'DWTS' veteran's take on top ice dancers, Part II

Byalikov offers analysis of two Carmen free dances

Henry Byalikov feels Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir could improve their on-ice connection in their <i>Carmen</i> free dance.
Henry Byalikov feels Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir could improve their on-ice connection in their Carmen free dance. (Getty Images)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(02/15/2013) - This is part two of dancer Henry Byalikov's ( analysis of four of the world's top ice dance teams. (Read part one here.) Here, he gives his thoughts on the free dances of Canadian and reigning world and Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and Italian champions and European bronze medalists Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte.

(Byalikov noted when he uses the word "professional," he is referring to body frame and effortlessness of body lines.)

Free dance: Music from the Carmen Suite by Bizet, arranged by Rodion Shchedrin

With such evocative and inspirational music from the opera Carmen, this presents the choreographer and the figure skaters with a great opportunity to take on different personalities and moods, which can captivate the audience/judges. Tessa and Scott certainly do that in parts, as they create an atmosphere of seduction, playfulness, aggression and, finally, domination.

The piece allows Tessa's expressive ability to be highlighted. As well as expression, Tessa's back, hip and quadriceps flexibility are emphasized in her supported pirouette en attitude, where her skate almost connects to her head. Not to take away from Scott -- his posture, extensions and partnering were great in offering an added aesthetic element, providing Tessa with the necessary framework she needed to portray her character within this routine.

It is well known in the partnered dance industry that when the woman looks beautiful and seamless in her supported movements, the man is doing a great job. This is most certainly the case in this performance.

Points of improvement, from my dancer's perspective, would be choreographic choices/connection, leg line and lift choice.

Choreographically smart choices were made to emphasize accents and highlights in the music. As a result, the story of the dance, in the beginning and toward the end, benefits. Nevertheless, for me, Tessa and Scott did not connect the whole way through this particular routine.

The first section of the piece is brilliant, accenting the intricacies of the music with great choices of choreography, and, as a result, the story is clear and the couple is connecting emotionally to one another in an exciting way. As the routine continues, the excitement dulls down somewhat, and, for me, the story is lost. Notwithstanding, the unison exhibited by the couple throughout the performance is breathtaking.

I believe different choices in the choreography of the performance would help the routine build and peak effectively, and thus enhance authentically the connection of the skaters throughout. It is evident toward the end of the routine that the choreography starts flowing more logically with the atmosphere of the piece, and the relationship between Tessa and Scott becomes more animated.

In conclusion, this couple's partnering ability, posture, extensions, artistic expression and technical prowess are to be applauded. However, within the given choreographic framework, they, at times, missed out on the genuine connection needed to be exhibited by a couple with such high technical ability.

Free dance: Music from the Carmen Suite by Bizet, arranged by Rodion Shchedrin

This was a very competitive performance. The couple's energy, straight off the mark, was captivating and sharp. Unison, as one would expect at this level, is great. The most striking quality of this pair is that they really enjoy performing their work and, as a consequence, are a joy to watch.

As they strike their first pose of the routine, you get a sense of a playful and sensual atmosphere. Anna and Luca have an abundance of personality and demonstrate it well. In particular, Anna always delivers her expression delightfully to the audience and to her partner, making her performance ever the more enticing.

I feel Anna has a lot of potential but is unfinished in her lines/extensions and posture. Luca is very strong in his portrayal of his character and in his ability to connect and lead Anna, a very good male energy. His neatness and compactness of movement is remarkable and obviously owes to the hours spent training. However, he could benefit by extending his lines further to achieve a more effortless and professional look, especially through his arms within the pirouette section.

Although this couple's choices of pirouettes are visually appealing, they would still be significantly improved if they connected their free leg to their standing leg either sur le cou de pied, in retire or higher.

With regard to their choices of lifts, although a couple are visually stunning and seamless, overall, I believe better choices should be made so as not to highlight poor leg lines and clunky entries and dismounts.

Irrefutably, this is a very competitive performance from two incredibly skilled figure skaters, and as much as I love the energy and exuberance of this pair, I felt that it would benefit from a more mature artistic approach. As they mature artistically, they will only go from strength to strength and will become a force to be reckoned with.