Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wilson choreographing Weir's new programs

Johnny Weir has learned the truth of the old adage, "Never say never." After working with Russian-born choreographers for years -- including Tatiana Tarasova, Nina Petrenko, Denis Petukhov and Marina Anissina -- the three-time U.S. champion is turning to Canadian David Wilson for programs this Olympic season. But as he told icenetwork.com, that doesn't mean he's playing it safe.

Icenetwork: Why David Wilson, and why now?

Johnny Weir: Well, I've been impressed with his work for a long time, but [before] he was working with Jeff Buttle and I didn't want to mix myself with one of my top international competitors. That always put me off working with David. So, first and foremost, I went to David because I admire what he does and he's very creative. He's one of the only people I know as crazy and colorful in the head as I am, and, if you mix the two of us, we can come up with something fantastic. Second, like everyone else, I've seen his results. Yu-Na [Kim] had scores as high as a lot of the men at worlds. Buttle was world champion. Joannie Rochette is doing very well. Obviously, he's very good at putting together programs under [the International Judging System]. I need that input. I've been lacking as far as transitions are concerned. As much as I sometimes hate it, I have to play by the rules.

In the past, you've said you will only use Russian choreographers?

Weir: When you hear something consistently, you need to buckle down. I've taken flack for only using Russian [choreography]. Previously, Russians were not necessarily choreographing for the system, because they were already the best -- and why change?

This was particularly true of Tatiana Tarasova and others from the Soviet-era generation. They were already the best; they were already successful. But, when you're an athlete, you want to win. You have to play the game to some extent. At the end of the day, I'm still headstrong. I still have my own ideas, but I'm tapering that a little bit. One person this year in particular called me to discuss what my ideas were. This person said, "We really want to see big fireworks at the end of a program, like Evan Lysacek does." Now I didn't want to hear that, but telling me to look at how someone else did things brought it home to me that yes, at the end of his music, he goes huge, and maybe there's something to that. That last footwork sequence gets people clapping.

Full interview.

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