Ice dancing tried to get pissed off. Things got weird.

BEIJING — When the International Skating Union tasked ice dancers with performing “street dance rhythms” for the first leg of the ice dancing competition, it was an invitation to disaster.

Skaters have stumbled a lot over the years navigating between the official rules of the sport, its unspoken mores and the limits of good taste; many others found the experience difficult.

At its lowest, there was a year when the siblings had to tango, then adopt a “folk dance” theme in which a Russian couple performed in what they thought was native face paint.

But 2022 was special for the contortions needed to execute a defined pattern known as Midnight Blues over music “like hip hop, disco, swing, krump, popping, funk, etc.), jazz, reggae (reggaeton) and blues. ”

And the easiest way to see the awkwardness of an institution co-opting a fundamentally subversive genre of music was in the ISU’s warning to competitors: “Note: In keeping with the ethical values ​​of sport, any music chosen for ice dance competitions must not include aggressive and/or offensive lyrics.

All of this was showcased at the “rhythm dance” event on Saturday. But it is an easily understandable tension in the country hosting the Games.

Although not yet mainstream, rap is growing in popularity in China, especially among young people. An American Idol-style TV show titled “The Rap of China” has racked up billions of views since its debut in 2017.

For a while, many Chinese rappers were inspired by their American ancestors. One example is “The Luxury Life,” Chen Jiashen’s song featured on a 2018 episode of “Silicon Valley.” continue to name a famous Chinese actress they covet.

But that year, China’s ruling Communist Party weighed in. The Global Times, an official party newspaper, criticized PG One, which won the first season of “The Rap of China”, for “its sexist lyrics full of dirty talk and drug implications”. use.”

The publication said black Americans use rap to rebuke social injustice. “But when hip hop landed in China, hip hop skipped the hard part to become a commercial product,” the Global Times said. “Nobody can transplant a cactus in Siberia or move polar bears to the equator.”

PG One songs have been removed from Chinese streaming platforms. Later articles from the Global Times said that Chinese rap in the future would demonstrate positive energy.

Last year, a Chinese entertainment company had 100 hip-hop artists collaborate on a patriotic rap song to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party. “New China must light up”, sings a rapper.

“We don’t have to tell American stories, rather we should tell our Chinese stories,” said Chen, a 29-year-old baby-faced young man who was a runner-up on the first season of “The Rap of China.” and goes by the stage name After Journey.

He said one of his favorite recent songs is “Grapevine under the Trellis,” which features elements of traditional Xinjiang music and has little in common with his piece “Silicon Valley.”

To compete for an Olympic medal, these ice dancers found their own way of being just enough pissed off – which for many, dressed in black mitts, leather and harnesses, meant making sure they weren’t not alone.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates skate in the rhythm dance during the US Figure Skating Championships.


Photo:

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Some really pushing boundaries, at least of some sort. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France were wild and take first place heading into Monday’s free dance. They excitedly explained how they wanted to pay homage to a dance style popularized in queer clubs in the 1970s, in what is Cizeron’s first Olympic run as an openly gay man.

Billie Eilish was also spotted, who lives dangerously for ice dancing. “I didn’t know I could ever pull off Billie Eilish,” said Madison Chock from the United States, who runs the program with partner Evan Bates. They were fourth, while Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States were third.

But a lot of the music choices were less hip hop and more pop, with a beat, if that. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, for the ROC, used Joe Cocker and were in second place. Compatriots Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin relied on the Backstreet Boys, and finished fifth.

And China’s Wang Shiyue and 12th-placed Liu Xinyu deployed the most provocative and outrageous artist of an era, if that era was 1956. They skated to “Trouble” and “Blue Suede Shoes” from Elvis Presley.

—Qianwei Zhang contributed to this article.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at [email protected] and Stu Woo at [email protected]

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