David Wilson, choreographer for Jeffrey Buttle, Patrick Chan, Javier Fernández, Yuzuru Hanyu, Kim Yuna, and Joannie Rochette, to name a few, delivered a seminar for the coaches and skaters at East York Skating Club in Toronto last week. As a new coach to EYSC, I had the pleasure of attending this event and witnessing some of the amazing work that David does for skaters, and I have to tell you, he’s as brilliant and genuine in person as his choreography portrays. He doesn’t disappoint.
David started the seminar off talking about how when he first starting doing choreography as a job, he felt like a fraud. This is something I’ve heard from numerous insanely successful people, both from personal friends and famous public figures. Just the other night I watched an interview with mega movie star, Renée Zellweger, who said she used to experience major “imposter syndrome” in the beginning of her career because she wasn’t formally trained in acting and was afraid that she wasn’t qualified to be where she was. I think this is something so key; to remind ourselves that if we are naturally curious or passionate about something creative then we probably have the resources within us, innately, to become successful in that thing, whether we have the stamp that says we’re “qualified” or not. After a while, just as David explained about his own experience, we grow into it and feel more confident with each new achievement.
Because David was not trained traditionally in dance and choreography, he found his own path and way of developing a program that may not necessarily fit the conventional method of program creation. He never goes to work with a skater having done any pre-meditated chorography. He was also quick to note that it isn’t wrong to choreograph beforehand; it’s just not what feels natural and best for him. He builds on an idea in the moment and often doesn’t start with the beginning of the program.
David also worked with some of the skaters’ existing programs and pushed them to present and reach out to the judges’ side and the audience more. The seminar was just brilliant for everyone in attendance. To be in the presence of one of the greatest creative contributors to this sport and to watch him tweak, reframe, and add movement to a skater’s performance piece was just incredible. I left the event in awe and filled with gratitude and inspiration.
Here are a few tidbits to leave you with that I gathered from David during his seminar:
Choreographic movements with a jump look bigger if you sustain the landing.
When movements are too calculated, the skater ends up looking “constipated”! (This made me laugh so much!).
Skaters can and should move off of their centre of balance.
You can create different “shapes” with the same movement.
It’s cool when there are stops within a step sequence.
Watch one of my favourite pieces choreographed by David Wilson. Here's Jeffrey Buttle's 2008 Freeskate program to Ararat:
What are your favourite choreographic works? Share your comments below :)