that they connect well, and it helps him phrase, cue off her, and lose himself more in the performance. He shouldn't, IMO, start getting fast-but-unfinished when he starts getting into the performance, but that happened less here than in the jive.

And as for Meryl, I thought this was her best performance in terms of moving with some naturalness and relaxation added into her jackhammer movement style, but then again, there wasn't exactly a ton of movement, period. There were glimpses of samba in tiny segments. It was like DW skating programs (and like Maks' choreography, which means he and Meryl are a match made in heaven) - show a minimal amount of the actual dance - dance, hell, minimize steps, period, and vamp with the upper body. Execute super complicated open hold moves like moving side by side across the floor or ice in a stright line facing the same direction and then switch from right to left in an arm's length hand hold. That blew up the scoreboard in Schez, if memory serves.

Gifs after the jump.

I'm going to put them up and comment more later but I think most of the "samba" speaks for itself. If anybody can explain some of the WTF, feel free.

You know what I just now noticed, and realize happened in the AT too - she tries to or actually does hop or jump in direction changes even on the floor. Look at the elementary direction changes in this "samba".  Little hops, up-jerks and jumps all over the place (and I don't mean the samba "bounce", but when she changes direction).

Pirouettes are my favorite part of samba.

I can't remember what part of samba this is but Meryl is killing it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I'll do more with this later, but I was so curious how Val would handle the positions in the air in Argentine tango, as often the man holds the woman with her feet off the ground, in frame (but supported). With her hips and both legs free, she hits lines with her legs while he turns or moves her from one side of his body to the other. That would require core control and control of her limbs Meryl has never shown in ice dance.

Take a look. The answer is - Val didn't. The strobe lights also helped the illusion of sharpness, as did a costume down one side of her body.

There has to be a reason Meryl's gotten two weeks of tens, and it's not because her dancing has gotten awesome after weeks one and two. Weeks one and two is when the fan vote comes in and the producers know what they've got. Frequently, if the fan vote is crushing it, the show creates suspense by lowering scores and building them over the season. If somebody is not getting the fan vote, then often their scores are inflated to make them seem like the sure winner. Meryl's score inflation is so abrupt, and so disconnected from what she's actually doing, even by DWTs standards, that it makes me suspect a Ricky Lake, Stacey Keibler, or even Mario Lopez situation (my understanding is Mario was popular enough but Emmitt Smith crushed it in the fan vote).

P.S. Charlie has to learn not to jerk his partner from here to there. Actual dancers like Sharna and Peta don't need to be yanked into place. Still, Charlie got an actual critique. This week, the judges decided to notice what was there and not there, and addressed it.

Okay, duly noted from comments contributor 5:34 below, Maks/Meryl's foxtrot got 120,907+ views. What does that tell us? I don't know. If you filter DWTS youtube videos by count, ignoring the non-dancing performances (like Bieber and Selena Gomez) and ignoring pro dances (like the Hough sibs jiving) and count only the highest views for celeb/partner dances, and depending, I'm sure, on how the search is worded, we see these results:

Bill Nye/Tyne cha cha: 3,545,714 views
Nancy Grace wardrobe malfunction: 1,281,543 views
Kim Kardashian Foxtrot: 1,183,195 views

And a whole bunch of Derek Hough dances with both Jennifer Gray and Nicole Scherzinger are over a million.

Gifs start after the jump.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Let's look at lots of teams

Here are more of canadablue's ice dance comparisons. Thanks canadablue.

Every time one watches Meryl skate, new weirdnesses. This time, I saw how her blade will jerk-slip-slide forward on a flat in the middle of a transition. It's as if her foot gets away from her. Watch her feet.They're ridiculous. Charlie's can be messy, and lack control, but she is on flats out of nowhere, and there are so many other instances of seemingly random what-the-fuckery with her skates constantly going on right in our face.

In the twizzles, look at the ice coverage from Tessa and Scott, and that Mery and Charlie's slow to a virtual standstill by the last rotation of the second set.

Let's also just revisit the glory of the team that stood on the top of the ice dance podium in Sochi because of this kind of "skating".

There's that technical precision that gives them the edge.
Well, not the edge, edge, but you know what I mean.
But at least in their twizzles, they're doing that super hard thing of hopping into them, an ultra challenging L4 feature seeing as how you could really hurt yourself trying to get back onto an edge. Hopping into a rotation doesn't create rotational momentum at all. That's why nobody jumps into a spin. Don't listen to actual physics. Listen to Doris Polaski's made-up physics.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Maks is catching on.

Got a better copy of this. As I just watched it, I had to take back the idea of not saying anything until tomorrow. My main question isn't just where did the Foxtrot happen, but where did the dancing happen?

Meryl actually walked this dance. I could see if it were contemporary, where you sort of walk around lyrically in between emoting and lifts, but this is Foxtrot. She was striding through the parts where she wasn't death dropping and kicking. I get when you've got somebody who's not really a dancer - and she's not - you break it up so they don't have to sustain a through line. I get it. But the part where we're to believe she was actually doing the assigned dance, she was walking and striding. No rise and fall. That's what I'm going to gif tomorrow.
Look at Meryl foxtrot.
One wonders what went on in training, and at what point
Maks realized he couldn't teach her to actually dance.
Break out the bag of schtick (He had Kirstie Alley
on the floor in one of their dances too. Of course, she
was 60.)

And this:

8 straight seconds standing dead still. I recounted. 14 seconds standing in one spot on the floor. 7 seconds not even changing position, just lip hovering. I bet even Marina would be hard-pressed to beat that. You go, Maks.

This guy's older than Meryl - it's John O'Hurley from Season 1, doing a foxtrot. I don't think he has a gold medal at home, but he's not taking a load off in the middle of his routine. I'm putting it here so the rise and fall can be observed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's not like Moirville is subtle

It's not random. It doesn't work like that.

And not for nothing, but let's remember a triple play of family events right after the Olympics last time and consider how it's setting up right after the Olympics this time. That didn't stop Scott from putting the Jessica sham on blast or Je taiming Jessica on facebook.

P.S. - this just occurred to me, so file it under the category of "Slow-witted":

Scott and Tessa could be being cagey about their retirement plans in order to keep the spotlight on themselves and Moirville. Yes, I think they want to stay in, but there's the need to stay relevant as well. Moirville went big the past two seasons, and went grabby. But Moirville isn't really good at saying "That's enough." Keeping the issue open keeps VM (and Moirville) in the spotlight.

Look at Shannon Woodhouse's follow-up:

Look at that follow up. Even "good friends" is a lot to see when you're watching from another table. What's the "can't say more than that." There's more to say but I can't say on twitter? Or couldn't tell if it was more?

This is such b.s. Imagine you work in an institution and at the next table is someone else who works there, dining with her well-known son, her husband and a guest. You get on twitter and tell the world the son is there with a well-known guest, and you put your name on that tweet. You don't ask permission to tell the world your colleague's business or her son's business. You know it's just fine you're putting news about a colleague onto the cybersphere. When a stranger on twitter follows up with a question, you are happy to expand and you are unnecessarily cryptic about the status of the famous son and his friend. Shannon Woodhouse is a freaking adult, a grown person, not somebody who just left school. This was a set up.

Please with this.

P.S. - Recapping DWTS tomorrow night - am not watching in real time so will wait til the videos are up on and elsewhere. I do know the scores so far - Meryl on top of the leaderboard. I'm anxious to see if it's the routine or the dancing (Maks got Willa Ford tens for Foxtrot once so it's not always dancing. But if he got Meryl to really do it, good for them. With Willa he pretty much held her up.)

I think there's bizarre score inflation for this season. I recently checked out the season where Zendaya/Val danced and that team got 8s for better stuff than they're giving 9s and 10s for this season. Maybe they're inspired by DW's ice dance career.

My work here is not done

So ISU president Speedy Cinquanta is looking ahead to his 2016 departure, and, as he notes in a recent communique, time's a wasting. A lot has been accomplished, but there's more to be done if the sport is to be irrevocably be stripped of its credibility before his final sayanara.

He shares his thoughts:

There's still time to make figure skating worse

Read that. Does anybody think a penetrating intellect like David Dore's would have trouble controlling this guy?

I don't know why Speedy's plans are so conservative. I've got some ideas:

For pairs:
Divide the rink in half and compress the routine.Two pairs teams compete at the same time, one at each end. Judges compare tricks, and the audience is on the edge of their seats in case one of the throws sends a lady sailing to the wrong end of the rink, decapitating the other guy.

For singles:
No more singles. Singles relay. One by one each skater in each flight races after the other onto the ice and does their opening pose and preliminary stroking. Repeat as each follows the other with their next sequence or element. Only half the footwork is done per turn, because the audience doesn't have the attention span for all that shit at once. The spirals can be completed in one go cause they're pretty.

For dance:
Two teams on the ice at once, but the rink isn't split. At a point to be determined by blind draw at each event, the teams must switch partners before a key, easily apprehended element such as the dance spin or the twizzles. The voting is factored so that the skaters are scored individually, not as a team. At the medal ceremony, it could be Alexandra Paul standing up there with Alex Shibutani.

Monday, March 24, 2014

She's tight with the music all right

I won't be able to gif this until tomorrow, so for now:

Gee, they thought Meryl lost timing a couple of times.

You don't say.

Imagine being an Olympic-gold medal possessing ice dancer on DWTs, getting a dance that goes right to your specialty, which is being tossed, flipped and flung like a sack of laundry while warp-speed flinging out your legs below the knee and your arms from the shoulders out, and the judges can only cough up one extra point from your debut. Meryl is really bad. How can a solid, built-like-a-fireplug, slam-into position, under five feet tall, teen gymnast be a better dancer than a gold-medal draped ice dancer? Shawn Johnson was Yulia Zagoruychenko compared to Meryl. Meryl is terrible!

No rhythm at all, no musicality. Her shoulders, head, back and hips are rigid. She's had two super fast, athletic dances to help her get her feet wet before the slower, dramatic, more controlled, more graceful stuff starts, and she can't pull them off.

She's doing nothing differently in terms of dancing than she did on ice, where judges apparently thought she was so "tight" with that music they wish they had +10's - referencing that section of the guidelines that deals with "tightness" that I can't seem to find anywhere.

This performance has nothing to do with the difficulty of transferring from ice to the floor. She wasn't on the damn floor half the time. This is - she can't dance.

I think the judges are being kind, and were kind last week. They're giving her points for the energy and the fitness. For now they're focusing on her total lack of musicality and her imprecision. Dear God wait til they get to her alignment and her rigidity. Baby steps. Don't want to pile on.

I don't know if I've ever seen an ice dancer with such a stiff, brittle back, who is all knees down, and then arms, no torso, no hips, can't phrase, and has no sense of time. I don't think even Maria Butyrskaya was this tight.

Butyrskaya had better edges too.

Meryl "dances" like one of the exercise obsessives in some high intensity, high impact jazzercise or aerobics class - you could break your face on her muscles, and your jaw drops at the zero body fat, but she has no rhythm whatsoever and walks funny. Little spastic scurrying feet, oblivious to any timing but frantic, is not dancing.

And why not watch Kristy Yamguchi on her first DWTs episode (not a dancer, a singles skater. And a pairs girl), years removed from her competitive prime, and in her thirties:

Okay, waiting for Charlie. And gifs tomorrow.