CHARLÈNE GUIGNARD AND MARCO FABBRI: IN A CLASS OF THEIR OWN
And then there’s them: Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri, a team that is so versatile and so experienced that, watching them skate, you know – they’re in a class of their own.
And this season they are taking both their dances into different directions: a distinctive air for their Latin RD (a theme which they did twice before) and a dark, intriguing free dance that has almost a gothic feel about it. Costumes, make-up, hair make for the same package – and we’re thrilled they decided to remain competitive for as long their bodies, their mind allows it.
Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri breathe an air of sophistication, undisputed elegance with their free dance – and they’re one of the teams in contention for many podiums this Olympic cycle, should they decide to stay around till Milano-Cortina.
“They can be European champions this season”, a French journalist noticed in the mixed zone while waiting for Charlène and Marco. Confronted with the idea, they smile and nod – they thought about it too. But it’s not done until it’s done, they say – they have to remain grounded, get ready, skate and who knows, they’ll see.
We know – they’re good.
And in the absence of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, and with the layers of unknown surrounding the Russian skaters this season, Charlène and Marco are the top European team. And they do skate accordingly – and receive (deservedly) big scores for the start of the season.
We talked to them right at the end of their rhythm dance that was rewarded with 87.09 points – and these scores right here are the very start of our conversation.
Your rhythm dance scores… – they’re good, right?
Marco is bursting into laughter: “Not bad, not bad! We were not expecting such a huge score at the first competition of the season, since we know there is still a lot to improve – but we are overall satisfied with the performance. It’s the start of the season, September 17, not everything is perfect – but it’s a great debut, it’s great to start the season with this boom!
It means the judges liked the program – and this is the most important feedback at the beginning of the season. I mean, we don’t really care about levels right now, because we know that we will work on that, but the most important thing at the start of the season is that judges reward your work and like the program”.
Their music choices for the rhythm dance are not the kind you would expect, they both agree – and it was indeed a challenge to find something different, after skating Latino RD-s two times before in their career.
“It’s the third season we skate on Latin, because we skated on Latin in 2012, 2018 and now… At the beginning, when we heard we would have to skate again on Latin, we were like: Hmmm, not again!
Basically, we decided to find musics which are not the typical Latin music, so the first two parts are from Grace Jones, who is not a singer who used to compose Latin music. But the rhythm is Latin: the first part is Samba, the second is Rhumba, so we were able, by selecting this music, to give a different impression to the program.
We didn’t want to just do the classical Latin moves – of course, we had to put some steps in there, but we didn’t want to build the program like that.
And then, for the last part, we just found a music that was just like pumping, because you need it! The choreo step this season is so important, because the basic level is very low, but then, with GOE-s, you can get like thousands of points! [both smiling]. So we worked a lot on that too. And seeing the scores, I think the judges liked it”.
Charlène didn’t want the typical Latino dress either – so with the help of Pinterest, but also with Barbara’s input, they put together a dress that really suits the program.
Charlène: “Again, we didn’t want the typical Latin dress – we wanted something different, not a dress that was too Latin. We wanted something that is exactly like the program”, while Marco adds: “Yes, because the first two parts of the program are more like Jungle-style, something like that”.
Asked about the free dance, a day before its debut, Marco laughs: “You don’t want to have a surprise? No, it’s ok, we can say something for sure”. And they do.
“For the free dance we also took our time to select the music – because, in our career, we have always skated on different styles, and this year we really wanted to give it a different impression as well.
After two years with the same program – because, last season, we kept the program from the Covid-year, when we just competed at Worlds; and that free dance was not… romantic, but it was sweet, it was soft – this year, we started listening to gothic-style, or dark-style music, so the feel is totally different. I don’t know why, we had a different mood when listening to the music in May or June, and so we gave a different style, in order to also be able to express something different. And so the first three minutes of the program are really dark”.
“WE DON’T WANT TO PLAN, ACTUALLY, ANYTHING!”
And then Marco hints at something on their mind while entering this season: “We always said that we are not already planning for sure to get to Milano-Cortina Olympic Games, but we are not… excluding this possibility.
And if we want to get there, we have to change something year after year. Otherwise, even the judges would get bored of our programs – so we always want to show different programs, if we want to continue”.
Listening them talking about programs, their future, one thing is sure: they are taking season by season. They don’t have a 4-year plan already made.
Marco agrees: “No, we don’t have a 4-year plan, because we are not super young anymore. Physically, we are fine, and we still want to skate, and compete, which is the most important thing, but we are not planning… We don’t want to plan, actually, anything! We want to take it year by year, giving everything we have every year…”
Charlène adds: “And this is also good for our minds, for our heads…”
Marco: “Yes, because if we start thinking: Ok, we have to skate for 4 more years… Ooh! And it’s also risky, because then you’re maybe creating expectations, or maybe you don’t give 100% every day. While right now, since we could end our career at the end of the season – maybe, who knows? I mean, we’re not planning that, but who knows – but by thinking like that, we’re still motivated.
Because we are not already thinking: I have 4 more years to skate, it’s gonna be hard! – because you will also have some bad days, when you don’t want to skate and you don’t want to make those efforts, you would prefer to stay in your house, in your apartment, drinking a tea, in front of a nice movie, instead of going to the rink and doing run-throughs. So it’s normal – and that is how we are approaching it, day by day”.
And then a question from the mixed zone that makes them smile.
A lot of us are thinking that you may become European champions this season…, while Charlène and Marco almost defend themselves: “No, no, it’s still too far to think about it”, but then, plunging into the layers of the question, Marco agrees: “I mean, of course, this was also a reason why we decided to continue – we knew that Gabriella and Guillaume would maybe have taken a year off… But I have to be honest with you: I would like to become European champion – with everyone [competing]”.
But while Europeans in Espoo still seem far away, Charlène and Marco have their eyes set on the Grand Prix Final in Turin, this December; a competition they narrowly missed last time: in 2019, they were the first alternates.
Marco: “To compete in this Final in Italy would be really great. The last time it was here, we were the first alternates, but that season in particular was really hard for us, I cut my tendon, we decided to participate still in the Grand Prix events even though I had my hand on a splint. I remember the doctors were really angry with me when I decided to go to France for the first GP assignment, because it was not totally safe to go.
This time we would like to be in the Final in Turin for sure”.
ALLISON REED AND SAULIUS AMBRULEVICIUS: SEASON OF GROWTH
One of the rhythm (street) dances that we remember from last season is definitely that skated by Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius – this season, they are taking that already acquired energy and moving it into the free. Their long program is set to Faithless’ Insomnia – the first time this piece is brought to center ice, and they are truly convincing while portraying it. Allison and Saulius finished on the second place in Bergamo, at Lombardia Trophy, and this is their season of growth.
THE TASCHLERS: NO DOUBT, THEY ARE IMPRESSIVE
Even from the 6-minute warm-ups, even from their practice sessions, Natálie Taschlerová and Filip Taschler – or the Taschlers, as they’re affectionately called – impress you with their power, their command, their edges. And their speed? Oh, my – you have to make way.
Their powerful Latino rhythm dance is one thing, but they did choose something different for their free, going with a contemporary topic of concern: climate change. So you hear the news anchors talking, hear the waves, see the sea, the nature, and the ice. You see them embody all of those, and decide they are ready to literally take the dancing world by storm. They finished third in Bergamo.
[Story by Florentina Tone
Photos by Alberto Ponti, Florentina Tone, Wilma Alberti/Bergamo]