• Ethne Tierney

same old song and (different) dance: rhythmic gymnastics, figure skating and ballet artistry edition

Art can be expressed in so many different ways, even to the same music. Different disciplines have a different take on how to express a story, idea or feeling. On top of that, every performer has a different touch to its performance. In an attempt to show the individual qualities and artistry of athletes and explain artistry, and how it's scored, we are reviewing three athletes from three different disciplines using the same music: Son Yeon Jae, Alina Zagitova and Natalia Osipova's performance to Don Quixote, Pas de Deux, Act III by L. Minkus.

It's interesting to compare rhythmic, figure skating and ballet and their properties to the same tune. Besides, we are analysing and reviewing the athlete's artistry style. Let's do it!

Son Yeon Jae

Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships 2014

In September 2014, Son Yeon Jae performed a beautifully wholesome hoop routine in Izmir (Turkey) to the Don Quixote music.

Son is a really unique and special gymnast and this can be seen in this routine. Training in the Viner academy, the traces of the Russian school can be seen all the way throughout the exercise. The changes in the character in the music are reflected in a lovely and harmonious way with her movements. Moreover, the pace in her routine changes with logic and cohesion, allowing us to follow the "storyline" of her performance.

The Korean star has a very solid base in ballet, and that has been clear in all her competitions.

In this world championship, halfway through the Olympic cycle, we see how much she matured and advanced as a gymnast. Her routine was clean and it had a beautiful balance between difficulty and artistry. She had a presence on the mat, and you can even see her gaining confidence as she gets closer to the end.

Some people argue that Ganna Ritzatinova should have gotten the bronze medal instead of her but the energy and perfection of her routine definitely belonged on the podium.

Alina Zagitova

Winter Olympic Games 2018 in PyeongChang

Alina Zagitova, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, delighted the crowd and judges with this routine to win the Women's Figure Skating Free Skate gold at the Winter Olympic Games 2018 in PyeongChang (South Korea).

The gold medal she got for this programme was very well deserved, but on social media, there was an intense debate over the reasons for her score. Some people think that the only reason for her winning was her backloading overuse, putting into question her actual skills and talents.


What is backloading?

Capitalising on a scoring system that awards a 10% bonus to difficult moves performed toward the end, based on the idea that it's easier to land jumps early in a program when the skater is fresh. It's a strategy known in figure skating asbackloading” a programme.


Alina proves to be an artist and a dancer with this short programme. The grand pas de deux in the Don Quixote ballet that inspired the programme, the dynamic and impressive leaps and jumps are all at the very end when the music reaches the climax. She stuck true to the original ballet version. On the other hand, the music escalates in intensity at the end, and according to the figure skating code of points, the element has to match the music and reflects the concept/character of the programme.

The best thing about this skater is how she manages to stay soft and incredibly graceful, yet powerful and energetic with her jumps. By the end of the element, she should have been tired and less focused, and she manages to not only keep going with perfect execution but to do the most powerful and challenging skills at the end!

Zagitova has a grace she is known for and a remarkable softness that makes a beautiful contrast with the power and energy that figure skating demands.

Natalia Osipova

Don Quixote, Pas de Deux, Act III with Ivan Vasiliev

There is no doubt that a pas de Deux with two people is even harder to compare to our other athletes. Judging this performance only in Natalia's work, we will see that she is sharp, light and passionate throughout the whole PDD. She always exceeds herself in roles for strong, feisty, independent and free-spirited women like Kitri's.

Technically, she has a strength and power that seem almost superhuman. Her ballon is glorious, but she does not appear light as thistle, floating through the air as we might expect of a ballerina in the Romantic tradition; instead, she hurtles through it like a bolt of lightning thrown by Zeus himself.


Natalia proves that ballet can be dynamic and powerful. That's probably the reason why she is so popular and iconic, she changed the general perception of what ballet should be.


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