Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Bolero Anniversary

This month, it will be 25 years since Torville and Dean unveiled their classic ice dance 'Bolero' and went on to win Olympic Gold in Sarajevo in 1984.

I first came across Torville and Dean when they danced 'Mack and Mabel' in 1982:

Even though I was totally rubbish at ice skating (and even got my nose broken by someone else's flailing arm on one occasion) I had followed the Olympic performances of John Curry and Robin Curry but my favourite was always the pairs figure skating. However, ice dancing - and particularly Torville and Dean - was totally different. There were rules that stipulated, amongst other things, that you couldn't do certain lifts - I think the male partner couldn't lift his arms above his head to elevate the woman.

More than anything, the T&D routines appealled because, instead of being three separate and unconnected pieces of music, their choices were the catchiest tunes taken from established musical tales and had so many intricate little movements at which you just couldn't help but smile. Skating sequences that had never been seen in traditional pairs skating, performed with a warmth and emotion that showed the very stark contrast between the two disciplines.

They raised the bar yet again the following year with 'Barnum'. A routine which won the perfect score from all the judges for Artistic Impression at the World Championships that year, the first time this had ever been achieved:

Their partnership tapped into the Nation's psyche and won everyone over with performances that not only told a story but were so perfectly sychronised, it was as almost as if the two bodies were controlled by one mind. Innovative, inspired and totally different, their captivating choreography provided the building blocks for a whole raft of inferior emulations in the future.

And, finally, Bolero in 1984:

Previously, their programmes had been made up of three movements, a slower segment sandwiched by an introduction and a grand finale. But Bolero was just the one piece with a tempo that gradually increased in power and volume only to stop dead at the final climax. An emotional snapshot in the form of a dance.

The world went mad for them. Their complete synchronicity on the ice produced the inevitable media questions. Were they a couple? Were they about to get married? Was Bolero a visual mnemonic for their romance?

We were all in love.


Morpheus said...



Fat Controller said...

I remember it very well. 1984 was also the year that Michael Jackson got burned while filming a Pepsi commercial, the first Apple Mac went on sale, the miners' strike started (whatever happened to Arthur Scargill?) and...we got married!

Helga Hansen said...

They were definitely the best, and it was a sad day when they had to move to ice-dancing to continue their careers! I don't think there has been another couple who have evoked such passions in pairs skating since!

Advizor said...

Thanks for a wonderful memory. I was in my first year of college and had a mad crush on her after seeing her skate previous to the Olympics.

When I heard the opening notes to Bolero, probably the most played classical piece on my iPod, my eyes teared up. I loved seeing it all over again.


Isabella Snow said...

Odd I don't remember that/them at all, and ice skating is one of the few Olympic sports I watch. And I did watch that year.. I guess I watched the pairs, because I remember Kitty Caruthers. I love Bolero, though!

And I have tagged you.

Casdok said...

I remember it well!
25 years! Wow!

Suze said...

You just took me back with this post and reminded me just how good they were.

It has also made me yearn to put on my skates again. Alex and I were quite good a few years ago.