@fireovertheice: Okay, I've managed to force myself to rewatch Nathan's LP from fancam, and went even better-I grabbed my mother (who actually did practice ballet) to sit down and watch with me and discuss.
To begin my discussion, I would prefer that people actually go check out the wikipedia entries on both the story of Mao's Last Dancer (movie and book), and the entry on Li Cunxin, the dancer. To preface my analysis and explain my conclusion, I might need to explain a bit about the 1950's and the cultural revolution. If you want to skip the political/history stuff, skip to the end as I'll do the backstory in spoiler tags.
To me, the music cuts and the story of Mao's last dancer itself, is a story of hope and triumph against despair. Where for the dancer in the story, ballet was transformative, and a savior against the dark circumstances of his life. That's the overarching theme I get from the music. For Nathan's performance, my question for him would be, "Is figure skating for you, what ballet was for this protagonist?" Or even, "Can you comprehend and express what ballet was for this person?" And in reply to that, no, in that performance, I don't think Nathan showed that he understood the music, nor the program, and least of all the idea that ballet was the lone hope for that dancer.
When watching with my mother, she only liked that one lone 4 Salchow that he landed. The rest she said, he looked like he'd fall at any time. About 30 seconds in she even said, "This guy can't possibly have gotten on the podium." She also commented that his body is too stiff, and voiced absolute surprise that he ever did ballet. Then flat out said, "Must not have been a good dancer then."
Both of us thought there was a disconnect with the music-she thought the choreography wasn't good. According to her, he kept the same pace, the same mood regardless of how the music changed. When the music is soft and expansive, he didn't relax nor extend himself to match the softness. This is in great contrast to skaters like Yagudin, Plushenko, whose movements (even if not pretty) were in sync with the mood of the music-they engage and pull you in for the ride. When the music hits a climax pace, Nathan's pace didn't change. In her words, "The music is pushing you to a climax, and your mood does hit the climax, but then you watch him and the mood deflates like a popped balloon and you want to ask him why are you so nonchalant." As for the soft, melodic sections, his movements didn't match that- pity for the lone spread eagle, there were a couple places where an ina bauer, inside spread eagle which is less taxing, or a spiral would have done wonders. But that might tire him out for the jumps right? But the jumps themselves, also had times where they were discordant with the music, especially during the softer sections as his jumps do not have good flow. Never mind the soft knees and arms needed.
Personally, if it had to be skated at this Olys cycle, I think the program may have been more fitting for Yuzu, Jason, Boyang even. I don't think Nathan at this time in his life, views skating the way the dancer viewed ballet to express the music to the full. I'll just end with this line my mom gave, as her general impression of the piece:
"There are 2 types of ballet dancers. First type of dancer is someone who really likes it, and even when they are having a bad day, that passion comes through and makes up for any deficiencies in their technique that day. The Second type of dancer is someone who picked up ballet for various reasons, whether just following someone's footsteps, or because it pays the bills or something, when they are careful and focusing they can do well, but when they have an off day there's nothing there. He (Nathan) seems to be having an off day, and he is the second type of dancer."
So scoring wise:
-SS, TR: 8.25
-IN, PE, CO: 7.75, 8.0, 8.0
Total: 40.25, aka 80.5 for the LP PCS. Fair enough?