Wednesday, June 30

Dreams on Ice Thoughts

Daisuke Takahashi - Amelie Movie Score

Obviously, this was the big program from the exhibition and I have received several Formspring questions asking me to share my thoughts. So what do I think? I definitely like it, and he was able to relax much more in this performance and skate with a lightness rather than the tension he usually holds throughout his arms. We did see a lot of Stephane Lambiel-esque movements, especially throughout his head (some headless-looking turning, etc.) and shoulders. The question I have is whether Stephane also gave Daisuke a short program that is very similar to what Lambiel would have skated, or if he rather built a program around Takahashi's own style. He is the current World Champion, and his style has definitely worked and been appreciated to the point that I hope he doesn't drift away from that. Final verdict? Very nice, yes; masterpiece, eh.. not really. However, I think this shows that Lambiel definitely knows what he is doing and is going to be quite successful as a choreographer.

I'll search around Youtube for other performances later. It seems like many of the original clips have been taken down due to copyright issues.


Natalie said...

It was a nice program and showed a different side of Daisuke than we typically see. I am a fan of his style in general so I hope that the competitive programs don't lose too much of the edge that I have come to expect from a Takahashi program. Then again, it would be nice to see him incorporate some of this tenderness in more of his skating as well. Not perfect, but could be moving in a good direction.

Anonymous said...

Tony, what do you think about the negative rxn that some Japanese fans of Dasukei have regarding this program? Specifically that he skates too much like Stephane. Some of their comments are quite unfair and border on demeaning Stephane both as a skater and as a new choreographer.

Do you think it's Japanese nationalism at work or just visceral rxn of seeing an unexpected side of Daisuke?

I think Daisuke's dramatic style was getting a bit predictable, especially when you know how talented he can be doing programs that are softer/ more subtly emotional like this one.

I think fans need to relax and let Daisuke find his own interpretation, I'm sure he'll make it his own. It does him no good to hear such criticisms from his uber-fans.

Anonymous said...

As a non-Japanese, I think Daisuke deserves better than being a second Lambiel. He's too talented for that/ has already surpassed that phase (of trying to be like someone else) long ago.

I also read, not all Stephane's ubers are happy with that exhibition.

I agree with Tony reg the ex not being a masterpiece at this point. But to me,
it's also because of the overused music. Didn't Kris Berntsson skate to it 2 seasons in a row not so long ago?

Anonymous said...

Daisuke performed Amelie 4 times in DOI and this is his second one. According to someone who watched 4th one live commented that was more like 70% Daisuke-ish. We should know they made it together after SP was up with a few days. So, maybe Dai practiced this EX pro. several times. Don't worry. This one is just EX not his SP.
In additional information of his this season's SP, Dat will present two SPs that one is by Stephane and other one is by Shae-Lynn Bourne. (This news source is from

Anonymous said...

Some of their comments are quite unfair and border on demeaning Stephane both as a skater and as a new choreographer.

Do you think it's Japanese nationalism at work or just visceral rxn of seeing an unexpected side of Daisuke?
I read pretty much all the uber-fans comments written in Japanese and I didn't get that impression.
I mean, they weren't that bad. The program is still young so naturally it appeared more "Lambiel" than Takahashi and some fans are a bit confused or don't know what to think. As the season progresses, so will the program. Actually, reports posted by fans who saw the performance on the later day of Dreams on Ice (the one posted in this blog is the second performance of the 1st day, I believe) say that the program has already started to look more Takahashi's.

By the way, 'softer/more subtly emotional' side of Takahashi is not a totally new concept, either. You can definitely see that in 'Noctune' and 'Luv Letter' as well.
But, by far, 'Amelie' is the most artistic one. When I saw it for the fist time, it left me speechless. It has a beautiful melody, had a story, was beautifully choreographed and the quality of the skate! In short, it was nothing less than what I had expected from these two talented skaters/choreographer.

Having said that, I have to confess that I personally would still love to see more of 'dai'namic side of Takahashi in it, particularly in the step sequence.
It will be nice if it was even more explosive (and perhaps longer?) with more passion, more possessed, more insane, with more head up than looking down on the ice.

Anonymous said...

Tony, this is Mao's new EX from Youtube that was re-upload by someone. Let's check it out before it will be gone.
This is kind of old Mao with more maturity and choreographed by Tatiana Tarasova. I love this.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the choreographing of this exhibition unplanned initially? But Daisuke was so quick to learn the SP choreography that they had a few days free and came up with the exhibition number. I'm hoping that's why it's a bit more Lambiel-esque, and that the SP will be more tailored to Daisuke.

Anyway, it's still a great start to Stéphane's choreography career.

mm said...

Daisuke has a massive following in Japan, as you expect, and therefore the reactions to this particular programme from his fans vary A LOT. Actually, not only this but ANY programme he skated last few years received pretty mixed reactions. His 07/08 exhibition number did, some did not like the last season's exhibition number until the end, some even doubted whether La Strada was the RIGHT programme for him or not, etc, etc.
OK, this time, those who doubt had to mention Stephane and/or his signature style, as that was how this programme was presented. That's all, I think.

To me, personally, I like it A LOT. There are lots in there that showcase Daisuke's qualities - especially his beautiful pure skating skills. There are lots which are new to him, and that's exciting. I hope he'll carry on skating this programme. I'm dying to see how it'll develop. (And I won't be offended if anyone categorises me as one of his 'uber-fans', and I am almost THANKFUL to Stephane for what he's done!)

And AH! THAT 3 FLIP!!!! Dream-like, don't you think? QUALITY.

Anonymous said...

Anon #4, I'm Japanese-American who has spent considerable time in Japan so I do have some basis for my opinion about Japanese being particularly nationalistic at times especially when it comes to sports.

Some comments on Daisuke's and Mao's fan forums are rude towards Stephane. Things like "he's not a choreographer yet", "unable to express someon's individuality", "too feminine", slamming Stephane's NMQP costume, or how Stephane can only skate to classical music and can never skate programs like Bachelorette or Hip Hop Swan Lake. I thought Daisuke and Stephane weren't even rivals when they were competing together, so why do some fans start the attacks now? IDK.

mm said...

Not sure why criticism towards Stephane needs to be understood as a 'nationalistic' gesture by Japanese fans, as majority of Daisuke's choreographers have not been Japanese for sometime - to be precise, since 01/02 season when he was still a junior skater? Since his senior début in 2003, only the 07/08 exhibition number, the last season's SP and EX were choreographed by Japanese; the 2nd one was very well received (though it was very much doubted by his die-hard fans at the beginning, because it was not done by a well-known choreographer), and as for 1st and the last, please see my previous comment.)

As a Japanese who has lived abroad nearly 15 years, I am acutely aware of Japanese' tendency to be 'nationalistic' (though 'patriotic' would be my chosen word), but also I think any country is pretty much the same when it comes to the international sporting events, don't you think?

Also if you read a number of Japanese blog entries, tweets and comments in Japanese BBS, you'd be glad to know that most of the fans were pretty excited about this new beautiful programme. Do not be too upset by a few negative comments; my understanding is that they are minority ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm not Japanese, but I think all those questions about his skills as a choreographer are perfectly valid. If say, I saw Stephane skating this program and then someone told me it was choreographed specifically for Daisuke, I wouldn't believe them. I think the fact that I see so little of him is putting me off a little. It's not that it's the choreography itself even, but I feel like there's something raw and organic about his skating that isn't here.

I do like how Stephane is pushing Dai to really tell a story though.

Anonymous said...

TO Anon#7,

Yeah, I read those comments. Some of them are rude, as you said. But, at least, I don't recall those comments being connected the choreographer's being non-Japanese and, let me mention that there were many nice ones posted as well (such as "thank you Stephan for teaching Dai spins! They look better now", "Dai's posture improved. Thank you, Stephane!", etc). Please go to SL's official site, too. You will see Japanese fans showering SL with their congratulatory remarks.

To "mm",

Wow, your English is so good! (I am a bit embarrassed to write in my poor Eng...)

" And AH! THAT 3 FLIP!!!! Dream-like, don't you think? QUALITY."

---Agreed. I was like "do this in SP!!!" Indeed, there are so many nice movements in this new program but for me, the best one is at the opening where Takahashi does this hand mime.
Look at the expression on his face! AH, how does he do that! I was pretty much sold at that point.


highaims said...

Hey, all, RELAX!
This is just a SHOW piece, not competition material, probably put together by the two for FUN in a few short hours simply because they enjoyed the experimental/creating process together so much and just wanted to try out this particular style.

It's much TOO early to regard this piece as THE SHOW CASE of their collaboration.
I, for one, feel honored to see ANYTHING these two talented skaters have to show.

Anonymous said...

I know, I know, I know..

I can hardly contain my excitement, though, knowing that this new 2010-11 season could very well be his last season as a competitive skater.

So, as a long-time Takahashi fan, I am hoping for this season to be the most memorable season for him and for all who loved his skating.

Choreographers, use up all your creativity and give him your best program of the season. Please!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.
Both Daisuke's fans and Lambiel's fans are making a battle about who will take the awards to be given by this Amelie.

This is the most exciting view to see when two genius collaborate each other.
I was impressed a lot when I found both Takahashi and Lambiel became much more beautiful after their collaboration than before as regards their appearances and skating.
It's like they are absorving what they dont have and they are craving for from their counterpart.

I love this program a lot and appreciate Stephane to give Daisuke his new phase as an artist. Cant wait to see their SP.

Anonymous said...

"I was impressed a lot when I found both Takahashi and Lambiel became much more beautiful after their collaboration than before as regards their appearances and skating."


I like the program too, though.

krazykat said...

Did anybody else think that some of the choreography got left out in the middle there when Daisuke was sort of gliding around?

At any rate - it was disconcerting to watch this at first because it was so.... Stephane! But watching it a few more times, I can appreciate how lovely this program is, very expressive of the music. I can actually see it working for quite a few skaters. Ultimately it would be nice to see Stephane skate this himself. But kudos to Daisuke - it seems like he is enjoying the opportunity to express himself this way and I bet the program will only get better the more he performs it.

And what planet is somebody on if he or she thinks Stephane is a one trick pony? He is so obviously well versed in many types of dance - the lyrical as evidenced here, the jazzy (watch the Hullabaloo moves from his Ray Charles number in the same show), the balletic, the tango, flamenco - all that is going to put him in good stead as a choreographer. Yeah, the challenge will be to fit his ideas to the individual skater but I'm guessing if a skater wants to work with him, he or she is hoping that some of his magic will rub off on him/her.

Anonymous said...

Well I saw the final performance at DOI and I must tell you it was so much deeper than what you see on this video. I think they succeeded in creating an artistic theater on ice. It was haunting.

I'm actually dreaming of the day skating shows would be up there with ballet and contemporary dance in terms of artistic merit. I believe Stephane and Daisuke have the potential to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony & everyone,

When I saw this program first, I thought Dai had long wanted to create something like this - probably when he co-choreographed LuvLetter with Kenji Miyamoto last season.

He always pushes something new and inevitably needed Stephane to realize what he had pictured in his mind.

However, although it can't be helped at the moment considering too big a name of Stephane, I think Dai needs some more maturation in this direction before people call it a "Dai's performance," not a "Stephane's work."

Also, Stephane has just started his career as a choreographer and I think he will be regarded as a true choreographer when the audience automatically concentrate on the skater's performance, not Stephane skating through the skater's body.
(though I'm not sure if Steph wants to pursue his career as a choreographer.)

I love them both and will enjoy to see how this program will evolve through the season!

Anonymous said...

I think 70% of Japanese fans of Dai love the new EX program “Amelie,” 20 % of them are just confused and the rest 10% say they don’t appreciate it. In an interview after the performance, Dai said “I was nervous because every motion is so slow that I should concentrate on it and I knew Stephane was watching my performance. The audience might have an impression that it has many Stephane-like movements, but I wish to learn his interpretation of music and style which are quite different from mine.” How modest he is! We should praise his spirit of challenge.  In DVD “Takahashi Daisuke” which was released in Feb. 2010, he says “I don’t like just to focus on a strategy of getting scores for winning but I want to CREATE my own programs.” He also says “what I wish is to make it unforgettable piece.” We’ll never forget your wonderful pieces, Dai!
By the way, we Japanese love your guys’ pronunciation “Daisuki” which means “love you!” in Japanese.
*Please correct my poor English, Tony.

Tony said...

Thanks for that! And your English is great!