The importance of individuality in figure skating
By Vladislav Luchianov
The off-season in figure skating is in a full swing. Athletes are preparing themselves and their programs to one of the most important seasons – the Olympic year.
In this regard, I would like to share some thoughts related to the field of skating programs’ individuality.
This subject is important not only in the year of the Olympics, but it is on the eve of the Olympic Games it adds the urgency. This is not surprising, since the brightest performances of the Olympics are remembered for a very long time.
First we need to determine the need for originality in this sport. I think it would be easy, as the sport of figure skating is an extremely individual. In addition, it is an artistic and musical sport. These components are already predisposed to the manifestation of uniqueness.
The very essence of the artistic part of figure skating is to express as much as possible the nature of a theme and its original sense. Those who succeed are like artists that bring their ideas on canvas.
But there are those who prefer imitation. It does not matter whether they imitate the legend of a sport or someone (or something) else. It is important that imitation is akin to painting a reproduction. After all, no one would argue that the original work is in much better position by force of impact on viewers than any reproduction, even after a hundred years.
Talking about originality, I do not mean that everyone should choose completely different themes and music. I mean the full embodiment of the idea of an art work by a certain skater, even if this music had already used many times. Importance lies in the fact that the athlete should express his or her uniqueness through this or that performance, without going outside of the main theme.
As a result of this original and full expression, the public forgets about everything and stands in a state of contemplation. At such moments, the audience doesn’t think about the other things of the world and at the same time appears a feeling that the entire world is focused on a single skating art work. The skater stands in the same feeling.
It is in these moments he expresses what Plato called the “idea” and his contemporaries Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer called as “Thing in itself” and “the Will”, respectively. The reader should not be troubled by conducted parallels here with thoughts of the great philosophers, as they seem to be quite appropriate to the author for a more accurate and clear description of the issue.
But how to achieve the real individuality? For this, one must know as precisely as possible what he wants from skating and what he really can do on the ice. Only in this way an athlete will be able to show the fullness of his/her character and to show something unique on the ice.
That is, the skater must be aware of both his strengths and weaknesses. The theme for a performance that suits to one person may not suit to another. As Schopenhauer wrote in his main work The World as Will and Representation, “In fact, there isn’t another pleasure as to use and feel our own strengths. The greatest suffering is to be aware of the lack of strengths where they have a need. Once we found what our strength is and what our weakness is, we will strive to a full use and development of our outstanding natural inclinations.”
“We will take guard against such attempts, which obviously can not be successful. Only someone who has achieved this, will always remain entirely himself. It accounts will often drop the joy of feeling of his own strength and he will rarely experience the pain of reminders of his own weaknesses, which, perhaps, is the cause of the mental suffering. That’s why a lot easier to carry the consciousness of a bad luck than the consciousness of an ineptitude.”
It is difficult not to agree with this great German philosopher. When a person knows and is confident in his choice, only then he can fully implement what he planned. Not in any way a person should follow the mainstream, trends and similar phenomena. Since any trend nips the uniqueness in the bud.
You must be reflected in the chosen theme, in its music and movements, as they should be reflected in youself. Then the audience will be fascinated by your program and the memories of it will remain a very long time.
Of course, a skater has to adjust all of this to rather complex technical rules of our sport, which, according to many experts, have the negative impact on the artistic value of programs. However, even under such conditions “the Will” of a performer can overcome many of the boundaries, since the true harmony, beauty and inspiration is impossible to determine by the numbers, levels and angles.
The world inside you and you inside the world – that is really important. This is something you should strive for on the ice. Yes, figure skating is a sport, but, nevertheless, it is primarily a sport with an artistic soul.