Gary Beacom: this Canadian ice skater's unique modern style puts him on the cutting edge of today's figure skating.Canadian ice skater ice skate
A shoe or light boot with a metal runner or blade fitted to the sole, used for skating on ice.
ice Gary Beacom Gary Beacom is a Canadian figure skater who competed in men's singles. He won the silver medal at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in 1983 and 1984 and finished 11th at the 1984 Winter Olympics. burst onto the world scene when he competed for his country at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia, Television commentator and 1976 Olympic bronze medalist Toller Cranston Toller Cranston, CM (born April 20 1949) is a Canadian figure skater and artist.
He was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1949 and grew up in Kirkland Lake. Cranston is credited by many with bringing a new level of artistry to men's figure skating. called Beacom a "mad genius," adding that his skating was choreographically "so far ahead of its time that it leaves the judges without any knowledge as to what to do." America's Scott Hamilton Scott Hamilton can refer to any of the following people:
traditional first prize. [Western Cult: Misc.]
See : Prize ; Beacom placed eleventh. The judges' giving him a low mark during the compulsory figures Compulsory figures or school figures were formerly an aspect of the sport of figure skating, from which its name (in English) derives. The original focus of the sport was the carving of specific figures into the ice. portion of the competition so enraged en·rage
tr.v. en·raged, en·rag·ing, en·rag·es
To put into a rage; infuriate.
[Middle English *enragen, from Old French enrager : en-, causative pref. Beacom, who felt his "loop" figure had exactly matched the rule book's specifications, that he kicked the rink's sideboards side·board
1. A piece of dining room furniture having drawers and shelves for linens and tableware.
2. A board that forms a side or part of a side: the sideboards of a skating rink. and sent a thunderous boom echoing about the arena.
Now, at age thirty-five, Beacom continues to jolt conservative opinion-makers. His artistry stands in much the same relation to conventional figure skating figure skating
Sport in which ice skaters, singly or in pairs, perform various jumps, spins, and footwork. The figure skate blade has a special serrated toe pick, or toe rake, at the front. as modern dance does to classical ballet Noun 1. classical ballet - a style of ballet based on precise conventional steps performed with graceful and flowing movements
ballet, concert dance - a theatrical representation of a story that is performed to music by trained dancers in the nineteenth century, when character expression was often pantomimed as the dancing paused. Modernism in dance expresses character and mood through actual dance technique instead of being inserted around it. Beacom confesses, "I've seen a lot of modem dance. I've absorbed it. I've watched it carefully. I've seen what they're trying to do. I feel like I'm one of them even though I'm working in a different medium." Susanne Linke and Margie Gillis have inspired him as kindred solo performers.
Beacom started skating at age three simply because his parents took him along when they went to the rink. Beacom says he continued because he "showed some flair." It wasn't a conscious decision, he maintains. Raised in Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto, Beacom began taking formal lessons at age seven and entered his first competitions at age nine. Three times he finished as runner-up to 1984 and 1988 Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser in the Canadian men's championships. However, because his physical strength developed slowly, Beacom wasn't able to learn the various triple jumps at the same pace as the other top competitors. To attract attention to his amateur skating programs, Beacom soon began to develop both a unique movement style and a repertoire of original and unusual footwork.
Toward the end of his amateur days, Beacom continued to break with tradition by skating without a coach. At the time he was putting himself through the University of Toronto Research at the University of Toronto has been responsible for the world's first electronic heart pacemaker, artificial larynx, single-lung transplant, nerve transplant, artificial pancreas, chemical laser, G-suit, the first practical electron microscope, the first cloning of T-cells, . (One of very few professional skaters to have completed a college education, Beacom graduated in 1984 with a degree in physics and philosophy; he also speaks three languages.) Coaching fees would have strained his budget to the breaking point, and with his school obligations Beacom had only two hours a day to practice. That was too little time, in his words, to "stand around talking to a coach." He felt that it was more efficient to analyze things on his own as he skated. A performance had to be an expression of a single mind: his own.
Today, still uneasy with the politics he sees in competitive skating, Beacom says his guiding principles are "autonomy, individuality, and freedom." In a recent tour he even performed a piece entitled Don't Fence Me In (1991), to the Cole Porter song of the same title, and plans are in the works for a new piece to Randy Newman's "I'm Different."
This rebel attitude comes across loud and clear; as one reviewer has noted, "spectators are charmed by his tweaking tweaking Vox populi Fine-tuning to produce optimal results the nose of skating's dogma."
After the 1984 Olympics, the innovative British ice dancing gold medalists Torvill and Dean Torvill and Dean (Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean) are British ice dancers and British, European, Olympic and World champions. At the 1984 Winter Olympics the pair became the highest scoring figure skaters of all time (for a single programme) receiving 12 perfect 6. quickly hired Beacom as a principal soloist for their two-year world tour, an opportunity for him to experiment and grow. Beacom has worked steadily since then with Gia Guddat, his partner on and off the ice and a gifted skater and choreographer in her own right. In 1987 and 1988 he presented his acclaimed one-man skating show, Hard Edge (which he also produced), in three Canadian cities and New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. . Anna Kisselgoff's glowing New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times review of Hard Edge at New York City's Sky Rink in May 1988 marked a turning point in his career.
Further triumphs were the highly successful 1990 and 1991 tours with the Brian Boitano-Katarina Witt Skating. From 1989 to 1993 Beacom directed and starred in the Sun Valley Skating Center's summer programs. (Though Beacom still performs there, Guddat took over directing duties in 1994.) The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation “Radio-Canada” redirects here. For the French language TV arm of the CBC, see Télévision de Radio-Canada.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a Canadian crown corporation, is the country’s national public radio and television broadcaster. in early 1994 aired a one-hour documentary about his life and work entitled Ga Beacom: A Life on the Edge. Beacom regularly joins the latest crop of Olympic and world champions on the Tom Collins spring tours. This year Guddat joins him in a comic duet called I Think I'm Losing My Marbles (1991), using skates on their hands as well as on their feet. Beacom may also present a new comic solo set to Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man."
Despite his continued misgivings about judges, Beacqm has entered and won a number of competitions since turning professional, but such success as a touring performer is rare for skaters who have never captured any world or Olympic amateur title. (Guddat never had an amateur career at all.) His success is based on a technical and choreographic originality so striking one can only conclude that the 1984 Olympic judges missed a lot.
Beacom's unique approach stands apart from the accomplishments of other artistic pioneers in solo figure skating. The late John Curry took classical inspiration to its limits, while Toller Cranston is skating's premiere romantic individual stylist. More recently, 1994 Olympic gold medalist Oksana Baiul has astounded a·stound
tr.v. a·stound·ed, a·stound·ing, a·stounds
To astonish and bewilder. See Synonyms at surprise.
[From Middle English astoned, past participle of astonen, world audiences with her dramatic power and expressive refinement, as precocious at her tender years as Nijinsky was when he burst upon the world scene in the early 1900s.
Though rather shy and soft-spoken, Beacom does an admirable job of specifying his innovations. "Skates are for skating" is his philosophy. He says, "The essence of my approach is that I use the abilities that you can achieve on ice skates, that you can't achieve on the [dance] floor, to the maximum. The two things that you can do on ice skates that you can't do in ballet shoes are glide and achieve lean, or edges. So I've taken that to extremes.... People have called my style strange, weird, offbeat off·beat
An unaccented beat in a measure.
Not conforming to an ordinary type or pattern; unconventional: offbeat humor. , and revolutionary, but it's not intended to be. I've simply gone to first principles with the sport and developed it, and the result is something that's a little bit different."
In fact, Beacom has completely liberated the actual technique of skating from balletic conventions of posture and body line, which the figure-skating world has always embraced without question. Skating choreography may be starkly modern or jazz-oriented, but the underlying skating technique is ordinarily quite conventional, an exercise in strict adherence to academic form. Though the knees may be deeply bent during conventional stroking, edging, and spinning movements, the torso is typically erect.
What Beacom has done is create a substantial body of new techniques of real skating (propulsive stroking, leaning, spinning, and jumping) to achieve modern and novel expression. Unlike other skaters. he rarely expresses character and mood between strokes, edges, spins, and jumps. Beacom's knowledge of physics and his maverick personality make him uniquely qualified to invent new ways of moving on the ice. He often uses gravity in much the same way as a modem dancer does, allowing his body to begin free-falling, then quickly catching himself, swinging to carry his earthbound earth·bound also earth-bound
1. Fastened in or to the soil: earthbound roots.
a. momentum into an unexpected but fluid direction.
Working against expectations is, indeed, at the center of his technique. He jumps out of and into unusual positions, gathering energy to take off in completely original ways. Most of Beacom's skating innovations are based on a thoroughly anticlassical posture, one that is relaxed, rubbery, slouched, bent over, or crouched. More often than not he is surprisingly off balance. Sometimes he even skates with his feet turned in, and he has taken improvisation to revolutionary extremes. The 1992 piece You Shook Me, to the Led Zeppelin song, was improvised every evening during that year's tour of Stars on Ice.
Dance critic Edwin Denby wrote in 1944 that "it is the comics who use most inventively and most dramatically the peculiar resources of motion on the ice." Beacom's unique skating vocabulary does lend itself most readily to comic pieces, but behind the humor of much of his work lies the serious notion that ice skating's potential as an expressive medium extends far beyond classicism classicism, a term that, when applied generally, means clearness, elegance, symmetry, and repose produced by attention to traditional forms. It is sometimes synonymous with excellence or artistic quality of high distinction. and popular Ice Capades--style spectacle.
Many critics have called Beacom an antihero, the Jack Nicholson of the skating world. The Nicholson comparison stems largely from a highly successful piece entitled Please Clarify,: A Four-Part Suite (1987), choreographed with input from the late Canadian coach Frank Nowosad, in which Beacom slicked back his hair and wore hepcat hep·cat
A performer or devotee of swing and jazz, especially during the 1940s. glasses. The brilliant fourth movement of the piece, choreographed entirely by Beacom, is one of the skater's signature numbers, and he presented it across the country during the 1991 Tom Collins tour. Here his revolutionary skating vocabulary, including stumbles and extended off-balance gallops, runs, and walks, creates a tragicomic figure more closely related to Charlie Chaplin or New Vaudevillian vaude·vil·lian
One, especially a performer, who works in vaudeville.
Noun 1. Bill Irwin.
Malevolent Landscape (1989), performed to Patrick O'Hearn's African-inspired music, is another signature piece, frequently compared to Paul Taylor's 3 Epitaphs. In it Beacom, entirely covered in black from his stocking mask to the tips of his skates, uses his technical innovations to create an otherworldly, nonhuman spider skater, or a shadowy "exhibitionist exhibitionist /ex·hi·bi·tion·ist/ (ek?si-bish´in-ist) a person who indulges in exhibitionism.
exhibitionist An exhibitor exhibiting exhibitionism, see there ninja" caught in a palpably menacing atmosphere. At the end of the piece Beacom bows in character to extend the eerie impression. In I'm Going Slightly Mad (1992), set to the Queen song, Beacom wears a straitjacket straitjacket /strait·jack·et/ (strat´jak?et) informal name for camisole.
strait·jack·et or straight·jack·et
n. and assumes the role of a madman. Something is always askew a·skew
adv. & adj.
To one side; awry: rugs lying askew.
[Probably a-2 + skew. in the worlds he creates.
Not since the 1860s, when American skater Jackson Haines first brought ballet technique onto the ice, has the world of figure skating seen such sweeping innovation from a single individual. Like Haines, who designed blades that became the standard in their time, Beacom has had to modify his equipment to accommodate his style. He files off the edges of his boot soles and blade plates to get more clearance for his unusually deep edgework; to allow more ankle play he uses boots that are more flexible than those used by triple-jump specialists.
Also like Haines, Beacom has also provoked some sharply negative emotional reactions. Some complain that Beacom's innovative style is merely a cover-up for weaknesses in his fundamental skating technique. It is true that when he is called upon to skate orthodox strokes, his upper body can seem stiff, his arms appear poorly positioned, and his arabesques may look subpar sub·par
1. Not measuring up to traditional standards of performance, value, or production.
2. Below par in a hole, round, or game of golf. . This effect could be another result of his characteristic reticence to do what's expected of him, or it may be due to genuine technical deficiencies.
It should be remembered, however, that necessity has often been the mother of invention in the arts. Jazz dance pioneer Bob Fosse, for example, worked around his technical weaknesses and transmuted such drawbacks as his hunched shoulders and forward-leaning neck into stylistic fundamentals.
Other viewers, perhaps forgetting how monotonous traditional skating can become, complain that Beacom's work is not varied enough and that he repeats signature movements too often. Not all notices have been raves, either. Reviewing Malevolent Landscape in the July 1990 Dance Magazine after Beacom performed it with Ice Theatre of New York The Ice Theatre of New York is a professional figure skating group that performs modern dance choreography on ice. It was founded in 1984 by Moira North, and is currently based at the Chelsea Piers rink complex in New York City. , Gary Parks found that his "choreography didn't develop this intriguingly weird notion [of a skater covered entirely in black; Beacom's] in-character bow turned out to be the best part of the piece."
Jackson Haines was ultimately forced to find acceptance and acclaim abroad before the American skating scene embraced his approach. (His advances eventually formed the foundation for what is now known as the International Style of figure skating.) Beacom feels that he has already had a substantial, though largely unacknowledged, influence on the mainstream skating world. While no one would yet suggest that his approach be heralded as a new standard for all, Beacom has unquestionably un·ques·tion·a·ble
Beyond question or doubt. See Synonyms at authentic.
un·question·a·bil kicked a hole in the rink sideboards wide enough for figure skating to grow technically and artistically.
Daniel Gesmer, founder of Seismic Skate Systems, Inc., developed a dance-oriented approach to freestyle skate-boarding after graduating from Yale in 1986.