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Yuna Kim's Galas

Updated on May 5, 2020


Why another performance after competition?

After a fierce, heated competition, and as a smoke of dust has settled in the battle field, players ready themselves to go home, take a shower and hit the sack. But figure skaters have one more thing to do before they pack up for home: gala. In a gala exhibition you don't have to worry about points, requirement, or jumps; You just skate to your heart's content however you see it fit. Gala enables skaters to turn their artistic ambitions to a reality in front of live audience without rules or restrictions. In some sense, gala analogically reflects the birth of free skating in the compulsory time. You take time to show what you are capable of with your skating skills and training.

Why such an exhibition is needed even after the competition is over? For what? Is it that all you wanted was medals? Is it that skaters want to celebrate winners in a different way than other sports or figure skaters are particularly vain to show off what they can do with their skills? We wouldn't know for sure which of them mentioned above are some of the reasons or which are not, but for some unknown reasons, there has been a long tradition for gala where skaters put out another event for the audience after the competition, and it has been closely tied with the evolutionary path of figure skating. Free skating was originally added as a supplement to compulsories. Contrary to compulsories that discipline skaters to learn how to use their edge skills by which to draw geometric "figures", free skating allows them to express their skating ability freely, not limited to drawing "figures". So, from the beginning, people were well aware of the limit of compulsory, and perhaps subconsciously felt the need to compensate for what compulsories was missing out, and free skating is a means to gauge the extended capacity of figure skating that might have evaded compulsories.



Kim held up her arms high mimicking a puppet whose members are stringed up to the air. It's too easy to mistake the message. An interesting start. Kim's state of being bound, which obviously makes her moves look stiff and somewhat robotic, announces a plot familiar to some of us: a freedom, whether for the protagonist or Kim, needs to be resolved, and the moment the puppet shakes all invisible strings off her body, she is transformed into a new self, enlivened and proactive, as she sped up to the next move.

In this modern, electo-zany upbeat piece, Kim explores her dancing potential conveniently coupled with her skating skills. She applies modern dance moves to the choreography to draw out synchronized musical interpretations. Her extended lines and sophisticated moves makes it look so easy for anyone to do, but ultimately it's not Kim's dancing skill, but her mastery in skating that enables her to execute and incorporate those moves into skating. Dick Button once said in an interview, skating is not all about jump; it is skaters' move on ice that determines the level of skaters. Indeed, Kim possesses extraordinary degree of bodily freedom on ice.

All of Me

All of Me

The idea is brilliant. Instead of a classic rendering of skating femininity Yuna Kim chose to be asexual or transgender in this gala. Her ever expressive glow has never faded, not a bit. Versatile as ever, Kim again tries a new thing, brushing off jumps. Well, some might say she should have included them. But come to think of it, jumps can be a distraction. It's an out of the box thinking. It's hard, though, to say, "Well, I will try without jumps because they serve little here." while everybody thinks jumps should be there because that's how they have been doing.

I like her decision to leave them out of her gala. More often than not skaters jump not because it serves the performance well, or is the best vehicle to represent particular messages at the point but because that's how they been doing or nothing else seems available. In this comic presentation about a loser and his internal anxiety over being dumped by his girlfriend, Kim looks cool and dandy in that suit with a loosen tie. Her acting appears in a master's demo.

Yuna Kim's Don't stop the Music

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Don't Stop the Music

Yuna Kim knows how to dance. Everybody knows that. In this gala, Kim skated as if she were balancing her skates on dancer's floor. Kim's techno rendition of Rihanna singing and dancing in a nightclub, could be her personal take. After all, she shows such a knack for dancing and singing; she could have made herself a fine dancer. This gala presents a technical difficulty almost equivalent of that of real competition. Truth be told, I am not a big fan of this R rated music at the time as the title indicates. Maybe I am too used to those classic pieces, cut and dried.

Yuna Kim's Meditation


There is a classic image tied with female figure skating. Something of a classic beauty. Since figure skating is a sport that pursues aesthetics, when it comes to a classic model of beauty, we tend to be reminded of something feminine or lyrical. So, it is not surprising that Kim also chose music like Meditation or Gold for her gala. Fittingly so, Kim's Meditation well draws a lyrical side out of Kim's musical reservoir.

By the way, I once expressed, after Kim had popped the first jump in the 2010 Olympic gala, a hope that Kim's Meditation be rearranged in choreography. In the gala, her first jump was triple lutz, if my memory is correct, which I thought that it disrupted the flow of the program. Typically Lutz takes more time for preparation than other jumps. In fact, not just lutz, but all triple jumps, though great to look, tend to disrupt rather than integrate into the program. That's what jumps do to skating though. Anyway, Kim later changed that to salchow.


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