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Timothy Dolensky: Pianist/Composer (& Junior Grand Prix Skater)

Posted by unseenskaters on September 2, 2011

19-year-old Timothy Dolensky is representing the USA in Riga, Latvia, this week, his second ISU Junior Grand Prix competition in two years. Sylvia was very impressed to learn that he both composed and performed his own music for his short program this season and wanted to know more about his background in music and the back story of his composition. Tim graciously elaborated on these topics and more via e-mail.

On his Junior Grand Prix debut in Sheffield, England last year where he finished 4th:
England was SO much fun last year. I would say that it was the highlight of my life so far. Probably the best part was when they announce your name as “representing the United States….” instead of your club. At that moment you realize that this is the real deal. It didn’t add any pressure when they announced my name like that, I felt more proud and in the mindset of “all right watch what we Americans can do” kind of thing. 🙂 The whole trip was so fun and I made lots of new friends. It was fun rooming with Josh Farris, who is a good friend of mine.

On his experience at the Eastern Sectional Championships in November 2010 (5th place finish in Junior Men, 1st alternate to 2011 U.S. Nationals):
At sectionals my back [injury] had escalated to its worst. It started after I got back from England and it got progressively worse through regionals and then sectionals. I wouldn’t say that was the primary reason why my skate at sectionals was not good. Although it hurt during the practices, during competition I didn’t really feel it at all, probably because of the adrenaline. So I didn’t think that was the primary reason I competed badly. But it did mess with my head a little bit and it didn’t allow me to train as hard as I wanted to before sectionals. I do best when I can rely on good training and I wasn’t able to do that as much at sectionals. After that I took lots of time off and started physical therapy for it.

On his musical background:
I started piano first at 6 years old when I lived in Alabama. I took lessons at the Montessori school that I went to. When I moved to Georgia (we moved at the end of 1999), my Dad found the piano teacher that I take from now and I’ve been with him ever since. He is a very good teacher and musician. He also understands my commitment to skating and is always interested in my competitions.

I started violin in 6th grade at the start of middle school. I noticed right away that I was pretty good at it and by the end of 7th grade I was taking private lessons for violin as well. I continued to play in my high school orchestra (I stopped taking private lessons in 10th grade because it was starting to get too much between piano, violin, skating, and school). Those were some of my greatest high school memories. Playing in the orchestra was SO much fun for me and I made most of my greatest friends there. It was one of the reasons that I really wanted to stay in public school all the way through high school.

On how a piece he composed became his short program music for this season:
The whole story behind the music is that it kind of started out as just a little project that [my coach] Debbie suggested. It was during the winter last year and I had just come off the disappointment of not making nationals. It was just to get me working on a project of some sort to get me thinking ahead and not dwelling on sectionals. I wanted to make it a slower piece because I usually am more relaxed with slower music and having struggled with the short last year and Debbie and I thought that a slower short would give me the best chance for better shorts this year. At that point I wasn’t seriously planning on saying that this piece that I will write will be my short program. I wrote it so that it could be used in that way if it ended up being good enough.

After it was finished (after I had recorded it with strings and everything) I thought that it was pretty good and that was when I seriously started to think that I could use it for a short program. I sent it to [choreographer] Catarina Lindgren in Colorado Springs for her to listen to because I was going to go there on my spring break in March and have her choreograph both of my programs. She asked that I email her my music. She was was impressed and said that it was good but she said that she thought that it needed a more dramatic beginning, because originally I just had it start right into the soft melody. At first I was a little defiant because I thought that it was already fine the way it was. But I wrote the intro that I use now (the music where I am in my flying sit at the beginning) and I liked the idea of it. I like the concept of having a little tension in the beginning and then the release that the rest of the music gives.

The reason why I was having trouble with a title was because I sat down and wrote the music first. I wasn’t inspired by an outside visual source. For example my piano teacher also writes music and while he was in Maine visiting a lake, he like the way that the light hit the water in the morning and he decided to write a song that sounded like what that would look like. My piece wasn’t like that at all. I just sat down at the piano and over the course of a week or two composed something that I liked. I decided on the title “Windfall” because it reminded me of the wind the way it’s constantly moving and flowing. And the beginning is kind of like the tail end of a storm that turns into a beautiful day. Also it actually goes along with my outfit as well because it has a big swoosh on the front that could symbolize wind. And then I thought instead of “rainfall” I liked the idea of “windfall”. Because that’s what it sounds like. A fall of wind.

Click here to watch Tim’s short program performance in Latvia (4th place) to the piece he composed and played/orchestrated!

On his Latin medley free skate:
The first section of my long uses the Main Title track from the Havana film soundtrack by Dave Grusin. The second cut in my long is “Passion” by Gipsy Kings from the Volare! The Very Best of the Gipsy Kings album, and the third cut is “Vamos a Bailar” by the Gipsy Kings from the Mosaique album. I don’t think it’s a stretch to skate to this music for me because I’ve done similar pieces in the past (“Zorro” in novice, and “Flamenco” by Didyulia, also in novice) and I really have fun getting into the Latin vibe.

Click here to watch Tim’s free skate performance in Latvia (3rd place & bronze medal!)

On his primary coach, Debbie Prachar:
Debbie is an absolutely fantastic coach. She’s tough when when she needs to be, caring, considerate, and always there to talk. The best way I can describe it is having been with her since I moved to Atlanta, she is like a second mom to me. I can always share any thoughts or feelings with her whether it’s skating, school, or any part of my personal life. She really knows skating and the way that she coaches works really well for me. She taught me how to recognize what exactly it is that I’m doing whether that be good or bad. I feel that she balances being tough on me and friendly with me very well.

On his current college studies:
I go to Kennesaw State University [in Kennesaw, Georgia] right down the road from my house and the rink. I am only there part time (I only do 2 classes a semester) but I really wanted to keep up school. I thought it was better to do something rather than nothing and 6 or 7 hours of classes a semester is easily manageable with skating. I had planned on being a music major there (the music program is really good there) and I even auditioned and was accepted but when it came time to go over all of the curriculum I quickly realized that there was no way for me to skate and to be a music major at the same time. I couldn’t just go at my own pace with that major because as a school of music, they had standards that they had to keep so I had to do it all or not at all. It was hard for me but I decided not to enroll as a music major. Then just last semester I declared my major as Exercise and Health Science (which is what my [other] coach Brittney Bottoms did at the same school). After being in physical therapy all winter and spring for my back, I thought that being a physical therapist was something that I was interested in. And that major I can go as slow as fast as I want.

On his second JGP experience in two years:
My goals in Latvia are to skate how I know that I can skate, and to control the things that I can control.

Click here to view Tim’s Team USA bio on IceNetwork and more facts about him.

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One Response to “Timothy Dolensky: Pianist/Composer (& Junior Grand Prix Skater)”

  1. Vlad said

    I was impressed by his performances in Riga! Big potential and wonderful artistry!

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