Tuesday, 27 August 2013

If You're Good To Robin, Robin's Good To You: Robin Cousins' Very Best Choreography For Other Skaters


In Lake Placid, New York, the Union Jack flew high and Robin Cousins was the man standing atop the podium. Much like John Curry, who won the Olympic title four years earlier in Innsbruck, Austria, Cousins was one of many Olympic Gold Medallists in men's figure skating who improved like a fine wine with age. After turning professional, his work as a choreographer and his skating developed to a whole different level. His expression of music, his sense of timing and the seemingly simplistic but oh so complex elements that he included in virtually every program provided a sense of theatre on ice that stood out and continues to stand out to this day as a lesson in GOOD SKATING. His carriage and line, skid spirals, soaring single and double axels, backflips, musicality and beautiful deep edges are only a few examples of the truly special and unique quality that he brought to the ice everytime he performed - or choreographed a program for another skater. Robin's own professional programs - "Falling In Love With You Again", "The Way We Were", "On The Frozen Pond", "Satan's L'il Lamb", "The Music Of The Night", "Satan Takes A Holiday" and so many others - deserve not only a blog article but probably an entire blog of their own but I wanted to take some time and look at the amazing choreography Robin has created for OTHER skaters. In each of these 6.0 memorable performances and moments Robin created for other skaters, you can clearly see those magical qualities that he brought to his own skating reflecting in and bettering the skaters he choreographed these programs for:

CRAIG HEATH AND CAST - COME WHAT MAY


This beautiful piece set to music from Moulin Rouge is choreographed by Robin Cousins and Cindy Stuart and is from the European tour of Holiday On Ice's 'Hollywood' show. Beginning with a stark and simplistic solo from Craig Heath that features a nice double axel and a double salchow, halfway through the piece he is joined by two pairs teams and then by a cast of exquisitely costumed skaters and beautiful photography, costuming, choreography and skating come together to provide for an aesthetically and artistically beautiful ending to the piece.

LUCINDA RUH - MERCY


Choreographed by Robin in April 2000, Lucinda Ruh's program to "Mercy" from "The Prayer Cycle" as performed by Alanis Morissette, is another very ethereal piece that really played to the skater's strengths. Showcasing Lucinda's awe inspiring spins as features as opposed to program elements, this program was performed everywhere from the Rockefeller Center to Harvard University to the outdoor rink in Sun Valley and at the 2000 World Professional Figure Skating Championships. The program earned Lucinda a 3rd place finish in that 2000 event, which was her first trip to the World Professional Championships, ahead of European champion Surya Bonaly and Olympic Gold Medallist Oksana Baiul.

DENISE BIELLMANN - ISTANBUL (NOT CONSTANTINOPLE)

From the pretty to the playful, Robin showed off his innate musicality and sense of timing in this masterpiece he created for Denise Biellmann for the 1997/1998 professional season. Set to Joe "Fingers" Carr's interpretation of Kennedy and Simon's "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", this program was skated by Denise at the 1997 Ladies Professional Championships as well as both the U.S. and World Professional Figure Skating Championships the same year. Highlighting Denise's excellence in jumping, spinning and endurance was always an easy thing to do when developing a piece for her, but bringing out her playful, sexy and very musical side was something that didn't always happen, and this piece by Robin was a true example of another departure for a skater already known for departure after departure.

BRIAN ORSER - DEEPLY DIPPY



It's not often that a skater will choreograph work for their direct competition, but during the 1993/1994 season, Robin Cousins did just that in choreographing a piece to Right Said Fred's "Deeply Dippy" for Brian Orser. With big, showy choreography, triple jumps and a backflip, this program really brought out the best in Brian's style and served him well on that year's Stars On Ice tour, as well as in events like the World Professional Championships, Challenge Of Champions and the U.S. Open that year. Interestingly enough, Robin beat Brian at the World Professional Championships that year, finishing 2nd in a showdown of two programs that he had choreographed himself, with Brian 3rd.

LIZ MANLEY - THINK

After winning the free skate and the silver medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, it really wasn't until 1994 that Liz's professional career took off like it did. Between touring, TV specials and competitions, her early forays into the pro circuit were hit and miss. After a disastrous technical program at the 1990 World Professional Figure Skating Championships in Maryland, Liz rebounded with a fabulous performance to "Think" by Aretha Franklin, choreographed by Robin. This was really one of the first programs that played on Liz's bubbly personality and ability to cater to and really work an audience, and that started something fabulous that she became KNOWN for throughout the rest of her professional career - which continues to this day!

ROSALYNN SUMNERS - THE POWER OF LOVE


This exquisite program choreographed by Robin Cousins for Rosalynn was first skated in 1990 during Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt's 'Skating' tour but was revived for the 1994 USFSA (now U.S. Figure Skating) spring pro-am competition, the Hershey's Kisses Figure Skating Challenge. In one of her more technically difficult performances of her pro career, Rosalynn stole the show with not one - but two - of those double axels and finished 3rd. Again, Robin's choreography and the highlighting of Rosalynn's strengths in this piece to Jennifer Rush's ballad came together to create a memorable program that drew the crowd in and kept them there from start to finish.

Now, when we talk about the best choreographers factors that we always consider are their ability to make their programs relatable to audiences, to keep them current and fresh and to not recycle a style or keep on rehashing the same choreography and music choices again and again. Carmen anyone? Throughout his career as a choreographer, as illustrated through the programs featured here and countless others, Robin has brought out the best in other skaters and created magical and truly entertaining moments on ice where good skating and good music come together for a thrilling show. It's exactly this kind of choreographic skill that I can't wait to see translate into Jeremy Abbott's short program this season. I am a huge Jeremy Abbott fan and the comparisons and likeness between Robin and Jeremy's skating and style are going to make this program a dream I think. Can't wait to see it! Speaking of thrilling shows and great choreography, check out Robin's new project "The Ice" which will tour the United Kingdom from January to May 2014. The website for the show is http://www.robincousinsice.com and it is a series of shows you won't want to miss.

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