Culp’s Letter (number six): The World of Style

August 20th, 2010 by Donna Culp


August 20, 2010 by Donna Culp Culp’s Letter (number five): The World of Style

Even as I try to write blogs for “the world of style”— my all-time favorite topic—I fear that I’m not as organized as some of you. In this case, I’m 99 percent sure to make improvement, IF you don’t take so long to answer.

Yes, I am crazy about you, and I want your names posted on my blog. ARE YOU READY?
With my request in mind and ten fingers on the keyboard, I am here to lay down some really good questions. Except instead of my answer (or opinion), I’m looking for yours. And even one comment that you send to me— or ten, I read them all.

What’s your take on choreography? Some say it’s the big thing.

What kind of music fits a gymnast without musicality? Don’t answer, none!

What’s hot for a floor-routine? I’m big on cool-looking floor patterns.

What do you call a creative risk in choreography? (Hint: Stretch the imagination.)

What would people say about your gymnast’s choreography? “You wow.”

How many times do you decide to start a new routine—2 years on a single routine?

What key features do you take note when it comes to a “great routine?”

How many times do you decide to start a new routine—2 years on a single routine?

What would be a dream-gymnast for a choreographer?

What makes a routine an art form?

Culp’s Letter (number five): The World of Style

January 14th, 2010 by Donna Culp

img_0351.JPGI dare you to not love gymnastics if you coach, or you’re a choreographer (!), but I have never really asked a gymnast, What do you love about gymnastics? So I asked them. Tiny pre-optional kids and lovely compulsory girls as well as highly competitive optional gymnasts—the cream of the crop. Their answers were wonderfully simple. I pulled together ten favorites this year directly from answers I received in my GUTS workshops.

gymnast’s answer
What we love about artistic gymnastics?

1. Sometimes a boy says things about my muscles, and always I win in arm wrestling.
2. Trampolines are so cool.
3. When it comes to the Olympics, it’s not the thing that matters; it’s okay for me to say that, right?
4. Life without gymnastics wouldn’t be as fun.
5. This year with our meet schedule—we go to Disney World. Never been before.
6. I make a big deal out of getting tricks. My coach takes this very serious too.
7. I love the vault, bars, beam, and floor — beam is risky.
8 . What do you mean love?
9. Gymnastics comes a little early in the morning, so homeschool is nice!
10. I have the world’s best friends.


Culp’s Letter (number four): The World of Style

October 8th, 2009 by Donna Culp


Culp’s Letter (number four): The World of Style
October 8, 2009
by Donna Culp

I’m the sort of choreographer who is convinced all coaches are choreographers. But getting them to see that will not only be my biggest challenge ever— but also why I created the STYLE ROPE.

Back in my pre-STYLE ROPE days, I would freelance a choreography job, and, as is the case for many choreographers preparing for the challenge of creating routines, the coach would have briefed me on the gymnast. So before the start of the routine, I’d listen and have a better idea of what might work with the gymnast’s body. As the coach described the gymnast, always there were three types:

1. There was the “boxy” gymnast: she had the shape that tends to look like a boy. (But that is actually the girl with big-ticket tumbling just waiting to be artistic.)
2. There was also the “trickster” kid: she had the cool eye-popping elements to suit our Code of Points. On the down side: too sloppy, too wobbly, too loose.
3. And there was the “dancer.” Ugh, I’d think: “dancer” can mean ANYTHING. Anything from the reckless-unflattering to the ballet-costume thing, or the kind of dancing that doesn’t work aside from those mirror ballet-barre rooms in gyms.

Once the coach had drawn a picture for me, I’d hear the music played from the loud-speaker and, luckily, it wasn’t a movie tune. In fact, it was pretty darn good. Until, that is, the gymnast articulated her own idea of herself—not boxy, not trickster, not dancer.
“I can’t dance,” she said shamefully, dropping her head down and looking at her feet, causing the coach to panic. Oddly enough, the gymnast doesn’t look up for another ten minutes. Who knew that she would decide to check out at the beginning of a choreography session?
So I decided to bring out the STYLE ROPE I had been carrying on this particular trip. The STYLE ROPE frames and supports the gymnast so she gets to work her body beyond what she’d normally perform. Then the next thing, I choose a few of my favorite drills. I went through a number of reshaping drills to maximize the volume of her movement and the speed and line of her actions. She doesn’t shy away from anything!
Something is working— because before the clock has even passed ten minutes, it’s evident all things are possible. One of the coolest things about working with the STYLE ROPE is you don’t have to push-pull gymnasts into overtime to develop the extraordinary line—stability, dynamics, and poise that it takes to ascend to the class of “artistic.”
At the end of the day, I felt that we rocked this routine, causing the three of us to look forward to a high score! As the coach was about to take me to the airport, he asked the question “What’s in that rope?” My answer: Hope. Because, in my opinion, that’s a “product” every coach needs.

Those of you who want to view Donna Culp’s STYLE ROPE drills, purchase your DVD (at $29.95) from GymSmarts.