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Johnny Weir: A Fallen Angel Rising

When Johnny Weir met Canadian choreographer David Wilson for the first time last May there was an instant chemistry.

Weir had long admired Wilson’s choreographic creations and when he asked Wilson to craft his new programs for the upcoming season Wilson jumped at the opportunity. “I was excited to work with Johnny. I thought we could do something great but the end results were far beyond anything I ever expected,” Wilson said.

It was also an enlightening journey for Weir. “Working with David was a really enriching experience. He is such a gifted person and I was thrilled that he gave me the opportunity to work with him,” Weir said. “I'm so happy I made a good decision when choosing him to help create my Olympic dream.

“I had high expectations of working with him, and he met every single one,” Weir said. “David is a very artistic person and working with him, throwing ideas back at one another during the process, was such a fantastic way to get our work done.

“There was nothing too outrageous, too simple or too chic. Everything was a proper evaluation between the two of us and I think both programs have come out strong because of our combined artistic balance."

Never having worked with a non-Russian choreographer Weir said he had no idea what to expect. “I was anticipating a lot of differences in method. The Russian way is very structured and almost rigid in the idea and style you can present, but with David it was very organic and free flowing,” Weir said.

“I was a little uncomfortable the first few sessions because I was used to being told yes or no on a certain move right away, but David likes to let things gel and after a few days make a decision on whether to keep the movement or trash it.”

Weir’s short program is to a Spanish theme. “The music for the short program is very strong and sexual in nature, and a bit cheeky,” Weir said. "David and I came up with the name for the music 'I Love You, I Hate You,' because that title absolutely suits the character, better than the actual music title. The piece is by Raul DiBlasio."

The long program is something he envisioned a long time ago. “I found the slow part of the music a few years ago and have been in love with it ever since but David and his musical technician Hugo Chouinard built a free program around the concept I had for a ‘Fallen Angel.’ The music is very special and was built from the ground up by David and Hugo.

“They both worked so hard to make my vision a reality, complete with amazing music. Both programs are very special and I think they have the possibility of becoming signature pieces for me.”

Weir is thrilled that Wilson has become a part of his life and his Olympic journey. “I will do my best to make him proud of the creations we crafted,” Weir said, “and I feel added pressure to work very hard to not let the programs, or David, down.”

POP STAR ON ICE

Weir said he is thrilled with the reception the documentary about his life "Pop Star on Ice" is receiving. "I wasn't sure how well a figure skating documentary would go over in this day and age, but I think the film has a little something for everyone and that's why it is doing so well," he said. "I am still shocked about a rave review in Variety which is basically Hollywood's morning paper.

"When I met Lady Gaga she expressed interest in seeing the film too. It's a very exciting time for me with the Olympic season approaching, and a hit summer film to boot. I also have loved getting decked out for the premieres I was able to attend in Manhattan and Philadelphia and I'm looking forward to being at the Brooklyn screening as well."

When asked what he learned about himself while filming the documentary, Weir spoke openly. "I learned a lot actually. I have learned that I have limits being in front of a camera, especially on a bad day when I don't want to see anybody or be seen for that matter," he said. "I learned that I'm a bit more of a brat than I gave myself credit for. I was a real jerk to Priscilla (Hill) in the closing months of our (training) relationship.

"I also learned that I am a very talented figure skater, but a lazy one at that. Those moments when I was crying or slacking off could have been spent working and who knows, perhaps I'd have more than one world medal.

"When the producers (James Pellerito and David Barba) started to film with Galina in New Jersey for the reality show, you can see a different Johnny, not being lazy. Galina (Zmievskaya) puts her iron fist down and kicks my butt every day, lovingly of course.

"I have learned through the whole thing, that I live a strange life, fabulous in bits and a catastrophe comes shortly after. Overall, my life is much like in the film. It isn't always glamorous."

MOVING FORWARD

The 2008 World bronze medalist is not letting a disappointing showing at the 2009 U.S. National Championships that left him off the World team dampen his Olympic dreams. “I have not lost confidence in the fact that I am one of the best male skaters right now,” Weir said. “I am kind of tired of people of saying to me like that I had this giant disaster, that I wasn’t focused, that I wasn’t training and all of these things. All that happened was that I got sick at an inconvenient time.”

Missing the cut for the 2009 World team may have been a blessing in disguise. “I got to sit back, re-evaluate what I wanted to do in my career,” Weir said. “Nothing has been easy for me outside of the fact that I was able to jump as soon as I got on the ice. That was the easiest part of my career. I have had to fight tooth and nail for everything I have achieved.

“I definitely do not feel like I am in a situation where I have to prove myself. I am a proven skater. I competed very consistently last year. I have no issues. I think as long as I am prepared this summer and am in good shape and everything works out with my equipment and everything goes right, then there should not be any problems.”

Weir will kick off the upcoming season and his two Grand Prix assignments, Rostelecom Cup in Russia and NHK Trophy in Japan.

He admitted he was happy that a fellow American, Evan Lysacek, won the 2009 World title. “Evan and I kind of buried our hatchets before Worlds and I was very supportive of him,” Weir said. “Of course I was very jealous that he was able to be the World champion. But this year I want to come out on top and I don’t want to have to think about Evan Lysacek.”

Stay tuned!


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