Opera North

Torvill and Dean

8 April 14 words: Jared Wilson
"Our dabble? That was just a teenage thing. You get comfortable with each other and that was it. We were 15 or 16 and it was kids stuff; it soon went away"
Torvill and Dean's 1984 Bolero - Illustration by Lexie Mac

Torvill and Dean's 1984 Bolero - Illustration by Lexie Mac


Can you remember the first time you both met each other? Where was it? How did it happen?
Jayne: I remember the first time that I saw Chris. I’d been skating at Nottingham ice rink for a couple of years when he joined. He stood out because he had white-blond hair and would skate really fast, even though he’d just started. The second time that I saw him, he had his leg in plaster because he’d gone into a barrier – it didn’t stop him though.
Chris: When we were first paired up by my trainer, people thought we were mismatched. Jayne wasn’t known as a dancer and she was the opposite to my previous partner who was vivacious and fiery. Jayne was – and remains – placid, but I felt immediately comfortable with her.

So the gap between you giving up your jobs (as a Nottingham office clerk and a policeman) and becoming world-famous during the 1984 Olympics was bridged financially by a grant from Nottingham City Council? Is that true?
Jayne: Yes, after we became British Champions and then came fifth at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, we knew that we had a good chance of winning a medal if we carried on and put more work in. It was then that we decided to leave our jobs and Nottingham City Council very kindly gave us a grain to train for the next four years so that we could enter the 1984 Olympics with the same advantages as our competitors.

Michael Crawford was a member of your 1984 team and helped to teach you how to act. What did you learn from working with him?
Jayne: That is true. Michael was wonderful to work with and he taught so much about expressing emotions while on the ice and putting on a performance, while moving at speed.
Chris: We worked with Michael from 1981 and he helped us to create our 1984 Olympic routines. He was right there with our trainer when we were at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo and was a huge support to us.



So you returned to the Olympics in 1994 in Lillyhammer, alongside other skating legends like Boitano and Witt. What were your experiences there like? Were you disappointed that you only finished in third place?
Chris: There were some tensions at the 1994 Olympics and it was caught on camera because there was a documentary film crew following us as we prepared for the performance. Nothing was going right, we were being encouraged by others to change this and that and everything felt a bit out of control. We were making changes that I didn’t feel were necessary and at one point I was filmed having a go at Jayne, but five minutes after that row we were laughing again. I have a strong passion and that was a difficult time for us – but we always know that whatever happens on the ice is over by the time we leave the rink. When I get like that Jayne calms me down.

There’s something very intimate about the way you both dance together. You admitted that this did spill over briefly into a real-life romance. How did you manage to bridge the gap after that and get on together as professionals?
Jayne: I know Chris has talked about us having a teenage romance; I think it was just before we became skating partners when I was 16 and Chris was 15. I can’t really remember much about it. But from the time we were partners the focus was always on the skating. Until I started working with Chris, it was just still a jobby but together, we knew we could make something more of it. We both had the same mentality that nothing would interfere with the opportunity that we had.
Chris: Our dabble? That was just a teenage thing. You get comfortable with each other and that was it. We were 15 or 16 and it was kids stuff; it soon went away. I think it might have lasted a few weeks at the most. I’m not sure what happened or who ended it, but I think we just agreed between us that it had to be about the skating. That’s what always removed us from everyone else. We were very single minded about wanting to be the best that we could be. And we were never tempted again.

Torvill and Dean as they are now

Torvill and Dean as they are now


Who are your other favourite Nottingham heroes? Sporting or otherwise..?
Jayne: At the moment we’re very big fans of Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes, who performed at the Sochi Winter Olympics. We think that they’re going to really do incredibly well at the next Winter Olympics and have a big future ahead of them.
Chris: Nick and Penny are definitely the ones to watch in the world of ice dancing and we're very proud that they're from Nottingham too.

We adore you here in Nottingham. Anything else you want to say to your Nottingham public?
Jayne: We’re just so very grateful for the continuing support of the people of Nottingham. We’re very proud to be from the area and have such a strong connection with the city. Without the support of the Nottingham City Council, as well as the chance to train at the Nottingham Ice Rink, we would never be where we are today so we will be eternally thankful.
Chris: When we look back at the two young kids from Nottingham , who met on the ice at Nottingham Ice Rink all those years ago, it seems incredible to think of the journey that we’ve been on and all the things that we’ve done since then. We’ve worked hard and put a lot of effort into what we’ve done, but it’s been worth it and proved that if you really want something then if you work at it enough then you can make your dreams come true. Hopefully our experiences can be an inspiration to future generations of children in Nottingham to work hard and achieve their goals.

Torvill and Dean's Dancing On Ice Tour is at Nottingham Arena from Tuesday 8 to Thursday 10 April 2014. The mass bolero takes place on Tuesday 8 April 2014 in the Market Square and will be filmed and shown as part of Neat14 Festival.

Find more coverage of the Neat14 Festival
Dancing on Ice website
Neat14 Festival

 

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