Ilia Averbukh: Skaters need to perform the jumps, only then everyone will admit the talent of the choreographer
Ilia Averbukh about his work with Russian skaters on programs for next season, Evgenia Medvedeva and ice shows.
by Boris Hodorovski for sport-weekend.com dd 13 June 2019.
Last season, you choreographed programs for Sofia Samodurova and Dmitri Aliev. Does it hurt that Samodurova’s program worked out and she became a European champion, and nobody even paid attention to Aliev’s program?
– It’s sad when the program doesn’t consider successful. Skaters need to perform the jumps, only then everyone will admit the talent of the choreographer. For example, Alina Zagitova won the Olympics with the program choreographed for junior competitions. In figure skating, it is considered bad manners to keep the program for two years in a row. And she had a junior program with additional 30 seconds required for senior level! Last season, Samodurova was the most consistent of all Russian ladies. So the program considered successful.
Could had Aliev’s program been also sucessfull?
– He’s a very talented skater. I like the way Evgeni Rukavitsin and choreographer Olga Glinka work with him. Aliev’s program was filled with philosophical meaning, and everyone imagined how to perform it. Only from the very beginning it did not go. I hope this season Dmitri will return and will take part in the fight for the highest places at major competitions. He has a very good skating and a wonderful ability to feel the music.
Will you continue cooperation with skaters from St. Petersburg this season?
– I’ve already continued. I did a free program for Samodurova, as well as for Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. Alexei Mishin really liked my work. But we still need to work on the music a bit.
Who else will show your program this season?
– We resumed cooperation with Evgenia Medvedeva, whom I did a short program. Now we are working on a rhythm dance for Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin. The guys themselves invited me, although I have little experience with ice dancers. Only the German duo Nelli Zhiganshina / Alexander Gazi whom I did “Zombies” free dance, with which they showed the best result in their careers at the European and World championships. For me, working with Stepanova and Bukin is a challenge.
It is no secret that Medvedeva performed the programs you have planned for Yulia Lipnitskaya. How important is the figure skater’s personality for the choreographer?
– Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s rather Yulia’s mother rejected the idea and music I offered. The idea was good, even Eteri Tutberidze said that. As a result, we decided to make a program for Zhenya. This doesn’t mean that we gave the entire Yulia’s program, we simply used the idea of music sounding inside a person. By the way this idea was born at the “Ice Age” show.
Is today’s Medvedeva different from the one that worked in the group of Tutberidze?
– Age is age, and Zhenya just has gone through a transitional period. Many imagine Tutberidze as some kind of monster and despot. It’s not like that at all. Discipline in the group of Eteri Georgievna is very serious, but she treats her students with sincere love. I saw how much Tutberidze invested in Medvedeva, how she protected her. They had absolute unity, reminiscent of the relationships of mother and daughter. With Brian Orser, of course, everything is different. And in the work on new programs Medvedeva has also changed. She often adds some nuances of her own. Zhenya’s body works very beautiful, somewhere the North American style of skating shows up. But still, you have to jump!
Did Medvedeva herself invited you do her program?
– I think it was her idea. I’m grateful to Orser that he agreed. Still, he has his own circle of choreographers, and we are strangers to him. Canadian and Russian coaches have different point of view about programs. We worked on program in Moscow. Unlike the Tutberidze’s group, where everyone is involved in work with choreographer, Zhenya and I worked only together this time. Showed a ready program to Orser.
You happened to train in the group of Natalia Linichuk and Gennady Karponosov, where at one time trained six strongest duets in the world. Now the same happens in the group of Tutberidze …
– Such groups in a certain period arise in Russia, and Canada, and in the United States. Even before Linichuk and Karponosov’s group, where the strongest Russian ice dancers trained together, there was Natalia Dubova. It’s a huge advantage for a coach, when he doesn’t have to motivate his skaters everyday. They see their main competitors and each workout turns into a competition. The struggle for survival gives a tremendous push to progress! Another thing is that with such a competition, an elite group will inevitably fall apart. Someone will leave because, as it seems to him, lack of attention, someone will accuse the coach that he holds him back intentionally. Some talents will fall-out, leaving to another specialist.
American producers have clearly defined the secret of the success of professional shows: the scandal or domination of the athletes of their country, primarily at the Olympics. Russia now has both, if we talk about ladies single skating. Will this contribute to the popularity of your ice shows?
– So far neither Zagitova nor Medvedeva participate in my show. If incomes had increased with their arrival, one could have talked about the use of American recipes. I’m not ready to answer the question how to make a profit from the confrontation in social networks between the fans of the two best figure skaters of recent years. Interest to figure skating has grown significantly in recent years and this is great!