Ice Dancing’s Most Daring Musical Choices in 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

Ice dancing has become my favorite type of figure skating to watch for two reasons. First, I don’t have to watch skaters attempting jumps and falling on their butts as they do in singles and pairs competitions. Second, ice dancing seems to involve more artistic creativity than some of the other disciplines. The skaters go to great effort not only to pick appropriate music but also to create a story. In this year’s Olympic competition, I was struck by three ice dancing couples’ daring choice of music – Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and Sinead and John Kerr.

Before I go any further, I want to take a moment to say how much NBC sucks. I would very much have liked to embed video of each of these ice dance routines on my website, but NBC doesn’t allow it. Thanks, guys! So if you want to see the videos, you’ll have to click on the links that I’ll include below. In addition, unlike the other networks, NBC does not show the title of the music on the screen during the broadcast. It would be nice to know the names of the pieces without having to dig all over NBC’s website to find the info.

Canadian gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated their free program to the Adagio movement from Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler. This symphony has a special place in my heart because I got to play it in high school, in my youth orchestra. I’ve always loved the beautiful Adagio movement, which Mahler wrote as a love poem to his wife. I thought it was daring of Virtue and Moir to choose this piece because the movement is slow and lyrical, and they had to maintain one consistent emotion throughout their entire routine.

American silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White did a wonderful original dance program to three Indian folk dances -“Kajra Re” by Shankar-Ehseen-Loy, “Slislla Ye Chaahat Ka” by Sameer, and “Nusret Badr, Dola Re Dola” by Sameer. Here’s a little background info from NBC’s website about the music:

Davis and White’s original dance depicts an Indian wedding ceremony and is set to a selection of Indian songs, chosen with the input of a traditional Indian dancer. The idea came from one of their coaches, Marina Zoueva, who spotted a scarf in a Hermes cataglog with an Indian-themed design and immediately thought of Davis. In order to maintain the authenticity of the dance, Davis and White took Indian dance lessons. Davis’ costume is crafted out of authentic Indian fabric, chosen by Davis and her mother. When she saw the finished product, Zoueva said to herself, “I am genius!” She was correct. A video of the dance has gone viral on YouTube, with just one version garnering almost 250,000 page views – many from India.

This was my favorite ice dancing routine of all. Their movements were beautiful and intricate.

The tenth place British team, Sinead and John Kerr , made the riskiest music choice of the entire competition, by skating to a remix of hard rock band Linkin Park’s “Crawling”, entitled “Krwling”. While watching some of the other skating competitions, Contrapuntist and I had thought it would be cool if one of the skaters would perform to a heavy metal song. This is the closest any skater has come so far (during an Olympic event, anyway), and I think it was fantastic. The routine perfectly fit the music, and I was blown away when Sinead lifted John. That’s one strong lady!

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5 comments on “Ice Dancing’s Most Daring Musical Choices in 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics
  1. Dear Viola,

    I’ve been a Contrapuntist reader for a little over a month & among many trade publications, blogs, websites that I read on a daily basis, I really enjoy your blog. Especially how your POV mixes both rock & classical perspectives. Very refreshing.

    Your Olympic skate article in particular struck a special chord with me. Your eloquent written words described my thoughts perfectly while witnessing the grace & beauty of the ice skaters. The poise, skill of skate, dance & song all rhythmically woven together to create such an uplifting feeling of positive emotion during the ice dancing competition. I, too, was pleasantly surprised at Britian’s Kerr team & their courage to use such an unconvential song as Linkin Park in order to; in their words, appeal to a younger demographic. And as a passive ice skate viewer, the music during the competition is was what hooked me. Thank you choosing to comment on the music side of the sport and for educating me on the Canadian Gold medal team Moir & Virtue’s musical choice: Adagio movement symphony No5 by Gustav Mahler. It was fascinating to learn your connection to that music while playing it in your youth orchestra.

    Much respect,
    Heather Cashmore, More Talent
    Vancouver BC Canada

    • Thank you for your kind words, Heather. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying our blog, and it means a lot to us that you took the time to let us know. On the subject of ice-skating, we’ve got one more night left. Let’s hope that some of the female figure skaters make some interesting musical choices. So far, I haven’t been that impressed. But we shall see…

  2. Thanks Viola for your reply. Was great to read your “…gold medal for most innovative musical choice” follow -up article too. I tuned in that day just in time to catch Joannie Rochette skate to the music from Samson and Delilah – a fitting choice due to her triumph over tragedy. Her story captured the nation & the world and I was glad I was able to see her performance along with the gold & silver medalists Kim Yu-ma & Mao Asada’s.

    Their classical choices of Gershwin & Rachmaninoff were fabulous to listen to. Perhaps a ‘safe’ traditional choice for the conservative judging panel but the music sure elevated the beauty & grace of their outstanding performances. Even with the music being unfamiliar compositions to me, your expertise & insight Re: classical genre have fostered a new fan in me:)

    Speaking of fans, it was cool to learn from your article that Australian skater Cheltzie Lee’s musical choice was “Feeling Good”, A tribute to Michael Buble by the VSQ (Vitamin String Quartet). It’s great to see the adulation & career growth for Michael over the past decade+ since I had the opportunity to see/particpate in his talent develop during it’s humble beginnings in Vancouver.

    Due to NBC’s rights restrictions (sigh), I couldn’t find Cheltzie’s clip due to “international viewers” redirect link. There were massive amounts of postings to sift through so my search took me on a wild internet discovery ride. Despite not finding Lee’s skate online, I found some other interesting song trivia facts such as the VSQ have also done tribute albums to AC/DC, Alice in Chains, Green Day, Led Zepplin, Tool, and Kraftwerk…very cool.

    Fun to learn too that “Feeling Good” songwriting team Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley also wrote the scores to James Bond’s Goldfinger + Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I became more & more fascinated as I learnt “Feeling Good” was made famous in1965 by jazz/soul legend Nina Simone and was also recorded by many other artists such as George Michael, Adam Lambert, and a controversial version by Muse which allegedly prompted BBC Radio 3 to ban the band from future broadcasts.

    I digress;) All-n-all, the ice skate programs(Men’s & Ladies) were fantastic to watch. For music, artistry, dance, skill, & fashion! Thanks again for your Rock-n-roll-classical flavour of wit & credible prose.

    Heather Cashmore
    Vancouver BC Canada

    • Heather,

      Wow, you did some incredible research! Sorry that you were unable to see Cheltzie’s short program. Here’s a link to the same short program done at another event. It’s not the best quality, but it’s better than nothing.
      Thanks so much for all of the fascinating info that you provided!

  3. Thanks for the link Viola! Made the detective work worthwhile:)

    Thanks also for sparking my intrigue on the subject…even if, after reading back my reply, it may have fallen into the TMI category on your blog;). Nonetheless, this music trivia junkie is glad that I had the chance to, as the saying goes, “learn a new thing everday”…

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