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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Braden Overett

Braden Overett
It's not easy to explain my impression of Braden Overett. During his competitive career, he was never a top skater and even failed to make it to the Nationals in some years. He was also one of the most popular skaters among the hardcore American skating fans. At 26, he won the Professional Skating Association's Choreographer of the Year award for the free program he choreographed for himself ("Pirates of the Caribbean"). He is one of the most musical skaters I have ever seen. He can catch every beat and every turn of melody with his arms and fingers and just a look. His style is, as pointed out by a friend of mine, both musical and masculine. Very, very few skaters have that.

I am almost a little ashamed to admit it, but when I first arrived I was a bit in awe of the mythical "American Youth" that swarmed the college campus. They seem to exude casual confidence, relentless optimism, and benevolent self-satisfaction that remain untroubled by the world. They walk around with a "the world is my oyster" swagger that filled my heart with envy and a twinge of bitterness, for I will never have this kind of natural confidence. 

Two decades later, my wide-eyed fascination has largely turned cynical with experience and familiarity. Perhaps all of this is mere projection of my mind, but Braden Overett still reminds me of the best kind of the mythical American Youth. He doesn't seem to work too hard, but his confidence is almost intimidating -- but then the American Youth is also sunny, personable, and easy-going. He has an abundance of brilliance, talent, and charm that move people without the obligatory achievements and success in the conventional sense. He is the kid in class who never studied but always got A in everything.

Perhaps my impression is completely wrong. Had I known him, perhaps all this silly mythologizing would have immediately evaporated. Perhaps he has plenty of struggles of his own. Who knows. Since retiring from skating, Overett did some choreography for his friend Bebe Liang but not much else. He toured with a skating company for a year in Europe. I saw him in person at this year's Nationals in San Jose, but I didn't go chat him up.

A couple of videos:
The award-winning program;
A recent piece of choreography.

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