Spectators and pros - Najarro and Peizerat comment on TEB┬á
Antonio Najarro and Gwendal Peizerat were both present at the Troph├ęe Eric Bompard in Paris because of their duties, but also as spectators. Antonio had choreographed a few of the presented programs and Gwendal took part in the medal ceremony and in the gala as an ambassador for the Olympic bid. I spotted them in the bleachers two days in a row where they followed the competition with big interest. After the dance medal ceremony, I asked them to share their opinions about the competition in general, as well as to answer some more specific questions about their work. Since they are both involved in this sport, it was interesting to compare their answers and see the similarity in their points of view; including how they liked the same programs.
Antonio Najarro: "We need personalities in the skating world"
In this competition we ended up seeing only two of your programs instead of three. What happened to the short dance you created for Nathalie P├ęchalat and Fabian Bourzat?
They were not sure about the music, they chose it but in the end they changed it. So they arranged the short dance themselves and I will work with them in January to improve it and add to the choreography.
How would you evaluate the other two programs shown here? Were they performed as you expected?
I think they still have to improve and to work a lot on them as these are very difficult programs. For Pernelle and Lloyd (Carron/Jones) it's a really big change in their career. It's very strong music and a very strong program. I made them take a very big step and they have to work a lot on expression, on energy. And they will; they are working very well.
For Brian (Joubert) it's the same thing. It's a change for him, I asked of him to change his movements, his vision of the program. I think he realizes that he has to work on it artistically, so we will continue working on it together this season.
I thought Brian's program looked a bit "empty" to be your choreography...
Yeah. I think that when Brian competes he thinks a lot about the technical side. When we worked together, not in the competition, he changed a lot and tried to execute the movements. But with the pressure and nervousness of the competition he is focused on the technical side. We will need to work on it so that he will feel more comfortable with the choreography.
So there will be more choreography in the finished program?
There is more choreography already.
Was it the first time that you were sitting in the kiss and cry, or standing by the boards during a competition?
Here? No, I did that with Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, and again with St├ęphane Lambiel during the Swiss Nationals. Unfortunately with my dance company I sometimes have no time to attend competitions.
Does it feel special to stand there?
Yeah, I love it. You feel a little bit nervous because you are there with the skaters, but I like it.
You watched the whole competition. What did you think?
I think it was a good competition. But what's most important to me is that the skaters focus more on their personalities. Sometimes, with all the similar technical elements in the programs, you get a feeling that the skaters are all the same. There were some that really have to work on their personalities because we need personalities in the skating world. I think a different, beautiful personality makes the difference between the skaters.
Were there any programs in particular that you liked?
Yes, of course. Amodio had a good program. He moves very well, but I think he needs to open his heart to the audience. But it was a very beautiful program. The free dance of Nathalie and Fabian was very beautiful also. I think the free dance I created for Pernelle and Lloyd is a good program too; it's a program full of energy and meaning. There were some beautiful programs, I loved it.
Gwendal Peizerat: "I like people who manage to entertain the audience"
What do you think about the big change in ice dance this season; the short dance?
Well, that was actually an idea that I shared with the ISU a long time ago: that it would be really good to combine the compulsory and the original dance. I think they did quite a good job with this. I'm just a little concerned about the fact that they only judge bits of the compulsory dance not the full dance with the patterns and the flow in it. That's the only thing I object to. But the concept is good and I'm sure it'll be more interesting for the audience too.
And next they have to give more freedom in the free dance. It is four minutes long but has only maybe 30 seconds of free time, the rest are compulsory moves.
Why did you originally propose the idea of a short dance? Didn't you like the compulsories?
No, no, I loved the compulsory dance, I was really a fan. I enjoyed working on compulsory dances, but I also understood that it was not very interesting for the public, and that one day it would disappear. But I didn't want it to disappear completely, because it is the basis for the technique, so I thought of a way to keep it that would still be enjoyable for the public to watch.
Are you afraid that the young generation will forget the basis, now that the compulsories are only a part of the short dance?
They chose to make two rounds of compulsories for the juniors, which forces the skaters to really work on the compulsories that give the basis. But if they judged the full round of compulsories instead of just bits of it, that would work better to keep the technique.
Your comments about the competition in general?
I really liked the free dance of Nathalie and Fabian (P├ęchalat/Bourzat). The young American team (Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein) too, they were fun to watch. I like people who manage to entertain the audience, even with the very hard rules we have now. Entertainers like Nathalie and Fabian, the Americans... and in the men's Florent (Amodio). He, for example, did a really great job; he was really enjoyable for the audience. They were having fun [watching him] like it was a show. I think it's very important, because they keep the technique, they follow the rules but they are still thinking about entertainment for the audience. That is the main thing in our sport. And if we want our sport to keep going and to have a large audience it's very important to keep that [entertainment value].
You mentioned Nathalie, Fabian and Florent. How do you see the future of the French team, who do you see as its leaders?
Nathalie and Fabian really took the spot as leaders now and it's good because we've been waiting for them for this first place [in competitions] for years now. Florent and Chafik (Besseghier), the other young guy who competed here, are both good. I think Florent has got this talent that no matter what his results, the public will always be behind him and he will always be a good entertainer. He will do shows, and he will go on pro tours without any problems. So here we've got people who are leading the French team. Now we really need to work with ladies and most of all with pairs. We lost some good pairs (Vanessa James/Yannick Bonheur and Adeline Canac/Maximin Coia who split - ed.) and it's hard to build up-coming pairs. As for the ladies; I think in two years maybe we will have some who are able to do their best for France.
You're an ambassador for "Annecy 2018"; can you tell us more about it?
We've now got the "Annecy Olympics bid" to work on and we are really involved in it on an everyday basis. When I say "we" I mean French Olympic champions and medallists. As for my part I'm trying to get the support of as many companies as possible. And we really hope to be able to bring this Olympic dream, the Olympic flame, to France because we just love the Olympic spirit. And I'm sure the Games would be great held in Chamonix and Annecy which are great places for winter sports.