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24 February 2010 @ 01:09 am
STILL not quite well, so this time it's ice dancing.  
I wanted to ignore the ice dancing. For me it is one of those almost-sports, like synchronised swimming. Don't misunderstand me, I've swum in synchronicity, and it's bloody hard work, but it's the poor cousin of both swimming and gymnastics, just as ice dance is the bastard child of figure skating.

Noel Streatfield is to blame for me thinking this. In White Boots one of the girls is not as committed as the other, and is told she needn't fret, there's always exhibition skating to console herself with, even if she knows it's not real skating. Quite.

So ignore I would. Except that then I read my flist and saw 'OMG! SO GOOD!' on several posts. Clearly ice dancing had gone up a level since previous Olympics (always excepting Torvill and Dean, who were not naff the first time I saw that routine. Fairly poxy by rendition 428, though.) All right, I decided, I would watch, and take it seriously.

Because I am a cautious woman, I taped it. And in the end, I could only take it half seriously.

And because Australia's Channel 9 EXCELS at ineptitude, we have only a few of the couples, out of order, and with long sections of crap and men's aerials in between. So half of the insanity that follows I blame on the middle ear infection that has knocked me flat this last week, the other half on the fact that no one can follow anything with coverage this bad.

France's Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder were the first couple up for me. These two took to the ice with wonderful rapport and humour, so much so that I thought I would not be able to laugh at them at all. Their clothes were restrained and elegant, a strapless LBD for her and all black for him, and their choreography was elegant, fluid and hugely enjoyable to watch. Plus she only gave birth last October, what a champ! And then she pulled down the top of her frock to reveal a bedazzled bustier and a Charles Aznavour sound-alike began to croon that old chestnut from  Man of La Mancha. And then Isabelle's skirt was stuck up around her waist for the next minute after the lifts. Her innate Gallic coolness made it seem like knickers were the new black, though. I really enjoyed this routine, I have to confess, which probably means they will lose and lose horribly. But tonight, at the Olympic Village, when everyone else is shaking the hands of the medal winners, these two are the ones that everyone will secretly want to be hanging out with.

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White appear 20 minutes later in the broadcast. Why am I even surprised? Phantom of the Opera! OH YES! That is classic Ice Dancing lunacy! And look! Crazy arms, wild hair! Spinning AND emoting! Oh Americans, don't ever change! This routine was obviously choreographed by Jerry Bruckheimer and I suspect it will be a massive hit with the judges. They're up, they're down, they're doing things on one leg, really quickly!! And now he is flinging her about and around and TEMPO CHANGE! Look deep into each other's eyes and do the hand down cheek thing, that's the one, pretend she's a horse and you're Jack Twist internalising your emotions. Actually, given how he's skating with his mouth open and just clamped down on her shoulder, it's more Edward Cullen, externalising his ... I quite like her frock, you know, and would wear it in public. But his top is scaring me. It's the sort of thing that slimy old men wore to New Romantic gigs in the 80s in a bid to pick up teenaged girls. Lovely unison and step sequences, though. Swoopy bit, REALLY nice lift, schmoozy floorwork bit, followed by yet another mood change. And I have to confess here that they're really rather good, though I cannot shake the feeling that there's more than a touch of the Hot Gossip dancers about the whole thing. Maybe it's all a sophisticated Sarah Brightman Tribute routine? BIG finish, and I am sure they will do very well. Also, I love her hair and make-up, too. That whole look would be great on me. Apparently they have a deduction, goodness knows what for!

Italy's Frederica Faiella and Massimo Scali are next. I once went out with a lovely boy named Massimo, which means I like them already. And they're both rather pretty. Especially him. In fact, if we take Massimo and Stephane and Johnny ... sorry, back to the skating. This time it's a Message routine, where they are dramatically exploring the immigrant experience. And I am leaving all the dramatically exploring jokes re Massimo for you to do on your own, so I can concentrate on their clothes. They're gorgeous. A bit 1920s, in subdued colours that look great and old-world at the same time. Oh, and the music is a bit anguished now and he's doing some emoting with his hands, so yes, it is hard to leave your home country. Unless you go to one with really cheap seafood (my tip!) They both have great balletic lines to their work and bodies, which makes it dancier than most ice dance, but she has this manic grin on her face half the time that is really disconcerting. Especially because he still looks anguished. I will comfort you, young Massimo, just look at me with your great soulful eyes ...

And now 20 minutes of Eddie McGuire and Wayne Gretzky. Wayne, you're clearly lovely, but I don't care. Eddie has just called him the Donald Bradman of ice hockey. Sigh.

However, keeping the theme, Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are next. And they're beautiful. I mean it. I can't mock anything about this. It's like watching Darcey Bussell. Her legs are three shades darker than the rest of her body, that's it for flaws. Everything else is so splendidly graceful and wonderfully executed. AND THAT LIFT! The ending was just the slightest bit hesitant, and it was CHARMING. I am completely won over by them. I know thanks to Canadians on the flist that they won and could not be more pleased.

More Americans, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto. I will share with you at this point a very important rule handed down to me by an old Russian ballet teacher. 'Never dance to anything that sounds like church music!' she said. 'People do not want dancing in church! Unless they are crazy Americans.' These two crazy Americans are very lovely to look at, but they should have heeded the rule. Church music makes you look all earnest and impassioned, which 99% of the time translates as constipated. Ironically, she's showing the most flesh so far (costumes have been very tasteful), though he's dressed as an angel with fluffy wings to make up for it, bless. And now the other problem with church music: it has only two tempos. One is the Adore Adore, Holy Holy slow bit, the other is the You're Damned! You're Damned! Repent! Repent! dramatic bit. Neither of these lend themselves well to anything more than massed choral exercises or sitting in pews feeling vaguely uncomfortable about one's atheism. The choreographer has taken refuge in the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch and has them enacting The Tortured Soul Fleeing Damnation. It's impressive, but not the light entertainment I was hoping for tonight. And that spiral sequence was clearly an allegory for descending through Dante's circles. As a metaphor, there's a lot here. As an ice dance, possibly not enough.

Finally, after another hideous spot from an Australian 'comedian', Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin. These two have been in the news quite a bit over the kerfuffle surrounding their supposed 'Aboriginal' dance routine. Suffice to say that it was about as related to indigenous Australians as I am to the average Greenlander. However, to focus on the madness that was that routine is to downplay the sheer derangement of this one. Let's start with their costumes. A cross between standard post-apocalyptic and My Pitbull Ate My Fashion School Homework, Oksana's outfit seems to want to hint at a Janet Jackson-style wardrobe malfunction with the Marianne-esque bare breast, spangles artfully suggesting a nipple. Maxims manages to out-crazy this with an actual woman's head embroidered on his chest. 'Here, Oksana!' it says. 'Here is where you should rest your weary brow in those complicated spinny bits!' Church music, again. Will they never learn? Theirs is more Hammer Horror than Handel, though, and the routine vacillates between escaping zombies and Interpretive Dance Night at the local Goth club. The sequin traceries simulate veins on their limbs, so zombies win overall. And now we're running! And now flailing! And slapping each other! (Did he make you wear that, honey? slap him hard!) now some tender gazing, now some struggle, now some holding her up by her belt (Is this an homage to Sylvester Stallone films?) She's very good at doing the splits, and has just done them again, but I preferred the Phantom American crazy. And he has another head on the back of his outfit! No wonder she's slapping him ...

I find it hard to believe that this couple took the bronze, and feel very badly on behalf of the French. Fingers crossed Isabelle and Olivier are hanging out with Massimo and Stephane this evening, gently mocking the fashion choices of practically everyone. They will beckon Johnny Weir and Tanith Belbin over and tell the former he is charming and teach the latter how to refuse advances from slimy gits in at least four languages.
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Jamfranalan on February 23rd, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
Oh I love these write-ups &hearts They're utterly hilarious. Also makes me very sad that I still can't find recorded coverage on the tinterwebs :(
Glitter Me Timbersciel_vert on February 23rd, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
Fingers crossed Isabelle and Olivier are hanging out with Massimo and Stephane this evening, gently mocking the fashion choices of practically everyone. They will beckon Johnny Weir and Tanith Belbin over and tell the former he is charming and teach the latter how to refuse advances from slimy gits in at least four languages.

I like this idea! Although, according to his twitter, Johnny apparently had a date last night with his bubble bath and Lady GaGa. Oh I ♥ him. :)

I did enjoy the French couple's routine though. And I actually liked Davis and White's routine a lot, it was more enjoyable to watch than the Canadian's I thought (their music choice bored me and it seemed slow and automated, like they weren't as into it, but no doubt they skated well and deserved their medal, I just didn't enjoy watching them as much). The Russian pair... JFC what were they thinking this whole time? Their original dance made me want to puke, and this was just awful. I'm really surprised they won the bronze. I mean, I didn't like Belbin and Agosto's much either, but I would have rather had them win the bronze than the Russians.
oldenuf2nboldenuf2nb on February 23rd, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
oh, you missed the other Russian couple, with their circus style Firebird costumes, complete with a synthicized, badly cut version of the original Stravinsky. Of course, there's been enough of Firebird, already, but no doubt one of the ladies will skate to it!
oops: Smileoddishly on February 23rd, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
Absolutely and completely off topic: I'm definitely staying in Australia until April 20th! You are an absolute darling for offering to fly down to Melbourne earlier, but I'll be there for sure when you are, so :DDDD
sirra snowman: pencilssirra_scribbles on February 23rd, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)
If your commentary had been live, I probably wouldn't have fallen asleep at the end...

I thought the French ice dancers performed better than the Russian pair you mentioned. I'm of the crowd that just can't get past the costumes (though having seen the original ones, these were somewhat improved) but mostly independent of the awkward garb, the whole routine just seemed messy. They should have consulted Johnny for how to win over everyone. ;)
shadowclubshadowclub on February 23rd, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
Haha, I don't have TV at the moment thus, can't watch the olympics! Reading this was hilarious:)

old men wore to New Romantic gigs in the 80s in a bid to pick up teenaged girls. I sort of need a visual of this!
brinianbrinian on February 23rd, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
*snorts* Love your write up.

I do wish dancers would stop wearing white outfits. They look absolutely terrible on TV and in person - you can't really tell where the ice starts and the skater ends. I thought the Canadians' music was boring although their skate was lovely. Davis and White had a more dynamic skate but the points difference wasn't easily overcome and with the repeated spots where they had the maximum number of steps without turns/edge changes, it was just blindingly obvious that they didn't have the same technical level as Virtue/Moir. Belbin/Augosto *should* have overcome the Russians with better flow, edge quality and musicality, but as Weir said in an interview earlier this week, it's not politically advantageous to have two skaters/teams from the same country on the podium and so they basically got screwed (IMSNHO :-) Their program (like the Russians) just didn't have as much content as the first two teams. It's too bad - they had good skates, just not great and you needed great to win this year. The Russians had so-so skates and should have been marked accordingly.

I was just so extremely pleased to see that all the top couples skated at the top of their game so it really did come down to the judging. It's really nice to see the North American dance programs are finally paying off after the last 20 years of the work skaters, coaches, officials, supporters, etc. have put into them. When I was in the scene it was a really rough road - we had Russian coaches over every summer grinding on us. Not pretty, but we were much better dancers for it!
prone to mischieftreacle_tartlet on February 23rd, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
I tried watching it, but Nine's coverage is so woeful, and I feel the overwhelming urge to throw things at the telly whenever Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy appear.
Oksana and Maxim really must find a costume designer without a terminal crack habit. What on earth can they have been thinking?
Frantic emoting aside, I find myself strangely enamoured of Charlie White's floppy blonde curls.
Now, back to Massimo, Stephan, and Johnny...
Jaeenchanted_jae on February 24th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
Seriously. Why are you not in Vancouver, doing live updates?
&helena;uminohikari on February 24th, 2010 02:33 am (UTC)
Aha, I watched a bit of ice dancing, but gave up after a while. :( I like jumps :( :(
Wenchiladawenchilada on February 24th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
I'll see your Channel 9 and raise you a CCTV5. I am so sick of curling and constant repeats of China's gold medal winning moments (the ENTIRE events!), that I would almost kill for some Eddie McGuire! Clearly, there is nothing else happening in these games that is even worth watching if China has gold.
grey_hunter on February 24th, 2010 08:38 am (UTC)
...wait, you mean ice dance and figure skating aren't the same thing???
silent hallucinationalex_s9 on February 24th, 2010 11:00 am (UTC)
This routine was obviously choreographed by Jerry Bruckheimer

YOU.ARE.EVIL.

In fact, if we take Massimo and Stephane and Johnny ...

Oh, do go on, it is very interesting what you're trying not ot say.

The choreographer has taken refuge in the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch and has them enacting The Tortured Soul Fleeing Damnation.

I'm almost too afraid to continue reading. Also, from now on I won't be watching ice skating, you'll be in charge of referring them to me. Next chempionships are in March, right?

(Is this an homage to Sylvester Stallone films?)

Oh God, I knew I should have been worried.