Freezer Burn!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Now that "Figure Queen" Kim Yuna is all set to retire (though you can bet your imaginary gold medal that politicians will be demanding that she reemerge when the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics roll around four effing years from now), I thought I might post a retrospective of my favorite programs...

...because while Kim is breathtaking no matter what she performs in, I always thought she was in her element in black.

"Danse Macabre" - Camille Saint-Saëns.

I've noticed it's the exception rather than the rule for skaters to stop on the ice mid-performance, especially during a short program. I wonder if it's because decelerating takes up too much precious time? Or is it that they can't risk losing momentum leading up to the jumps that have to be executed within, again, a very narrow window? Either way, it seems not to bother Kim, whose performance here hinges on abrupt starts and stops, hairpin turns, angular plummets and swoops that would destabilize a less confident skater. Every limb seems to be fighting to fly in a different direction, but the fluid poise with which she executes it seems to bespeak a firey, supernatural control.

007 theme.

What a minx, not to mention the jauntiest choreography this side of the Cold War. Enough said ;-)

"Adios Nonino" - Astor Piazzolla.

To be quite honest, I liked this one mostly for the costume (the impact of that red lip especially), music (!) and the choreography... it was not one of Yuna's best performances in her own right. But, to paraphrase her longtime choreographer David Wilson, it seems that only she could carry this music.

Or does it? Her signature boneless grace is a basic condition of this tango-inspired work, but what lacks is the emotional edge bespeaking desperation that so often provides the dramatic tension in actual tango. Here Kim was languid to the point of appearing physically feeble, possibly due to her recent injuries. Watching her felt a bit like saying "Adios Yuna", in fact.

Yes, I know, Kim was lovely dancing skating to Scheherezade/Reflections/The Lark Ascending, and every sequence David Wilson has choreographed for her has been nothing short of gorgeous... but those performances were just that, conventionally lovely. In contrast, I personally think it takes a special something—charisma? talent? confidence?—to pull off the edgier pieces she's done... and she hasn't just pulled them off, she owned them.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy myself some black nail polish.

A Deceit of Lapwings

All happy people are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy people are more or less alike.