The world of Ice Dancing had some good news recently. The Canadian Ice Dance duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir who set the competition on fire at the 2010 Vancouver Games with their scintillating golden moves took to the floor this month at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic International. This is their first performance together in nearly two and a half years; the last time they skated they won the silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia. And not surprisingly, the score of 77.2 points that they notched up in the Short Dance was well ahead of the Danish pair that finished second.
However, there is still the Free Dance part of the competition ahead.
Ice Dancing is a popular sport coming under the discipline of Figure Skating; it became an official Olympic sport in 1976. As the term indicates, the routine involves a couple consisting of a man and a woman performing spins and rhythmic dance moves to a musical piece. There are strict requirements for the performance to be evaluated such as no jumps and throws and no separation beyond two arm lengths.
Ice Dancing differs greatly from figure skating where skaters’ skills are focused on jumps and spins and in the precision of the footwork. This is one of the reasons why the Artistic Director of Ice Dance International, a professional company that performs around the world, is keen to move the activity from ‘sport’ to that of an ‘art’. Ice Dancing is all about expansive power and speed, flow and flight and the design that we get to see on the ice and hence it is more of an art than a sport discipline is the contention.
In the 1930s, many elements of what is known as Compulsory Dances comprised moves developed by ice dances from Great Britain. Since joining the World Championships in 1952, British teams have won twelve out of the first sixteen world championships. The moves back then were more drawn towards an upright carriage and angular moves. From the 1960s however when more ice dances from Europe started to join in, a new trend in dance moves began to emerge involving more upper body movement and greater speed.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Soviet dancers took centre-stage through their more theatrical styles based on elements of ballet which emphasized extended line and speed rather than difficult footwork. The Russian pair of Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov won the first international title when Dancing became an official medal event.