Kwanonymous, Episode 1: The Induction
One thing many of you may not know about me is that I am an avid book collector and reader. I devour books... the more fascinating the better. Not to be a book snob, but you won't find any shoddy mass produced bestsellers in the mix. I go for substance, and although the majority of my little personal library consists of new age/spirituality related books on a huge range of subjects, I also have a very healthy appetite for classics and works by authors that I just adore. One of my all time favourites is Margaret Atwood. I think I've read most of her books more than once and to those of you who are familiar with her work, she is a HUGE master of allegory and layers in her writing. She has created not only compelling storylines but unlikely characters that you cheer on. John Keats once said that "a man's life of any worth is a continual allegory - and very few eyes can see the mystery of his life". We all have so many rich layers and the best skating (and art) is rich in layers as well. In creating his new project Kwanonymous (a wordplay on the whistle blower/social justice/vigilante internet group Anonymous), the fabulous Adam Blake has crafted not only a bewitching allegory but a statement about the skating world - it's past, present and future - that is not only beautifully artistic but coyly perceptive in his vision. He's created the kind of art on ice that like a wonderful book like The Handmaid's Tale, The Robber Bride, The Year Of The Flood or The Edible Woman, you just don't want to put it down.
Kwanonymous certainly has a lot of people talking. Twitter is abuzz and here's a sampling of what people are saying about this project:
@swandie27: Just watched Kwanonymous Episode One....bizarre. The trailer made it much creepier w/ the ice cream truck music! ... Not as creepy as the trailer!
@blazingblades: KWANONYMOUS Episode One : The Induction: http://youtu.be/iSxJhwGf0H4 via @youtube It's WILD! #kwanonymous #blazingblades
@emilydesjardins: 1. Never imagined being terrified of MK's face! 2. Is it akin to b-ball saying Michael Jordan 'destroyed the game'? 3. love the choreography
@DougMattis: Interesting, creepy, cool, different...& celebrating a supernova of skating.
As you can see, there are certainly varying reactions! One thing that I was and am dead set on doing with this blog is promoting skating with artistic merit... skating that takes risks, is innovative and tells a frozen story. Since Adam started Kwanonymous, I've heard a lot of general feedback/buzz saying it's 'creepy' or that people don't understand it. Not to be critical because I certainly believe everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but I find people who turn down a beautiful steak with mushrooms and lobster in favour of a Big Mac from McDonald's just as concerning. This is steak, this is lobster... it has meat and substance. In ten years of performing as a drag queen, I learned a thing or two. You can get out there and lip sync to Beyonce or do a little "Proud Mary" and people will cheer, but if you go a different road and be big, bold and brave people will remember it. I have dressed in a garbage bag with a shopping cart full of recyclables and performed "Girl From The Gutter", as a giant banana (handing out bananas) to a cover of "Day O" from Beetlejuice, in period costume for "Walking On Broken Glass", as a cat burglar with a bag of electronics to "Hot Stuff", taken a supersoaker full of coffee cream in the face in "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and performed to Wing's cover of "Single Ladies" in kabuki face... Taking risks is simply where it's at. To each their own, but there is certainly merit to expanding your palate to try things that might be outside of your comfort zone.
This first episode, entitled 'Induction', is set to Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" and features skaters coming through a vortex or tunnel out into the world and skating, all wearing masks of Michelle Kwan. Michelle Kwan, who was certainly as close to perfect as the skating world may have seen, has served as a benchmark and comparison for all skaters since (certainly in the U.S.). I personally don't find the visual creepy at all, it's actually very grand and stunning; it's like Orwell On Ice. The statement about everyone in skating striving for that same perfection, that same glory that Kwan enjoyed and remaining faceless under the cookie cutter IJS structure is what I'm getting from this piece and there's a certainly a quiet irony that the skaters that are wearing the masks and tasking a risk are the risk takers themselves. What I also really enjoy about Kwanonymous is that it's not just a skating program, it's really a beautifully put together film/skating/performance art hybrid sort of fusion that has this compelling, layered tone to it. You can look at it so many ways, and that's how good art is. You take something new from it every time you watch. Thank you, Kwanonymous, for taking a risk and exposing skating to something it hasn't seen before. I really hope projects like this will open the skating world's mind a little bit about 'big girl performance art'. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see what's next.
If you enjoyed this piece of Kwanonymous, there's more where that came from! The blog at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca is full of interviews, articles, skating history and much more. The blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard is updated regularly with skating news, videos and all of the new content on the blog - "LIKE" to get those updates. You can also follow me on the Twitter at http://twitter.com/SkateGuardBlog... I adore talking about skating and would love to talk about it with you.