Translation of Andrey Simonenko’s interview with Misha Ge.
Whom do you feel more, you’re more Russian, Chinese, Korean, or man of the world?
– Perhaps, a man of the world. My grandfather was half-Chinese, half-Russian, it’s the first generation of Russian-Chinese mixed blood in our family. I’m the third. My grandmother is Korean. I represent Uzbekistan and train in Los Angeles.
But there is, perhaps, the place where you have a sense “this is my home” …
– I spend a lot of time traveling around the world, but in Russia and China I feel most comfortable.
How many languages do you know?
– Russian, Chinese and English fluent. I speak them without an accent.
To understand how you became a choreographer in 25 years old, I want to know how figure skating come into your life?
– My mother was a figure skater in the Soviet Union, she won some medals. Then she became a coach and choreographer. My father was a skater in the national team of China, then became a coach too. That’s why I got on the ice.
Often parents-skaters do not want their children to do this sport.
– When I was a little kid, my mother worked in Moscow and signed me in a group to skate just for health. And when I was 10 years old, parents argued whether I should continue skating. Mom was in favor, dad was against. But in the end they decided that I have skills. Although, of course, they knew how hard it will be.
Especially hard when parents train their children.
– Yes. Many people say to me, oh, how good that parents train you, but they do not realize how difficult it is. Firstly, because there is a greater excitement. Second, the trainings does not actually stop even at home. You come in the evening and analysis of figure skating is continuing. You wake up in the morning and continue an analysis of figure skating.
I think the main problem that it’s hard for parents to be a tough coaches towards their own child.
– My father is very strict. The word “punishment” is a very soft word for him. But I am grateful to my parents, without their fosterage I would not be where I am now.
When did you realise that skating it’s what you want to do?
– It came gradually. With some first results, with the recognition of the audience, judges and experts. And most importantly when I realized that I do it for pleasure. Of course, we all try to get good scores, but when you feel the aura and the feedback from people who enjoy your skating, when you touch their hearts it is a huge reward.
Have you ever had to choose between skating and something else?
– I had offers on television. Offered to take part in the Chinese version of the show “Dancing with the Stars” and other projects. Offered to act in tv shows. Even offer a couple of small contracts in Hollywood. But I refused, because it interfered with training and competitions.
Besides the fact that you are a choreographer, you skate like a real artist. Where did you get the creative vein?
– My grandfather is painter and actor. He also did figure skating and jumping into the water, but in adulthood switched to ballroom dancing. The whole family is connected with the art. Father studied painting and music. In addition, that he was a figure skater he also danced in the Central Dance Academy in Beijing. This is the most professional Chinese school. Mom graduated from music school and Ballet School. Therefore since my childhood I was surrounded by music, dancing, acting …Grandpa taught me to express the classics: what and how to show, what to think about. From the actor’s point of view. So I tried to imbibe it all and continue to develop.
It’s interesting about the Hollywood
– There I also took acting lessons.
Who is your favorite actor?
– They are probably several. Johnny Depp is very extraordinary. He has such a variety of styles! I also like Robert De Niro and Richard Gere.
Have you ever wanted to copy anyone?
– I believe that it is possible to learn from everyone. Like some of my teachers said, even from children you can learn. From nature. Everyone and everything that surrounds you. The most important thing is continue learning.
How did you teach Anna Pogorilaya tango on the ice? To do this, you have to know how to do it yourself.
– My father more than 20 years has been single skater, but the last few years a dancer, skated in Natalia Dubova’s group in Moscow. And, as I said, I also did ballroom dancing just like my grandfather. Therefore, I’ve seen a lot of tango since childhood. Sometimes even tried to dance it.
But you have to teach Anna a female party.
– Indeed, in this case, for me as choreographer, it was important to feel not the male part of the tango, but to understand the feelings of a woman, what are her emotions when she dances with a partner. I had to study a lot. I have two dancing teachers in Hollywood, and they teach different styles. One is male teacher, he specializes in modern, contemporary dance. And the other – female. And when I was taking lessons from him, just trying to understand how a woman feels in dance, many said “Misha, you are dancing like a girl.” But sometimes a man has to be able to do it. Choreographer must be multifaceted and understand both parties.
I asked Anna whether you danced tango together, when you was creating her program. She said no.
– We focused more on the visual transmission of movements, so she could understand and feel them.
Did you explain what emotions she should express?
– Yes. Some movements have a meaning. Some dance movements, for example, show your interest in a man. Your desire to meet him, or, if we develop this topic further, the desire to draw his attention. So the dance is a story of your feelings. We can’t tell it with words, so we need to show it with movements.
Her program is the story of her feelings?
– This is the story of a girl dancing a passionate tango, but it’s also her story.
Do you satisfied with the result?
– I believe that we did a great work. But we continue to improve this program. I asked some well-known specialists, in particular, David Wilson, Alexander Zhulin. I am very grateful to them for their opinions. As well as the opinions of the federation and judges.
I can not but ask about the episode when you helped Anna to get a proper mindset before the free program at the World Championships in Boston, she also told me about it. You didn’t let her to take another cup of coffee.
– Of course, you can’t overdo with caffeine! In fact, I’m such kind of person, happy to help a good friend. If my words can add some of confidence, set up on the positive, so why not?
So, are you a little bit a psychologist?
– I always say to friends: my advices are what our older teachers taught us. And this does not mean that I am so wonderful. I am myself working on it. But that are words of great athletes, Olympic champions and World champions, from whom we all have to learn.
I’ve already asked whom you consider yourself by nationality. Now I ask whom do you consider yourself more choreographer, actor or a figure skater?
– I’m combining. I try to continue to grow both as a skater, as a choreographer and as an organizer and manager. In the summer, for example, we held a seminar in China, invited Alexei Mishin. 73 coach from all over China came! We are trying to develop the next generation of Chinese figure skating. There I worked both as a manager, as a translator and as an athlete.
It’s hard to combine.
– Indeed, it is hard. But I do everything that is possible. I’d love to have 48 hours a day.
By the way, you regularly come to Mishin.
– Yes, we know each other for a long time, since 2004, when he came to China for the Grand Prix final with Zhenya Plushenko. I really respect him, I learned a lot by his technique. And now, in these months, we are working closely together. I did programs for his skaters – Alexander Petrov, Artur Dmitriev. And I’d like to thank a lot Alexei Nikolaevitch for improvements in my skating that I have.
You got a quad jump.
– It is still not sufficiently consistent yet. There are still many gaps, on which I’ll have to work.
A person who rejects the proposals in Hollywood should have a goal that motivates him. What is it? Maybe Olympics in Beijing in 2022?
– Let’s not look so far in the future, it is necessary to look at things realistically. First, God blesses, I will spend this season well, then I’ll see what’s next. There are a lot of nuances on my way, I have my own difficulties. So I will try to move from one point to another.
But are there some point after which you will understand that your mission as a figure skater is completed?
– My goal is to improve with each stage. To develop as an athlete and as a person. It is important for me to see at least a small, but progress along this way.
photos from Misha’s instagram mishage8