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 Patinage Artistique - Interview Nathalie Péchalat et Fabian Bourzat

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PostSubject: Patinage Artistique - Interview Nathalie Péchalat et Fabian Bourzat   Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:12 pm

Patinage Artistique - Interview Nathalie Péchalat et Fabian Bourzat

Source, Annecy InfoSports.com

Currently touring Eastern Europe with Kings on Ice, Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat, from now on leaders of French ice-dance, took some time off their already very busy schedule to answer our questions.

Annecy-Infosports : Was it hard to find motivation and get focused again on Worlds after the Olympics ? Was it helpful to go back to last season FD ?

Fabian : Yes, it was hard because the Olympics were the peak of our season. I think that going back to an old FD didn’t help, because it meant extra work but our Circus FD is a delight to us, a recreation that allowed us to have fun until the 6 minutes warm-up in Torino.

AIS : What is your feeling after this 4th World place, after you finished 3rd in the Free dance, beat your PBS, and beat it in the Compulsory dance as well ?

Fabian : The season as a whole has been rather difficult for us, so, ending with nice scores at a competition like Worlds enabled us to re-focus and to zero in on next season with hopes. Hopes of medals this time.

AIS : By the way, what do you think of the eventual ending of Compulsory dances ?

Fabian : Compulsory dances were never our forte. Their deletion will hopefully give the public the opportunity to appreciate this kind of competition without overdosing on outdated stuff. It seems the new dance called "short dance" is still based upon compulsory dance, that doesn’t look so bad. As far as we know for now…

AIS : Do you think that any music and any theme can be used in ice dance ?

Fabian : Indeed. I think that ANY music can be used in ice dance, as long as it’s done in a way that can appeal to everyone.

AIS : How do you "build" a program, a free dance in particular ?

Fabian : Generally, we look for a theme that we like first, then that our coaches like. (Next year, we will dance to a theme suggested by A. Zhulin). Then, we look for suitable music and, for years already, we have hired choreographers from outside of the skating world. (Laurie-May Ayvigan, Mourad Merzouki and Kader Belmoktar or Julien Cottereau) We build the set of the program on the floor, with brief sessions on the ice to check how it’s working. Then, we work on the links with our coaches in order to give flow to our steps.

AIS : Why did you choose Country music as your Original dance this year ?

Fabian : We already had chosen the theme for the free dance (rather dark and heavy) and we wanted something different, lighter. Since we didn’t find what we wanted in our national folklore, we chose country music. Every year, we try to make a "figure skating" program and a program that looks more like an exhibition, I’d say a program that look more like us.

AIS : You are known and praised for your creativity as well as for your wish to share your passion with the audience, to spark off emotions. Which one of you is the most imaginative ? Are there fields where one of you is more creative than the other ? How do you accommodate two different personalities in this creativity process ? Is it difficult to find themes that allow you both to express yourselves ?

Fabian : Usually, we get along very well despite we are different characters. But we live in the same world and share the same aspirations. We share the same ideas about our new programs and our vision of ice dance is strictly the same : to bring something new without being off limits for the judges. I’d say that I’m the most imaginative of the two but if Nath’ has fewer ideas, they are often very good. Let’s say I’m more productive…

AIS : In the construction of your programs, do you favor the acting and interpretation side in which personal investment is lesser, or, on the contrary, do you prefer something more genuine, more revealing about yourselves, even if it implies a bigger emotional involvement ?

Nathalie : Both ! At the same time !! I prefer to choose a theme suitable for our personalities, then afterwards, we’ll work on the acting and interpretation, because seen from afar, our intentions and expressions have to be clearly visible…

AIS : We know that training methods are different whether you’re at home or abroad. How does a typical training day in Moscow look like ? Practical question : what language do you use with your coaches ?

Nathalie : We speak English with Sasha, and with Oleg too (even if he speaks some French), because they convey very precise information. By the way, they speak excellent English for they have both lived in the United States. We practice an average of four hours in a row a day, just enough time to resurface the ice every hour and a half. Three times a week, before ice practice, Sasha teaches us ballet dance. Then we take 30 to 45 minutes to work on a lifts session and a stretching session.

AIS : Your collaboration with Alexander Zhulin and Oleg Volkov has been fruitful so far. Are you going to stay with them ?

Nathalie : Yes. Our cooperation has never been at stake. We are happy with it.

AIS : Alexander Zhulin and Oleg Volkov also coach junior dancers Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsapalov, seen by many as the future big team of Russian ice-dance, and meant to be contenders for seniors as soon as next season. Aren’t you worried that it will somewhat push you again in the background of your coaches’ priorities for the future ?

Nathalie : Yes it’s true that Elena and Nikita are already very good and have a big potential. However, we’re not the same age, we don’t have the same pace nor the same goals. We’re aiming for European and World medals on the very short term. I really hope they’ll meet success but a little after us ! Even if they all are Russians and we are French, Sasha is clever enough to coach his two teams simultaneously and to know that, should something go wrong, we’d leave. So far, the situation is very comfortable for the whole team !

AIS : Fabian, you’ve had recurrent trouble with your ankle. How are you now, after a season that looked long and hard on everyone ?

Fabian : Indeed, the season has been really difficult, partly because of my ankle. But now everything is alright.

AIS : In an article from (French daily paper) L’Equipe (dated 03/22/10), you said that, while wishing to show you could have different styles, you had been a little bit carried away and had forgotten who you really were with your 2009/2010 Free dance. That’s what led you to go back to your Circus FD. Have you already started to work on your future programs and what are you going to do not to lose track again ?

Nathalie : We have picked up the theme of our FD in January. The idea is Sasha’s and we’ve immediately been thrilled. We have the music, we’re working on it and on the storyboard with Sasha (since it’s him who’s building our programs next season), we also have [picked up] our partners : choreographer, director, costume designer. As for the short program, same, as soon as we learned about the new rules, it came up as an obvious fact for us ! Everything is taking its place little by little, by the end of June all will be built. For both programs, we wanted to be “us”, to tell a story, and as usual, to have fun. All we can say for now is that it’s going to be moving and… joyful !

AIS : How did you ended up on tours like Diamonds on Ice and Kings on Ice ?

Fabian : We’ve been working with the Japanese for years and I think that, despite our lack of records, we are valued for our originality. Tours promoters know that every of our exhibitions will be fun for the audience, and among all these Adagios, I think they like our work and our singularity.

AIS : From now on, you are the 1st French ice dancers. Have things changed for you and in your relations with FFSG ? If not or not yet, what would you like/hope to see changing ?

Fabian : We’ve been French NR 1 for a very short period of time, so I’ll only be able to answer you at the end of next season.

AIS : Your official site mentions that you work with mental coaches, one of them being an Assertiveness specialist. How important is mental coaching ?

Nathalie : Mental coaching has been very important when we went from Juniors to Seniors, to be more self-confident on the ice and stronger in competition. It took a while to fall into place. Now, we only resort to it in exceptional cases. We have understood what was to be understood to be competitive at the right time, and mainly, that, to be ready mentally, you have to be ready physically ! Assertiveness has been very important in the communication between Fabian and I : it’s like a "positive manipulation", i.e. to express oneself, to learn how to ask, how to thank someone you spend most of your time with, with whom you have to make compromises, etc. and it’s not always easy when you have two totally different ways of functioning, even if they are positive and completing.

AIS : In your career, your have been judged under two different notation systems. Today the CoP requires a lot of technical elements and that leads a lot of dancers to focus on the number of points that have to be harvested rather than on choreography, a musical theme and its interpretation, the ultimate goal still being , of course, to win medals. For ice-dancers like you, it must be particularly frustrating…

Fabian : Of course the new system has led to a "sanitization" of ice skating but for us the challenge is to show that we can focus well on both, in order to push the discipline forward. In that perspective, we have seen some new rules implemented regarding musical choices, the right to pick up more inspiring music has been requested.

AIS : Do you think that your discipline is going through a transitional phase or that it will persist in a very technical direction to the detriment of the artistic and interpretation side ?

Fabian : I hope that figure skaters will do their best to no longer consider our discipline like a sport but rather like a show. It will greatly help in changing things.

AIS : Do you set precise goals every season, like a definite European and World place to reach ?

Fabian : Yes we do, each year we determine precise goals to reach, often difficult goals but always attainable in order to keep a steady pace in our work.

AIS : What is your take on the other disciplines of your sport, pairs, individuals ?

Fabian : Same observation as for ice-dance. Today champions are strategists who think in term of points when they build their programs. I don’t think it helps in making charismatic champions as we had in the past. Enough to see Mao Asada (World champion this year) who finished second in the LP with two triple-axels behind Korean YuNa Kim who can afford to make mistakes in her program. Sport feats have no value anymore and it’s the most deterring point.

AIS : You will respectively be 31 and 34 for Sochi Olympic Games. This isn’t old for ice-dancers even if today champions are younger than yesterday. Do you already know if you will stay on until 2014 ? What will be decisive for you ?

Nathalie : Rectification, we will be 30 and 33 ! (we’re both born in December)… Today it can seem old because the Olympic champions and vice-champions are 20 and 23 but other than that, in ice-dance, we’re far from being an exception. We will do everything to go on until 2014 but only under some conditions :

- if we feel comfortable with the new rules and the evolution of ice-dance
- if physically, mentally and technically we’re still up to par
- if our results enable us to run for a medal, we won’t go there to fight for a fifth place…
What is certain is that we’ll take it year after year with the World championship 2012 in Nice as our biggest target.

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