Carriage. What is carriage? Carriage encompasses a lot of things, and is a little hard to really pin down and squash into a precise definition. For me, carriage is holding yourself correctly. Poise. Fluidity of movement. Grace and elegance in limb and head movement. It is utter awareness of everything your body is doing. It is long lines. Excellent posture. It is toepoint, attention to things like fingers. It is not expression or ability to dance and it certainly is not artistry as a whole.
It's important. A gymnast with good carriage makes for a pleasant viewing experience. It's something you see straight away, they either have it or they don't, it tends not to be something you only pick up on over time or after watching high quality videos.
Russian gymnasts have good to excellent carriage as a whole. It's emphasised in their training from a young age and it shows instantly, coming across even in photos. Chinese gymnasts have it more often than not. Romanian gymnasts don't have it more often than not. Americans with good carriage are thin on the ground and tend not to rise to the top. Kyla Ross whilst showing gorgeous long lines and form, does not have it. She is very stiff in her upper body. I'm not picking on her because I'm not a fan of her, but because her lines tend to mask this so she makes a better example than Simone Biles who also does not have it.
Having good carriage is great. It sets a gymnast apart straight away and makes them worth watching. It's one of the things the Soviets were so excellent at and is one aspect of that training that lives on in Round Lake today.
It is not everything. It's not even everything when we think about artistry. Expression, dance ability, choreography and performance are HUGE aspects of artistry. A gymnast who holds herself like a Bolshoi ballet dancer and moves accordingly is of no interest if she flops around with pathetic arm waving or has deplorable tumbling technique. Or numerous other significant faults. Carriage does not carry these things. Give me Claudia Fragapane and her complete lack of carriage and even lines thanks to her height rather than a dull, arm flailing spectacle complete with breathing like a bull in the corners and shoddy tumbling any day.
Here's what I mean.
Good carriage and lines. But she may as well be sleeping for the amount of performance quality and expression on display here and her dance is extremely lacklustre as a result. I have zero interest in watching this again. There are better examples and I'm sure I could find one with more time.
See how she glides, exudes bundles of Soviet goodness and elegance with every movement AND expresses. And dances. She would still be great without the carriage. It lifts her, but she has a lot of other positives going on.
General lack of carriage and lines going on here. And yet, it's wonderful. It's artistic. She is so into her dance and performs it so well. The music goes with her, it's not a totally unrelated background noise. This is WHY the overemphasis on carriage at the expense of other vital artistic components is so irritating.
Who cares so much about carriage? Some factions on the gymternet hold it in high esteem. Well and good. It is a great plus to someone's gymnastics. It is when its importance is inflated and gymnasts who don't possess it are completely denigrated when it becomes a problem for me. Look back to the glory days of gymnastics all you want. I love doing that. Prefer one style of gymnastics over the other all you want. But running other great gymnasts down and in a constant fashion, however impressive, however otherwise artistic because they don't hold themselves in a certain way sucks. I don't respect other opinions when they don't offer the same courtesy.
In other news, I flew back last night and highly resented getting up at 6AM this morning for work. I'm sure that came across here nicely.
Have you noticed this attitude too? The athletic gymnastic slandering and utter forgiveness of bad routines once the particular gymnast is elegant? When am I going to get a chance to watch the prelims streams back?