Alexander Zhulin: “Classics develops skaters, but it’s not for everyone. Not for Hubbell / Donohue or Chock / Bates. Classics is useless for acrobatic athletes who don’t have ideal lines, you will never achieve a wow effect.”

Posted on 2022-07-24 • No comments yet


Alexander Zhulin choreographed new program for Mishin / Galliamov, told why he considers them a but juniors and also shared his opinion on classical programs.

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source: dd. 7th July by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya

Constant work with new choreographers allows skaters to develop more actively. This was stated in an interview by coach Alexander Zhulin, who agreed to choreograph a short program for Anastasia Mishina and Aleksander Galliamov for the next season. According to the coach, the guys still have room to grow, because in some aspects they remain juniors. The specialist also noted the serious progress of Victoria Sinitsina and explained why Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov won the silver of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

In recent years, it has become the norm that the strongest pairs ask ice dance specialists to do the programs. How serious is your work with Anastasia Mishina and Aleksander Galliamov in this regard?

Alexander Zhulin: If have you noticed, the coach of this pair, Tamara Moskvina, constantly changes choreographers. Irina Zhuk created a free program for the guys, I’m working on a short one. Prior to this, Moskvina quite often asked Peter Tchernyshev, Igor Bobrin, Natalia Bestemianova.

Is it difficult for a skater when a coach changes his choreographers so often?

Alexander Zhulin: It seems to me that this makes an athlete develop more actively. You try different directions and choreography, so in the Olympic year there is a wide range for choice – you already know which choreographer is more comfortable to work with, which style is more suitable. For example, I love to created programs myself, but at one time I was very pleased with the experience of working with Radu Poklitaru – a very peculiar choreographer, whose style is immediately visible. I invited him to choreograph a free dance for Katya Bobrova and Dima Soloviev.

What is the originality of Poklitaru as a choreographer?

Alexander Zhulin: Explaining in simple terms, Radu really likes some movements out of music rhythm. According to music, one move seems to be logical, but he puts several, and everything starts to look many times faster. Pieces like this stick in memory. Over the years of choreographing, I have also developed my own techniques and findings, but when I start creating the next program, I try with all my might to abstract from what I have already done. For some reason, you always want to get as far away from any standards as possible.

If like the Poklitaru’s style so much, why did he create only one program for your skaters?

Alexander Zhulin: Well, somehow there was no need. And besides, our team have an outstanding and versatile specialist – Sergei Petukhov. We have been working together for a long time, and I know that no matter how hard the task is, he implements it very well and with high quality.

Over the two years that Mishina and Galliamov performed at the senior level, I got the impression that both are not the easiest “material” for the choreographer. They fit the style that was used in the programs “Time, Forward” or “We are the Champions” so well that it is tempting to continue moving in this derection further.

Alexander Zhulin: I do not agree. If everything was as perfect as you say, then with the program “Time, Forward”, the guys would now be Olympic champions, and not bronze medalists. Yes, I am ready to agree: such a musical style creates a very definite mood, courage, but Nastya and Sasha need to continue to develop. For me, despite all the titles, they continue to be juniors in some ways.

What exactly?

Alexander Zhulin: When an athlete has not completely got rid of junior psychology, he offers little in training himself. Usually he just looks at the coach or choreographer and repeats what he is shown. This is not a con, but a property of age that disappears with time. Then it comes the ability to live each program, to pass it through yourself.

I think that Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov beat Mishina / Galliamov at the Beijing Games precisely because of this quality – they showed more mature skating, more soulful, soul-touching.

Is the music Nastya and Sasha’s short program still a secret?

Alexander Zhulin: It’s better to ask Tamara Nikolaevna. I’m not sure that it would be right for me to release the information until it is announced by the coach. I can only say that I really like the music, it suits the guys very much.

Doesn’t it scare you that every year the programs of pairs become more and more dance-oriented? After all, the question arises: why not combine the two disciplines into one, abandoning pure ice dance?

Alexander Zhulin: It seems to me that the International Skating Union, on the contrary, is trying to separate them as much as possible using the rules, since visually these categories really became close.

That’s why I asked the question.

Alexander Zhulin: I don’t think that ice dancer will be very happy with the prospect of learning lifts, twists and throws. Ice dance are already getting more complicated every year in terms of steps – it is no coincidence that both singles and pairs take so many ideas from our type of skating. Everyone must do their job. Look, Sasha Trusova jumped 4.19m in long jump. Were you curious to see it?


Alexander Zhulin: Neither do I. Sasha is much more interesting when she jumps quadruple jumps. And Alina Zagitova is interesting not because of how she is boxing in the ring. I have a girl in a group now who has all the triples. So what? Put these jumps into the program?

In ballet, it is believed that every dancer must undergo classical training “at the barre”, because this is the base on which the entire profession is built in the future. Is it possible to say that a figure skater must go through a certain number of classical programs?

Alexander Zhulin: Classics, of course, develops, but I must say, it is far from being for everyone. Katya Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze or Vika Sinitsina / Nikita Katsalapov are very good in the classics. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue or Madison Chock and Evan Bates – absolutely not. If you create a program for acrobatic athletes who do not have ideal lines, it is useless to take classics, you will never achieve a wow effect. In the same way, a classical dancer not always can show modern well.

Do you choreograph both programs for Sinitsina and Katsalapov yourself?

Alexander Zhulin: Yes, we are in the process right now. I especially enjoy working with Vika and Nikita. They are very good “material” for any choreographer. If, for example, I say that I need a step sequence of a certain duration along a short side, the guys immediately offer me a dozen options to choose from. The same were Tanya Navka with Roman Kostomarov.

I remember the times when Vika only kept silent and listened in training. At what point did you feel that she had become an equal member of your team?

Alexander Zhulin: It was the season when the guys skated Piazzola’s Tango. In that program, it somehow immediately became clear that two equal partners were performing.

It is clear that Nikita is so charismatic that he constantly pulls the blanket over himself, but when he remembers that he needs to work with a partner, the dance immediately begins to play with other colors. Well, and Vika immediately blossomed as soon as she began to feel the emphasized attention to herself on the ice.

The current season, Russian skaters, most likely, will have to spend inside the country. Is there a desire to try to go beyond the rules in programs?

Alexander Zhulin: What’s the point? You can, of course, take risks in choosing music, some other things, but globally we still have to keep in mind all the technical requirements: step sequences, key points. Another question is that we need to come up with new formats such as the jumping championship. There are many options. The main thing is that all this should be interesting for athletes. But personally, I still keep the World Championships in my head. I really hope we get a chance to go there.


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