Valentine’s Day 1984 was a day that has gone down in ice skating history as being the one and only time that an ice dancing couple has ever managed to score a clean sweep of perfect 6.0 scores from all the judges. Who were that duo? Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean of course, with their routine set to Bolero.
Torvill and Dean were a household name in the early 1980’s, as they were such a success on the ice that ice skating was rarely off our screens at the time. They had won just about every gold medal it was possible to win, but the big one was the Olympics, and it was for the 1984 Winter Olympics that they put their Bolero routine together. Dressed in flowing purple, the pair went on to receive not just perfect scores but a standing ovation from the crowd!
However, things aren’t quite as straight forward as they appear, as the routine could easily have been disqualified due to a technicality. An Olympic ice skating routine is only allowed to be four minutes in length, yet Bolero is a piece of music that is around 17 minutes long. Working with a composer Torvill and Dean managed to reduce the music to 4 minutes and 18 seconds, which was still too long, but cut the music any further and the feeling of the piece would have been lost.
The solution? Well, the four minutes are timed from the moment the skaters actually start skating, hence why Jayne and Christopher start the routine knelt on the ice and don’t move for the first twenty seconds or so. Cunning, and if it wasn’t for the fact that the entire sequence fitted the music and flowed so well, it might have been another story.
So it was that Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, an Insurance Clerk and Policeman from Nottingham, became UK heroes. After the 1984 Olympics they turned professional, albeit for a brief return in 1994 to the Olympics (they came third). They have choreographed many ice shows over the years, until in 1998 when they officially retired, although they continued to coach and choreograph individually. In 2006 they were coaxed back together for ITV’s Dancing On Ice, a show where celebrities are taught to skate and perform routines thought up by the pair.
I’ll leave you with a video clip of the full Bolero routine – quite how they make it look so effortless I don’t know. As soon as you hear that distinctive music start it takes you right back to sitting on the sofa as a kid, watching them perform it for the first time on TV.