Sufjan Stevens Pens A Quiet Melody For ‘Feisty, Fierce’ Shape Skater Tonya Harding
“I’ve been trying to create a Tonya Harding music since I first saw her skate at the U.S. Shape Skating Championships in 1991,” Sufjan Stevens writes within an essay about his new sole. Submitted for the biopic I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie (but not found in the film), this is a quintessentially silent song for a body who was “feisty, fierce, and packed with athleticism.”
Stevens loves complicated heroes who, for better or worse, represent something unmistakably American: Harding was a working-class athlete in a complex sport, and she left an impression on him for years.
“Tonya Harding’s dramatic rise and fall was fiercely followed by the press, and she rapidly became the brunt of jokes, the subject of tabloid headlines and general public outcry. She was a reality TV star before such a thing actually existed. But she was likewise simply un-categorical: American’s sweetheart with a dark twist. But I believe this is what made her hence interesting, and a true American hero. When confronted with outrage and defeat, Tonya bolstered shameless resolve and succeeded over and over with all manners of re-invention and self-perseverance. Tonya shines glowing in the pantheon of American record simply because she under no circumstances stopped hoping her hardest. She fought classism, sexism, physical abuse and general public rebuke to be an incomparable American legend.”
You can watch “Tonya Harding” set to her performance at the U.S. Shape Skating Championships in 1991 above, and pay attention to two types of the music below.