A Valentine trip down memory lane

Torvill and Dean’s great Boléro skating performance.

A day late, but let me replay for you the great Boléro performance by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in 1984.

Torvill and Dean were at the top of competition ice dancing for a decade, and still perform in a commercial ice show, but the mesmerising, intensely sexy, and technically flawless Sarajevo Boléro is their masterpiece. They broke the mould of their hidebound sport and turned the poor relation of pairs skating into an art, the competition people really want to watch. I reckon their four-and-a half minute Gesamtkunstwerk actually improved on Ravel: his orchestral piece lasts a full 17 minutes, and the single mechanical tune rather outstays its welcome.

They skated round the rules to do it. Ice dancers may only skate for four minutes, and Dean (the self-taught choreographer of the pair) couldn’t cut Ravel any more. The sensational half-minute start kneeling on the ice was a solution to a technical problem, as it didn’t count as skating – they hoped. The judges had the simple choice between disqualification and perfect marks.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web