Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: “The most expensive program in my career is from Shae-Lynn. It cost around 8K USD. I paid from my own pocket and have not once regretted giving this money for a SP.”

Posted on 2024-06-02 • No comments yet


Elizaveta Tuktamysheva about choreography and costumes.

source: sports.ru

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In her blog on sports.ru Elizaveta Tuktamysheva shares her thoughts and experience. This time she posted about off season work on new programs and costumes. Here’s a translation of her comments.

“Hi everyone! The beginning of summer is a challenging time for figure skaters. You have to choose music and choreograph new programs – the ones you’ll be performing all year round. This time is always a bit nerve-racking for me, yet at the same time inspiring: what composition to choose, how will it affect the next season? So many options to choose from but how to decide?

How to choose a choreographer?

I rarely bring music to the team myself. Usually, we select a choreographer who will be creating the programs, and they propose the music, which we then discuss and agree on with the coaches. I choose a choreographer based on internal feelings. If I had a lively program, then I want something more lyrical, if it was tragic and emotional, next I fancy something bright and interesting. Each choreographer has their style and what they are really good at. When we settle the pace of the program, we decide on the choreographer. We know what they’re capable of, thus we choose a choreographer who can bring our ideas into reality on ice.

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For instance, my Free Skate for the 2022/23 season, “Loneliness”, was choreographed by Ilia Averbukh with further editing from Elizaveta Navislavskaya. It was immediately clear that it would turn out great. If you want lyrical and soulful programs, go to Averbukh. I always know beforehand that we will do well. We arranged our last programs quickly, and they turned out to be successful.

The short program to Beyoncé was choreographed by Adam Solya and it was an obvious choice too. If you need something dynamic, definitely Adam. However, when I decided to work with Shae-Lynn Bourne ahead of the 2019/20 season, I had no idea what I wanted. I gave her complete freedom of choice, there were no restrictions on the theme. She watched my performances, understood what I liked, and suggested the Florence and the Machine track. There was another option, a more folk composition, but I wanted to try something modern, so we went with Florence.

Shae-Lynn is very attentive in her approach to choreographing. We could be working on the beginning all day. We chose music, focused on accents so that the whole composition from start to finish was cohesive, without any gaps. She’s a perfectionist and the most detail-oriented choreographer I’ve ever worked with. She allowed no empty spaces in the program. I have never worked on a performance as I did with Shae-Lynn. Stephane Lambiel also proposes the music himself – then with his input, together we make a choice. Benoît Richaud too comes with his ideas and compositions. When we worked with him, we didn’t have any specific requests – he was a budding choreographer and offered the options he was strong in. It would be strange to ask him to create something extravagant and discomforting for him.

The most expensive program in my career is from Shae-Lynn. Evgenia Medvedeva has recently spoke about the prices, but she was talking about a free skate. I had a short program, so it cost a little less, around 8 thousand dollars – I believe, ice rental was included in this sum.

Usually, programs in Russia cost between 100 to 200 thousand rubles (1100 – 2200 USD). These are the rates for choreographers who have already made a name. I think such prices are only possible in Russia; in Europe, about 2,500 euros for a short program is the norm. But this is also for choreographers who are already known. Naturally, for beginners, the cost of the program is different. I think the price also depends on the personal relationships of the choreographer and the group. Payment is very clear cut: if you are in the main line-up of the Russian team, you are allocated a sum to choreograph programs, plus money for three costumes. You receive it and understand how to distribute it. When I worked with Shae-Lynn, this sum was not enough for me. I paid from my own pocket. It was my decision – I understood that I wanted to work with her at least once in my career because I really liked all her programs. I have not once regretted giving this money for a short program.

For this short, I changed the music once – I performed to Oblivion Piazzolla during test skates. In the summer, I was breaking in the program to Florence and the Machine, and almost every day we had debates with Alexei Nikolaevich (Mishin). Perhaps he didn’t quite understand this program. It was a completely new style, he thought that the music was too messy at the end: drums, just the beat and nothing else.

I fought for this music. But before the test skates, I thought: okay, maybe the choreography doesn’t quite suit me. But after performing, I understood: no, I didn’t start all this for nothing, I really like the program. In the end, I convinced Alexei Nikolaevich to return to the original version. I think the difference was noticeable – we ended up with two absolutely different programs. But that year I got my way and went to international competitions with Florence and the Machine.

Choreographers take such changes very sensitively. They are creative people, and the choreography is their baby. No one would be delighted if the music is changed, it’s not quite right. Then you also need to make changes to the program, adjust it so that everything looks like something new. Although some choreographers are very afraid that some of their moves will be discarded or redone, they take changes to heart. But sometimes it’s really needed.

As for the music, I researched this issue and found no specific law that would regulate its use in sports. This applies to figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming. International agreements come into force here, which allow us to use tracks. However, composers may demand compensation, but typically this doesn’t happen.

In general, available-to-use or public domain music is safe to use (this applies to all classical pieces that we use). So, we’re in a shaky position: we are not required to seriously approach the question of rights, but at the same time, if a performer or group is against using their music, they can ban performing with their compositions. This happened in Vancouver for Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin. At the Japanese Grand Prix in 2018, the Canadian Kevin Reynolds was banned from using a soundtrack from a game in the middle of the season.

When artists see someone skating to their music, they often feel positive emotions. Like Elton John, who congratulated Nathan Chen after Beijing 2022. This applies not only to music but also to the use of well-known images – for example, Steven Spielberg admired Yulia Lipnitskaya and her ‘Girl in a red coat’ at the Sochi Games. I think that when you record a song, it already belongs to the public. And using a track in dances, figure skating simply increases its popularity. It’s unlikely the artist wants their songs unheard of. Creativity is created for as many people as possible to enjoy it. Of course, there are still certain restrictions in using tracks, but not from artists. As an option – take not the original, but a cover (as Petr Gumennik did last season). This is not prohibited. This will be even more relevant in the future. Because there are good pieces that we, unfortunately, cannot always use. But these are not prohibitions, but rather recommendations.

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How much do dresses cost?

My dresses cost on average 30-60 thousand rubles (350-650 USD). The price depends on how long it takes to sew, how many rhinestones. Some of my costumes now come out cheaper because I aspire to minimalism. So, frills and pomp in outfits are not really my thing. And it turns out that the fewer rhinestones, the less bother and less cost.

But I had different outfits. For an exhibition skate to ‘Destination Calabria’, the outfit was expensive because there was a lot of everything: headgear – a kepi, and a green jacket with rhinestones, and cymbals.

I think the prices in Moscow are about the same. I know that some people have dresses that cost 100 thousand (1000 USD). There, probably, are a lot of rhinestones, meticulous work. I don’t know the prices abroad, but I think it’s even more expensive.

I rarely choreographed exhibitions with external choreographers, most often we prepared these with Tatiana Prokofieva. So, I don’t know the exact cost, but I think it’s akin to short program, maybe, slightly cheaper. The exhibition program are choreographed in a day or two, the main thing here is to find an idea. I like it when props are involved so that everything looks unusual and interesting. You don’t need to obsess over how to strictly perform steps or what complex elements to add. A cool exhibition can be built on whether this was fun or heartfelt. Sometimes they don’t even sew special costumes for exhibitions – they buy them in a regular store. Sometimes it’s even harder to set an exhibition than a competition program. For the ‘Russian Challenge’, participants are given 250 thousand (2700 USD). What if the budget was unlimited? I would do some cool special effects, invite light operators from ‘Coachella’, invite Rihanna as live vocals, ha-ha.

But creativity is not about money, it’s about inspiration. If there was too much money, poise and refinement might disappear. On the other hand, it might be possible to do something grand if such a sum ends up in the right hands, and there’s another story – one can experiment and move figure skating forward.”


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