Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who is that skater?

During Spring Show I really enjoyed one of the numbers in the first act. It was a trio of three very high level and talented skaters. I knew who the two boys were, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out who the third one was, the girl. I watched every night, picking my brain, trying to remember where I might have seen a skating student of that size and approximate age doing the moves that this girl did.

Turns out my premise was wrong, which was why I couldn't figure it out. It wasn't a student. It was a Coach.

I only found out when I was cleaning out the detritus from the show and I got a program, and I looked up the name. Yup. Coach.

I have no problem with Coaches doing numbers in ice shows, so long as their numbers are short, silly, shared and are made to feel like an add-on to any existing line-up of acts. It should have the same feel as when the summer camp counselors sang that silly song at the final Summer Campfire. "And now, your coaches!" is what the announcer should read. This is fine by me. But on the whole, I don't expect to see a Coach skate like that, because I already assume that a Coach can skate pretty competently.

But more importantly, Grandma didn't come here to watch Coach skate. She came here to watch Muffy skate. Grandma doesn't care about Coach. Coach? Who's that? Where's Muffy? Right, she got stuck in the dressing room, because Coach decided she wanted to skate in the show.

For a Coach to effectively take a leading role away from a student skater in a show created for the student skaters is pretty arrogant and plenty childish. And the excuse of, "Well, there wasn't a female of equal skill to round out the number for the guys" is bullshit. One, if there's no female of equal skill, that speaks to the Coaching in general, so that makes Coach(es?) look bad. Two, if a Coach can't create a decent show number for two high level guys, that makes Coach look unimaginative. And also bad.

Why was this allowed to happen? Who approved this? Why did no one say, "You know, as a Coach, you effectively abrogate your place as a star. Your stars are your students, they shine for you. If they don't shine, then neither do you." For a Coach to not possess the maturity to step back and allow her Students to take the spotlight is highly questionable. If I were one of her parents, this would make me rethink things.

There's a Christmas Carol that comes on the radio that I absolutely cannot stand. It's Lennon's "Happy Christmas." I hate it because at the end, the children's choir is singing and then some woman's voice rises up over theirs, overpowering them. For years I thought that was their director or something, I thought it incredibly rude for this choir director to overpower her student's singing with her own, especially in a song that was being played nationally.

I learned later in life that wasn't the choir director, that's Yoko Ono. We all know what she did. (And she sounds terrible.)


  1. Hanging out by the stage right entrance, I got the impression that there were several coaches in the show.

    My view was that they are younger, less experienced coaches who are also sort of students themselves. The lines are blurry. Lately I've been seeing Ice Dancer teach lessons while his coach was there, correcting his teaching, making the lines extremely blurry.

    Coaches aren't doing the show for the money since it's not very much money. They're doing it to advertise themselves and for fun. If Mysteria cracked down on them, they might just refuse to do it.

    It's one thing to say that a student could have done the part, and it is another to get the student to show up for the practices. That particular number could not be practiced in a crowded session, and Mysteria does not allocate dedicated ice time to small group numbers, as far as I know.

    One more factor - the kids are assigned to groups before the music is determined. So probably they had two boys assigned to the Batman number and then realized they needed a catwoman several weeks after all the girls had already started working on their own numbers.

  2. AMS, I think the number you are referring to is the coach group number, toned down with plain black practice wear. I forgot if they explicitly announced those were coaches in the spring show, but for Nutcracker such announcement would interrupt the show’s flow. Coaches are not ruled out from high profile roles if there is a vacancy. Two years ago a coach filled in for the Nutcracker prince because no student was available. I do suspect the trio requested to skate together. That number was almost like a "family production", with sister-brother skating, father playing walk-on… not sure if the other boy is coached by the father?

    Personally, I was very impressed by the number and thought "that's how show numbers should be". Not just ticking off high level tricks, but actually carrying out an entertaining performance for the audience. The coach’s choreography (I asked her after the show, she mostly choreographed the number herself) made the show far more enjoyable, not unlike guest skaters at other rinks. Great skating is always appreciated and it builds an exciting climax. I don't see problems with guest skaters giving grandma a vision what Muffy could've become in the future with talent and hard work.

    As skate mom said, we know younger coaches can outperform most students, but is it appropriate or even ethical for a coach to skate a "star" role in a “recital” type skating show?

    First, does the deprive Muffy's chance to spotlight? If she is not yet on the required level or completely bombed the audition, all is fair. Are there qualified students who performed the audition well yet did not get a solo/duet/trio due to space limitations? Correct me if this is not the case, I am speculating that skaters who barely qualify will get a duet or trio for one or two nights, so no one is stuck in the dressing room unless they did not qualify to start with.

    Second, does the coach unjustifiably overpower students in such scenario? That’s a hard question to answer. I think we could afford one group number for coaches for the sake of PR, showcasing the wonderful talents among staff, to awe audience and inspire skaters with supreme skating skills. My dilemma – why is it OK to feature a high level guest skater (local skater to world champ) in the ending solo but not a rink coach in a first act trio?

    It was a great number.

  3. Maybe I would have felt differently if said Coach had made her performance more known. In the program, it just listed her name, not that she was a Coach. That should have been made clear.

    Wait, groups are arranged and solo kids are picked before the music is considered? WTF.

  4. The two boys Coach skated with were her brother/student and another older student that Coach and Coach Dad teach together, so it didn't necessarily take away from another soloist in the show (Coach Dad was also the "butler" in the number). That does not bother me. What DOES bother me is that if we [the coaches] all took the time to promote ourselves through fun and entertaining spring show solos, there would be no one left to run things backstage. There would be even more chaos than there already is, and no family wants that.

    Don't get me started on pro's numbers...

  5. Dear Kristen, the curious mind really wants to know how coaches feel about pros' numbers... Necessary or fill in? Timing and pro selection? Dramatic or subtle? Volunteer or draft?... :D

  6. "Two years ago a coach filled in for the Nutcracker prince because no student was available."

    I'm curious, which one?