Tuesday, June 1, 2010


So, a few people have complained, both in the comments to my Deng Linlin post and on the IG forum that Deng Linlin's new layout full is all well and good, but where's the choreography?

I wasn't aware anyone did beam choreography anymore- not even the Chinese.

What we have these days is a whole bunch of polished poses- of which some nations are better than others.

The Chinese have always had lovely positions on beam, and yes, I completely agree that even those are disappearing for the sake of bigger! better! more! kinds of skills.

In fact, you guys are gonna love this fun fact- I did a google image search of "Deng Linlin beam", of which there are many results.  I got to page fifteen without finding a picture of Deng committing an act of choreography.  And I don't mean I found one on page fifteen either.... I just got bored and gave up.  The closest i got was this- I mean, it's arty right- but that is as close as it got to artistic.  It was all leap and salto pics of Linlin- and with very good reason.

Most beam poses annoy the crap outta me anyway.  There is way to much faffing around.  Who needs all that hand waving and shoulder shrugging? Even the gymnasts I love do way too much of it.

Do a nice scale and hold it rather than show how many different directions you can send your fingers in at one time -whilst doing a graceful buttshelf (but a buttshelf nonetheless) followed by six other equally futile and degrading moves.

Yes, even Pavs wasn't above committing the old buttshelf/finger flare!  The Russians love it.

Don't believe me....?

I blame beam poses fourth to leotards, NBC commentators and naff floor music as to why no one can our beloved sport seriously.

Not a big fan of the 'need to go to the bathroom right now' leg cross either.

China loves the bend from the hips, which I don't mind...

But someone needs to give those hands some valium so they can relax....

Also- Nastia, Pavs, no one -not even you- looks good when the rib cage is thrusted forward like a skinny chicken.  Don't know what I mean?  THIS is what I mean.....

There is such a thing as too bendy- it gets all contorted and ugly looking.

See?  Ribs. Ew.

There is the old, "See- I can separate my arms, but only if I turn sideways" (but yes, reader, you are right, Deng Linlin hasn't learned that one yet).

Let me say that again- in American- so everyone can understand me...

Sideways. Arms separate.  Check.

I am all for flexibility moves, but not when they look painful- which these always did.

How can you enjoy the shape and the originality when you are worried she is suffering a neck or spinal cord injury?

I am not sure how many times I can say Puhlease!!!  Surely you can come up with a close-to-the-beam move slightly, just slightly more interesting than the sideways sit.  It kills me that you nice people are that uninspired and unoriginal that you can't at least try and think of something new.

I have decided Cheng Fei deserves some kind of medal.  Two lovely beam poses in two google image pages.  She has set some kind of record.

No crazy fingers, just a lovely body position.


No crazy ribcage thrusting (okay, the hands aren't doing anything at all right now, but the leg more than makes up for it!!)

Frankly, I don't even know why I am complaining.  I always think you shouldn't whine if you can't offer a solution.  All I can say is think outside the box people.  
Every now and then a gymnast does a move that makes me happy.  
But most of the time I just wish that some gymnasts would stop moving.  
Seriously, how many routines would be better if they cut the poses by at least half?

Also, I have a little confession to make.  You know the opening to Ana Porgras's routine?  Well, I think I kind of hate it.  It's not the forward roll or the scale I hate- I really like that.  But the bit where she pivots around in a crouch and then she kinds of crawls through, repositions her hands and goes back into scale?  I find it really, really awkward.  Okay, you can all hate me now.



  1. I have to say I hate the beam routines of the late 80's/early 90's - most people i know who watch gymnastics for fun leave the room to fix a snack/bathroom break during the beam routines because they are just all arm waving and walking from one end to the other. Personally i'm rather glad a lot of the "dance" arm waving is gone....now if I only we can convince Becca Bross that "attacking" the beam is not graceful!

  2. I see where you are coming from. But I have to say that gymnasts can combine elements in a way that makes it pretty on the beam. I guess you could call this choreo?

    In that case, wouldn't you have bars choreo? Or does that sound too silly.

    (When people start mentioning vault choreo, I will get VERY worried!)

    Anyway, one thing I wanted to say about arms is that I like it when gymnasts bend them. It gives a balletic grace to their routines. This straight arm thing doesn't look graceful. It is funny how the little things like this can make a good routine a wonderful moment that needs to be watched multiple times.

  3. The old buttshelf/finger flare...

    I totally choreographed ALL of that shit into my gymnasts' routines.

    I'm embarrassed. What a mediocre coach!


  4. I actually really love that Nastia pose! :-) Have a pic of her in her hot pink leo on my wall doing it - just love her graceful lines and flexibility... But I do agree there is far too much static posing going on with beam routines lately. Whenever I look at old skool routines what stands out is the fluidity and original movements - gymnasts dont take the time to do it anymore... shame!

  5. I'd love to see Deng Linlin and her teammates dance on beam like Yang Bo and her compatriots from the 1980s did. But here's the thing: Deng Linlin actually HITS beam most of the time. From the perspective of Chinese coaches and sports officials, the Deng Linlins are much more valuble than the Yang Bos. And yes, in a perfect world, there would be a happy medium, and China would produce someone who combines the beauty of a Yang Bo with the steadiness of a Deng Linlin or a Sui Lu. (Some of the current juniors seem to be headed in this direction, but it's too soon to say.)

    What's more, with everyone scrambling to find the eight hardest skills to count toward the D-score, who has the time? The current Code neither rewards choreography nor deducts for a lack thereof, so the incentive to include real choreo in BB routines just isn't there. Many of the Russians do attempt something akin to dance up there, but a lot of it looks like filler.

    Many of us are nostalgic for the 1970s and 1980s when artistic gymnastics was, for the most part, truly artistic. But the sad truth is that those days are long gone, and they're probably never coming back. Today's gymnastics is an entirely different sport.

  6. I dunno. I'm not a fan of random hand-faffy poses either, but I would rather see that than nothing at all.

  7. Of course we cannot speak of beam choreo is terms of floor choreo. But there should be at least some movements, gestures or poses, because there are specific deductions in the CoP for beam artistry. I agree that some of them are getting a little too old, but on the other hand it's hard to find original and appropriate ones.

    And about Ana Porgras...I also find that specific moment a bit weird. But I've gotten used to it, because the rest of her beam choreo gives a fresh feeling.

  8. It skeeves me out when girls have their mouth on the beam, ala Sac or Shayla. Like, feet go there. Not lips.

  9. I also completely agree that she is not the only culprit, but it just seemed to stick out so badly this time around...and I can't quite pin point what but my best try at explaining the difference is that she didn't even veer from a regular forward facing presentation position...she just kept her arms up and only seemed to move them in order to swing for a skill.

    I agree with Kary above that it is not so much choreo but creative transitions from one move to the next. That was definitely lacking.

  10. I always loved the chin stands, although I wish ASac would do it at 180 degrees and not 160 like she used to
    I don't think their mouths are actually on the beam, just their chins

  11. I love Nastia's kick, but agree with you on the rest. I'm also a non-fan of Porgras' mount sequence - I don't like needle scales with the torso down. They seem to be very popular right now though!

  12. I know this is an exhibition/gala routine, but I love Lilia's beam choreo here. It is very similar to her 1996 beam, but with a few amendments.


  13. Oh Cheng fei - thanks for reminding me again why she's China's most decorated gymnast and why she's my favorite. I'm sad that she most likely won't make a comeback.

    As to Deng Lin Lin, I'm in the school that isn't a stickler for choreo, but something about the way Linlin approaches beam, indeed, all her apparatus, gives off this air that she's not too sure she can do it, and she just wants to execute her elements as cleanly as possible. She doesn't chuck skills, but she doesn't make anything she does look easy either. Making the hard stuff look easy is something all great gymnasts need to learn, but hopefully she'll have that sorted by 2012.

  14. I also have always wished Porgras would do away with that crouching business; certainly someone as stylish as she could be gifted with another unusual, but beautiful, mount. She deserves it.

    I agree that with the code of pts it is very difficult to integrate choreo, but I know it could be done. I always expected that a thorough, meticulous, comprehensive perfectionist like Valeri would at least see to it that that was done (not really any point w/Brossy), but seriously wtf. Even if there's no extra credit or deductions for lack of, it could be useful. Like if in an event final everyone is hitting their 8 elements, original (and beautiful) choreo could really set someone apart.

    Great post this is; I was lmfao through a good part of it and agree w/you totally. These are very valid pts you brought up here!

  15. Your post leaves me very SAD. If the grace on Beam is not even missing, than there's no hope to bring it back.

    DLL's routine makes me cringe. I can appreciate some of Li Shanshan, cheng fei or Sui Lu's posing, but the only one that had really style, flow and grace on beam was Yang yilin in 2008:

    I'm guilty too of choreographing many things you've pointed out as not cool, ha ha...

    For those interested, there's an interesting thread for old school gymnastics called "The balance beam"...

  16. Very well said. Just recently found your blog and love it. This one hits the nail on the head. I am an old fan of gymnastics, but lately find it painful to watch and don't enjoy it much. I wonder why they don't just call a spade a spade and call it balance beam tumbling and leaping and floor tumbling and leaping and cut out the stupid posing. When I watch old gymnastics, even the gymnasts I thought of before as just tricksters look so fluid and pretty in comparison to today. A question I have, because I'm not familiar with the current code of points, is how long are the gymnasts allowed to stand still psyching themselves up to do a trick and/or resting? In the old days this was a substantial deduction, but everyone seems to do it now multiple times in every routine, so I am curious if this is no longer a deduction.