Monday, May 19, 2014

Why is Catherine Lyons' floor exercise so good?

Over the weekend, Catherine Lyons, the British gymnast that the entire gymternet seems to have an enormous crush on, made all of our dreams come true by winning the floor gold in the junior portion of the European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Here's her winning routine from event finals:



Unlike most of the other gymnasts in the world--elite and NCAA--her music is not heavily percussive, which opens up new choreographic possibilities for her. Most of her dance moves are in the contemporary/lyrical vein in the routine. (And the music should be familiar to any millennial who listened to the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack on repeat--it's Desiree's "Kissing You.") Unlike the "strike a pose" school of floor routine choreography, all of Lyons' movements flow one into the next. She doesn't even stop to prepare a turn. She just does it as though it's part of the dance. Also, the dance parts seemed to have been specifically selected for the music. None of the parts in this floor routine are interchangeable with one another. And there is no way she could use the same dance moves for another floor routine (as Aliya Mustafina seems to do--different music, same dance). Lyons' routine is truly special and I can't wait to see how she develops.

And yet I worry about the future of Lyons' floor exercise. 5.2 is a bit low when it comes to D-score. Even though her execution is quite lovely and she has been successful at the junior level, will she be able to increase her difficulty to be competitive at the senior level without sacrificing the innovative choreography that made us all fall in love with her in the first place? Will she be able to amass a high enough D-score without adding a fourth pass?

Personally, I've never been a big fan of four pass routines. Usually, at least one of the four passes are what I refer to as "filler" passes--far less difficult than the other three. I'd rather not watch that low difficulty pass and just go with three. I've had my fill of double pikes/double tuck dismounts from gymnasts who can tumble double doubles. I'd rather see difficulty increase in absolute terms--with fantastically hard, original skills--than watch gymnasts throw a lot of mid level skills into a routine in order to rack up the tenths. Give me three hard passes and a lot of choreography over four mediocre passes and uninspired dance.

And if you're Catherine Lyons, I'll take three average tumbling passes so long as you keep dancing like you're trying to win So You Think You Can Dance

1 comment:

jjore said...

I enjoyed this. As someone who comes from dance, acting and circus, I find this a refreshing change of pace and would in fact... like to see much, much more of this style of movement.

Possibly I wish acting or physical theater were part of the standard curriculum.