Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hip to the Hop, Part 1

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’m one of those fans of skating who was also an active participant at a (much) younger time in my life. It's worth mentioning in this week’s posts because it plays into what I want to talk about: skating music, then and now.

“Skating music” in general will have to be a recurring theme here, as it’s too big a part of the whole skating experience to ignore. But when I talk about then and now, I should probably clarify the “then”—in this case—is 25-30 years back. When so many of the top skaters started disco-fying their programs.

If you’ve ever watched anything from the early 80s you’ll know what I’m talking about. The era of disco may faded from the dance floors by that time, but it lived on for quite a while in the rink. Hmm… maybe it was all that ice, keeping the music “fresh” longer?

Anyway, the classical mainstays of this sport were supplanted for a time with thumping bass lines and a pulsating beat. More often than not, it was the classics themselves (or at least their basic melodies) that were disco-fied—Disco Beethoven… Disco Stravinsky (the pumped-up version of Firebird was popular at my rink, and everyone else’s it seemed)… even Disco Chopin, my personal favorite. (How can any tempo ruin Impromptu #4 in C Sharp Minor, after all?)

But when I think of popular music trends NOW, I’m intrigued by the fact that skating music choices, by and large, have not yet followed suit. Especially when today’s Clip Of The Day showcases how very successful hip-hop can be on ice:


Do you have a theory as to why this is?

I’ve got a few. And I’ll share them next time.


Anonymous said...

I think it might be because choosing something modern might be too risky. The skaters are afraid that if they will perform well to modern music, and some other skater will skate just as well to classical music, the judges will favour the "classical" skater as the one posessing more artistry and maturity. I think those who have already proven that they are champion material are more likely to risk something unusual.

Secondly, there are many techno and disco remakes of famous classical pieces, but not so much hip-hop or rock remakes. (And I think the skaters are more likely to choose something that has already been tested on judges). Takahashi had his music composed especially for him.

And thirdly, not all skaters would feel comfortable skating to something like hip-hop or rock. In my opinion, it takes real skill to pull something like that and not end up looking cheesy. Daisuke took hip-hop lessons for 3 months in order to be able to skate his SP the way he does. I loved his SP, and I loved Oda's Red Hot Chili Peppers EX, but YuNa, did not feel comfortable skating to "Just a Girl" and IMHO, it showed. She definitely looked much more in her comfort zone skating to "Only Hope" at Worlds.

Kelli Lawrence said...

I hear you on all three counts-- and will probably bring up at least two of them on the next post.

I guess what intrigues me so much about this sort of thing is the ebb and flow, or lack thereof. For a time there, pure classical music almost flirted with being in the minority. But not lately-- that's for sure.

I should have also mentioned that it was a SHORT program that got that edgy modern treatment from Daisuke... as great as it was, I don't think anyone anticipates an all hip-hop free skate around the corner!

Thanks for the comment!

Shimmy said...

I don't think that hip hop has ever had a larger mainstream audience with shows like Dance Crew & So You Think You Can Dance putting it out there each week. Now would be a great time for skaters & choreographers to play with it a bit more because it has peaked in popularity. I think skating choreographers are in the unique position of being able to push hip hop a bit further if they take the risk and do it well.

Kelli Lawrence said...

I really hope they DO take the risk and follow Daisuke's lead rather than just marvel at it. Watching SYTYCD for the past few years has definitely driven home for me-- someone who trained primarily in ballet-- the fact that hip hop is TOUGH to do! But if the USFS team envelope profiles are any indication, shows like SYTYCD are very popular with skaters... maybe some of it will start rubbing off next season.

Shimmy, I wasn't familiar with your blog before, but it looks great. Would you mind if I list it on my blogroll?

(If I don't hear otherwise from you I'll assume it's okay :-))

Shimmy said...

By all means, blogroll us! I used to write for skating pubs back in the days of ASW & Tracings. The love of skating transformed into a love of all things dance related! Shimmy will be covering SYTYCD inside & out starting this week. I hope the fact that so many skaters love the show does rub off a bit on what they bring (or are allowed to bring) to the ice!