Yuzuru Hanyu inspires ballet and piano tributes, and meets Alysa Liu

Japan's double Olympic champion has become a muse to artists in the fields of dance and music as well as figure skating.

Yuzuru Hanyu continues to leave his mark on the world of figure skating, and beyond.

Japan's double Olympic gold medallist is currently recovering from the ankle injury which ended his 2018-19 season prematurely.

But he remains an inspiration to people across the globe.

While the two-time World Champion prepares for his next move on the rink, leaders in other artistic forms have been emulating his brilliance in a variety of ways.

Hanyu - The Ballet?

Next month, the Kansas-based Crescendo Conservatory dance studio will perform a ballet version of Hanyu's exhibition routine 'Notte Stellata' at the Future Stages Festival in Missouri, USA.

Company owner Christina Valdez (@cvdnce) is also its artistic director and choreographer, and told Japan Times how she became a fan during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games where Hanyu retained his men's singles title.

"We watched his short program and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness. What is this? I have never seen anything like this before.'" - Crescendo Conservatory owner Christina Valdez on her first sight of Yuzuru Hanyu at PyeongChang 2018

When ballet meets figure skating

Describing her family as "not very sports-minded", Valdez said, "I was coming home from teaching a dance class and my 16-year-old daughter said, ‘Hey, I would like to watch the Olympics. There is a rock star Japanese figure skater I think you would really like.'

"Then we watched his short program and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness. What is this? I have never seen anything like this before.'

“I thought he must be an accomplished ballet dancer who also skates. That was my first assumption just based on his port de bras (carriage of the arms), carriage of the body."

"He moves like a ballet dancer. I thought he was classically trained. It doesn’t matter, he is natural, so it’s beautiful."

Valdez was also impressed with his sportsmanship in victory adding, "We just loved what we saw with from his relationship with Shoma (Uno) and Javi (Fernandez). I thought they were rivals and didn’t understand why they were all hugging and so happy.

"My daughter said, 'No. They are friends in addition to being rivals.'"

Valdez soon became a fully-fledged 'Fanyu' and has one great wish.

"I told my husband, 'I don’t want any gifts for the rest of my life. All I want is to be able to go see Yuzu skate sometime in my lifetime.' That would be just so incredible."

She has also carried that adoration into her professional career and now has her students performing a piece based on Hanyu's gala performance at PyeongChang.

The Crescendo Conservatory will perform 'Notte Stellata' at Kansas City's Kauffman Performing Arts Center on 16 June.

Inspired artist inspires

'Notte Stellata' is a song performed by the Italian opera-pop trio Il Volo based on a work by the French composer Camille Saint-Saens.

Hanyu's routine was choreographed by David Wilson.

Valdez said, "I absolutely love ‘Notte Stellata’ and the music. I love what he did with it. I especially love his sense of musicality. He lands on the end of his jumps from a phrase and it really speaks to me in a way that I choreograph.

"We are having a dance recital this year, and my business partner and I decided that the theme would be 'The Artist - Inspired'. And I thought what inspires me now is Yuzu and his figure skating,"

"So I thought, let’s do a Notte tribute to Yuzu and that’s kind of how it got started. So I watched ‘Notte Stellata’ like 500 times."

Moran's Musical Tribute

[Kelly Moran](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KellyMoran(musician) is a leading experimental pianist based in Brooklyn, New York.

She is also a huge Hanyu fan.

Moran has release a new selection of songs entitled 'Origin', the same name as Hanyu's free skate from the 2018-19 season.

According to Warp records, 'Origin' is a tribute to "the drive, determination and perseverance of Yuzuru Hanyu, the world-renowned figure skater from Japan who Moran considers one of her idols".

Home honour in Sendai

Last month, Hanyu returned home to Sendai for a special ceremony.

A new glass monument celebrating his Olympic gold from PyeongChang was unveiled on 20 April with Hanyu happy to adopt his famous 'Seimei' free skate pose for the cameras.

It now stands in front of International Center Station alongside one celebrating his Sochi gold, and another marking fellow Sendai native Shizuka Arakawa's 2006 ladies' singles title in Torino.

Despite spending most of the year in Canada with coach Brian Orser, Hanyu retains close ties to his homeland.

In 2011, he was training at his home rink in Sendai when the earthquake struck.

He did not even have time to put skate guards on his blades as he fled the rink which soon collapsed behind him.

With his home badly damaged, and more flooding likely, he and his family had to take shelter in a school hall.

A month later, he took part in a fundraiser for those affected by the quake and resulting tsunami.

The wreckage to the ice rink saw Hanyu move to Yokohama to train, before joining up with Orser in Toronto in April 2012.

He dedicated his gold medal at Sochi 2014 to the people of Sendai and, speaking at the ceremony last month, said he hoped to inspire future generations.

"It would bring me joy to see more children start figure skating." - Yuzuru Hanyu speaking in Sendai in April 2019

Meeting of champions

Since returning to Canada, Hanyu has also met US ladies' singles figure skating champion Alysa Liu.

The 13-year-old prodigy went to Toronto to work with specialist harness jump coach Geoffrey Dionisio as she works on adding quads to her repertoire.

At the end of the week, she posed for a photo with figure skating's most recognisable star.

He might be resting that ankle, but Hanyu is certainly keeping himself busy!

Enjoyed this story? Share it with your friends!