DANCE

Masters of fire and ice

CHRIS WOOD September 15 1986
DANCE

Masters of fire and ice

CHRIS WOOD September 15 1986

Masters of fire and ice

DANCE

Erotic and innovative, their ice dancing was the sensation of the 1984 Winter Olympics. The diminutive Jayne Torvill, formerly an insurance clerk, and her fresh-faced ex-policeman partner, Christopher Dean, dazzled the world with an impassioned, highly individualistic interpretation of Ravel’s fiery Bolero. That performance in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, won the English couple a rare perfect score of 6.0 from all nine judges. And when they turned professional later that year, audiences packed arenas around the globe to see the natives of Nottingham elevate a familiar sport into the realm of high art. Last week Torvill and Dean, both 28, opened a 21-

city return visit to Canada with an appearance in the Halifax Metro Centre, and they proved that their passion on the ice burned as fiercely as ever. Declared tourist Barbara Findlay of Victoria, one of the 2,000 fans who joined in an enthusiastic standing ovation: “They are super. I like them even more now that they have more freedom.” Their 2V2-hour show reveals its debt to dance—particularly the ensemble pieces performed by the supporting company of 16 ice dancers, including seven Canadians. One pungent composition, Hell, features Toronto-based Gary Beacom as a top-hatted devil who gyrates lewdly while cracking a whip at demons clad in leather and lace. Torvill and Dean themselves recreated the performances that brought them fame on the competition circuit, including Bolero. But their newer

pieces, such as the flowing balletic duet Encounter, demonstrated the depth of their remarkable talents. Although some skating purists maintain that Torvill and Dean have pushed ice dancing too far, many hail their work as an important breakthrough. Said former Canadian ice dance champion Lorna Wighton: “Now that they have broken the rules, other kids are much freer in their choreography.”

The frankly sexual intensity of Torvill and Dean in performance has fired frequent speculation about a romance. Last week Dean would say only that the two are “good Platonic friends.” Still, their continuing closeness is clear in their physical gestures of af-

fection—and a habit of finishing each other’s sentences.

The two skaters agreed that their gruelling tour schedule has been exhausting. Torvill yawned frequently during rehearsal, while Dean, just recovered from a cold, acknowledged: “It’s a very physical show. We were getting run down.” They will follow their Canadian tour with appearances in the United States and Europe, and they are trying to find time to develop new works for their show next spring before launching a fresh tour that will involve a return to Canada in 1988. Said Torvill: “We’re always looking for something that’s never been done before.” With steel blades and creative fire, the two artists continue to etch their signatures on ice.

CHRIS WOOD