While most of us can’t even stay still standing with a pair of ice skates on our feet, professional ice skaters manage to perform complex and elegant dance routines on the sea of ice that is the arena for their art form. Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, however, even succeeded in going one step further still and showing the world that it wasn’t enough to glide and dance on the rink to be considered masters of figure skating. It had to be mind-blowing on an artistic level even for a regular dance, and bringing that to the ice rink would be what they regarded as excellence.
Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres were participating in the European Figure Skating Championship, when they displayed the routine that would impress and move millions worldwide, even those that had never been into following figure skating. Just before James and Cipres were about to take their positions on the ice rink, the commentators announced over the sound system that the previous performance had set the bar so high that the next pair would have a difficult time upping the ante. Little did the folks on the mikes know that they would soon have to eat their words as Vanessa and Morgan would put on the best show of their careers, totally unruffled by the pressure surrounding their performance.
One thing you need to know about the wonder-duo from France is that they are not new to the contemporary figure skating world. At the time of the performance, they already had four French championship titles under their belt and had managed to come up to fourth place in their previous runs for the European Figure Skating Championship. Their situation was very similar to the mountain climber who was just a few feet from the summit of the mountain and had then came tumbling down. Perhaps that is what drove the pair to the limits of their craftsmanship in this brilliant performance.
In the great French tradition of romance, Vanessa and Morgan made an unconventional decision when it came to designing their routine. They dropped the usual moves and grooves used by figure skaters including their own history, and decided to add some more unorthodox and personal passionate flavor to their choreography. Their routine was about bringing the romantic zest and sexual tension of the flamenco dance, the interaction and intimacy of the Tango and the emotionally charged elegant symbolism of neo-transitional mime to the context of the figure skating genre. The couple had set out to not just make a record, but rather to create art! And as any figure skating enthusiast would tell you, it ain’t great figure skating if it doesn’t look like it is done with ease on part of the skaters. The complexity of the routine has to be directly proportional to how effortless the couple can make it seem. Like its just another day at the park for them.
The key not-so-secret ingredient that paved the way for Vanessa and Morgan’s success was that they weren’t just showcasing the talent and virtuoso technicalities of the figure skating sport, they were putting on display a more simpler human element that held universal appeal and identification for audience and judges alike- the feeling of being in love and the mutual attraction that two people in love share. They were trying to capture lightning in a jar, as the phrase goes, and manifesting through the art of figure skating, the electric energy of passionate romance.
Most of the great athletic achievements of the world are just so because they combine some universal human theme with the technical prowess of the sport, whether it was Muhammad Ali’s expression of political freedom through boxing or Billie Jean King’s fight for women’s empowerment on the tennis courts. Vanessa and Morgan seem to have hit on the same magic formula for athletic immortality and sure enough, they struck gold! Literally, struck gold as they ended up donning medals for their truly inspired performance- a hard won achievement after years of just nearly approaching the goal and failing each time. They really showed everyone that the best revenge is excellence.
Medal or no medal, one thing this couple definitely succeeded in showing the world was that sport is not just all about mechanistic skill and perfection, but just like in art, rather its the human element of emotion and deep self-expression that produces great sports.
Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres seem to have achieved grand vistas while just in the prime of their careers, and this only seems like a sign of greater things to come. Enjoy their unique take on romance on the ice rink below, and let us know how it moved you!
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