Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Time to Talk War Horse(s)... and No, I'm Not Talking About the Movie

While we breathe through this little calm before the storm of events to come in the next month or so (Canadian Nationals… Euros… U.S. Nationals… 4CCs), I thought I’d take the lead provided by a certain Spielberg film that’s in theaters right now (and probably to score some Oscar nods, as I hear it) and talk a little about something that’s near and dear to the heart of any skating fan… the WAR HORSE. Also known as “music used for figure skating programs over and over and over again.”

Quick, can you think of 10 “war horses?”
Here’s the list I came up with, pretty much off the top of my head (along with a couple examples of recent uses):

Almost too easy, but hey, it’s what came to mind first. Currently being used by, among (surely) others… Brandon Mroz.

West Side Story
Ironically, can’t think of anyone prominent that’s using it this year. But I know a U.S. ice dance team skated it for their FD last season, and of course Akiko Suzuki used it with impressive results back in the 2009-10 season.

Concierto de Aranjuez
I never, never remember how to spell this properly, let alone pronounce it. But this majestic, guitar-fueled composition certainly appears to be in vogue over the past few years—especially in Canada, where Joannie Rochette used it in the 2008-9 season… and both Patrick Chan and the pair of Duhamel/Radford are using it currently.

Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music in general is certainly no stranger to figure skating, but there seems a certain soft spot for this 1986 Broadway smash hit. Elene Gedevanishvili has used it for her FS the past two years; Patrick Chan worked it for two years as well (2009-11). And of course Davis/White had pretty fine results with it during their 2009-10 Olympic season.

Romeo & Juliet (any version)
My gut reaction to naming this was which composition? The Tchaikovsky version, the Prokofiev, the Rota (from the 1968 film), or the 1995 “modern-day” film soundtrack? Almost all of them get equal use (though the ’95 ST is winning increasing favor); Adam Rippon’s SP from last season was an example of employing the Tchaikovsky version, while Yuzuru Hanyu’s current FS is among those using the modern version. But one thing’s for sure: if a piece of literature has been interpreted musically in so many well-known ways… and ALL those ways are embraced by figure skating… it’s gotta be a war horse.

The Mission
It’s a soundtrack from a 1986 film, and like Phantom, it’s been popular on the ice ever since… though when Matt Savoie went to the 2006 Olympics with it, funny how some of the very cuts he used keep turning up in other programs every single year. Last year it became perhaps best known as Miki Ando’s second SP (the one she debuted at the GP Final), and you might hear it again at U.S.Nationals as perennial competitor Wesley Campbell is using it for his FS (complete with a Savoie-esque tunic top, I couldn’t help but notice when I watched Campbell at Sectionals).

"Sing Sing Sing"
The ultimate upbeat, big-band ditty that’s been rocked annually for years, usually in short programs. Four that spring to mind: Jeffrey Buttle (2005-6 season), Rachael Flatt (2009-10), Zhang/Zhang (also 2009-10, though it wasn’t working for them and they changed it by Olympics time), and, currently, Jeremy Abbott.

Also a tough one to spell, although I think I’m getting better at nailing it on the first try! John Curry did a definitive interpretation of this in his pro years, but Evan Lysacek’s use of it in Vancouver 2010 is probably remembered best for the younger fans. Though very different cuts have been chosen, Mao Asada is currently using it in her SP.

Whether it’s the soaring melodic part that Domnina/Shabalin used to their advantage in the 2008-9 season, or the more frenetic part that Ashley Wagner skated so effectively that same year, Spartacus seems to have that something-for-everyone appeal. It’s currently being used by Mirai Nagasu for her free skate.

Turnadot/"Nessum Dorma"
Turnadot is the opera; “Nessum Dorma” is the popular aria from said opera. And one or both of these turn up year after year in the rink. Evora/Ladwig, the U.S. pair, used ND all last season… and coincidental or not, Denney/Coughlin have been using a Jeff Beck version of the same thing all THIS season.

So… which war horses—be they on this list or otherwise— still make you genuinely smile each time you see a skater using them? And which ones are you dying to be put out to pasture? Please leave a comment!


sara.raju said...

one of my faves is the nutcracker, sasha cohen did a great interpretation as well as shen/zhao. i also love rhapsody of a theme on a paganini, ina/zimmerman did a great performance to that back at the 2002 olympics(geez was that really 10 yrs ago?). very popular with pairs and ice dancers, probably bc its very romantic.

Anonymous said...

Nessun, not on with your choices-any suggestions for pieces you would like certain skaters to use?

Kelli Lawrence said...

I do enjoy when "Nutcracker" is used, but since I'm one of those people who has gone to see a production of the ballet annually since I was 3 yrs. old, I tend to bristle a little when I hear it used later in the season (like March)... silly but true.

Rhapsody/Paganini almost made my list too... too bad Ina/Zim's performance was all but forgotten in the wake of the judgeing scandal. Yikes, we ARE coming up on the 10th anniversary of all that...

NESSUN NESSUN NESSUN :-) Thanks for the catch.

Suggestions for certain skaters sounds like a great idea for a future post... I think other bloggers have done that from time to time; I might as well get in the game too!

sara.raju said...

just thought of another one too, swan lake! so popular in ladies singles.

Kelli Lawrence said...

Yes, and this year we've several either doing Swan Lake and/or Black Swan (soundtrack)... Wagner and Samantha Cesario of the U.S., as well as Stephen Carriere (US) and Volosozhar/Trankov (RUS).

Krista said...

Other war horses I am tired of hearing: Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2, Dark Eyes, and Requiem for a Dream. Requiem for a Dream (although a nice piece of music) has been overused to the point that I cringe in embarrassment for whichever skater is currently on the ice when I hear it!

Kelli Lawrence said...

When I do my notes on a program I now list the piece Krista mentioned as "Requiem for a Nightmare"... it's still getting used this season, but I'm hoping to proves to be a trend rather than a war horse. I'll have to do a post about music trends in the future as well

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be fun if the music of War Horse became a... ?:) In time, I mean - I've only heard a snippet of it, but it seems rather ideal for skating. Talking of which - what does make music pieces war horses, while others aren't? I can't recall anyone skating to the music from LOTR for instance - surely there are several pieces that would be ideal? What other music - soundtrack & others - are NOT war horses and why? Popularity of the movie and soundtrack doesn't seem to play into it - see LOTR; I mean, or Harry Potter? or the Bourne movies? It's a rather curious thing, isn't it? And then there are those pieces that nobody has used for a long time - and then suddenly you get two of them in the same year? It's a curious thing, isn't it - I think you could make a quite long "series" of posts on the subject - and if you do, I shall be glad to read them.:)


PS Aranjuez - yes, oddly enough I think that I mostly spell it aright... but I'm never sure that I have.:)

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Rosacea Skin Treatment said...

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This year we have several either doing Swan Lake and Black Swan.Wagner and Samantha Cesario of the U.S., as well as Stephen Carriere and Volosozhar.

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Wouldn't it be fun if the songs of War Equine became a... ?:) Eventually, I mean - I've only observed a little of it, but it seems rather suitable for roller skating. Discussing of which - what does create songs items war horse, while others aren't? I can't remember anyone roller skating to the songs from LOTR for example - absolutely there are several items that would be ideal? What other songs - soundtrack & others