So the ice dance finals were on Monday, and Domnina and Shabalin, the Russian team I discussed earlier, ended up taking the bronze. I won't go so far as to say that they didn't deserve to, but I really didn't want them to. Watching their original dance, I felt like I was watching minstrelsy; watching their free dance Monday night, I felt like I was watching burlesque.
It started with another costume controversy; their costumes for the free dance included pieces of rope that wrapped around their bodies to serve as handles in order to enable certain lifts. That sounded like cheating to me, but apparently there's no rule against it (I know this because one of the commentators predicted that there probably WOULD be a rule against it next year). And anyway, these things are a matter of opinion, and what might seem like cheating to me might seem innovative--or "progressive" or "pushing the envelope"--to others.
But I found their program in general to be very creepy and not very enjoyable. It included stylized depictions of violence, which would have been disturbing enough on its own, but when the stylized depictions of violence included the use of the ropes it got even weirder and creepier. At one point I asked myself, "What exactly am I watching here? The Winter Olympics or the S&M Follies?"
To be fair, I probably wouldn't have reacted quite as negatively to it as I did if I hadn't still been fuming over their original dance, and I won't deny that their program had some impressive moments. If they were trying to be provocative, they certainly succeeded. The thing that makes figure skating so special, the reason I love it so much, is because it's both a sport and an artform. So I'm forced to ask myself, should art only make you feel good, should it never be disturbing and provocative? And the answer is no, of course not, but if it is so, it should always be to some purpose; an artist should never be provocative for the mere sake of provocation. Now, it's entirely possible that Domnina and Shabalin did have a purpose for their provocation, and I just didn't pick up on it, either because the purpose was too subtle or I was being too obtuse to grasp it. However, I just really got the feeling that, in both the original dance and the free dance, they were relying too much on gimmicks.
But on the brighter side, Canada won gold, the first time a North American team has taken gold in ice dancing, an accomplishment we can and should take pride in. Hooray! Go North America! I was reading yesterday about how Canada conceded yesterday that they weren't going to win the medals race, which I know was a tough pill for them to swallow. But on the other hand, look at what they have achieved so far: going into these games they had never won Olympic gold on home soil, and now they've won six of them. Not only that, but gold comprises half of the medals they've won so far, while only about a third of our medals have been gold. Bravo, Canada! You have nothing to be ashamed of; vous etes formidable!
Equally exciting is the American team of Davis and White taking silver; I thought those two North American teams were lightyears beyond all the other teams, though they were all very good. There was an interesting sort of retrospective piece on Davis and White before they skated on Monday; apparently when he was a little boy, Charlie White was a hockey player as well as a figure skater, and they showed some footage of a TV reporter talking to ten-year-old Charlie after a hockey game (at least, I assume it was afterward, though I suppose it could have been before) and asking him, "Which sport do you really like better, that figure skating stuff or hockey?" It was clear that the reporter didn't think much of "that figure skating stuff", but Charlie said something to the effect of, "Whichever one I'm doing at the moment, that's my favorite." It was adorable.
Anyway, now we can look ahead to the women's free skate tomorrow, and now that I know a little bit more about the competitors and have seen the top tier perform, I am really looking forward to it. But I can't pick a favorite, not this time.