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INSYNCH CREATIVE LICENSE


CHOREOGRAPHERS’ APPROACH REMAINS THE SAME WITH A TEAM by LESLIE GRAHAM


Miami University coach Carla DeGirolamo


doesn’t hesitate to tap into the sport’s top pro- gram architects when it comes to enhancing the team’s chemistry and look on the ice. Tis past season, the RedHawks earned the


Professional Skaters Association’s Edi Award for Best Performance at the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Plymouth, Mich. Tey won the award for their free skate to music of the 1920s, which was choreographed by Sarah Kawahara. Kawahara won an Emmy Award for choreographing the opening and closing ceremo- nies at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. “As a synchro coach, it is easy to get bogged


down in the rules, regulations, communications and clarifications, especially when you have a technical mind,” DeGirolamo said. “Getting the opportunity to work with other professionals has really broadened my perspective and knowledge and has given me a well-rounded view of skating, choreography, performance and how all of those fit together to create championship programs and athletes.” DeGirolamo’s predecessor at Miami, Vicki


Korn, was also eager to draw on the talents of nationally and internationally renowned chore- ographers. In 2006, she invited Scott Brown to help her teams. Brown has worked with athletes from 20 different countries, including Michelle Kwan and 2013 U.S. silver medalist Gracie Gold. He has collaborated with the Miami University coaching staff for seven years to help bring to life the character of their programs. When asked how creating the choreography


for a synchronized skating team differs from cho- reographing for a singles program, he said there’s really no difference. “I approach them just as I would a singles


athlete,” Brown said. “After all, you are trying to create unison. I take 16 athletes and try to make them look like one. You still have an introduction to set the character and concept of the program. Tis movement must then thread through the program. Te design of the program and transi- tion between that links all the elements together is also important, and then all must relate to the judges and audience.” For the RedHawks’ “Blue Suede Shoes”


short program, choreographed by DeGirolamo and Brown, Miami University won the 2012 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships Best Performance Award. Bringing in skating professionals with differ- ent specialties has provided a unique and invalu- able experience for both the athletes and coach- ing staff at Miami, DeGirolamo said. Along with Kawahara and Brown, Miami’s staff has worked with the artistic talents of Sandy Lamb, Judy Blumberg and Kelley Morris-Adair. Another familiar face from the 2013 U.S. Championships has found himself heavily in- volved with synchronized skating. Justin Dillon, who designed U.S. junior champion Vincent Zhou’s free skate to Casablanca, has worked with the Sierra Storm intermediate team the past two seasons. Coach Ali Kay Zimmer approached Dil- lon about helping the team, and he didn’t hesitate to take on the challenge. “Te goal of these programs, regardless of


ED COLLIER/U.S. FIGURE SKATING Justin Dillon with Vincent Zhou and coach Tammy Gambill


Scott Brown with Gracie Gold and coach Oleg Ouriashev


discipline, is to convey a story, message or mood, while executing difficult skating maneuvers and achieving aesthetically pleasing lines, as the char- acter or story is being told,” Dillon said. “Te excitement of doing this with multiple skaters on the ice, as opposed to just one athlete, was thrill- ing.


“You want to show difficult, quality skating,


while performing an engaging program that the officials and audience will enjoy,” Dillon added. “A team doesn’t want to just showcase one skater who can execute a couple of difficult turns. You must think about how you can best shine as an entire team.” Last year, Sierra Storm skated to music from


Beetlejuice. While the coaches selected the music, Dillon made up a special off-ice routine to work on facial expression and character. Te synchronized skating community, De-


Miami University performs its award-winning “Blue Suede Shoes” program that Scott Brown helped design.


Girolamo said, has benefitted greatly from having many of the sport’s top choreographers expand- ing their reach. “We are so thankful to each and every pro- fessional who has shared their time and talents with our athletes and look forward to more won- derful collaboration in years to come,” she said.


SKATING 33


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