Viewers throughout the world readily recall the stunning images beamed from Sarajevo four years ago when Mr. Dean, a blond, haughty bullfighter, flung the petite Miss Torvill - his human cape - to the ice in their ''Paso Doble. And in this instance, both skaters - passion personified -hurled themselves with near-suicidal fervor toward the ground. Ice dancing, now the most glamorous event in skating, is nonetheless not synonymous with Torvill and Dean. Many a couple in ice-dancing competition has waltzed out onto the rink as if on assignment. Ironically, the ice-dance category, whose rules differ from that of figure skating, was not admitted to Olympic competition until because it was rooted in ballroom forms and not considered athletic enough.
Ice dancers are not allowed the multiple spins or air turns required of figure skaters.
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Nor are they supposed to execute the athletic ''throws'' or high lifts practiced by those skaters in the pairs category of competition, whose partnered moves are remote from the social dance rhythms at the base of ice dancing. Too often, however, even competitors in ice dance treat each separate element in their choreography as a trick. Well before they turned professional in , Torvill and Dean aimed at something else: to project character as total artists.
Dean said during a series of interviews. It is in reaction to this trick-to-trick athleticism in ice skating that Torvill and Dean's own esthetic bias can be understood. There are no isolated moves, no ''unlinked elements'' in their seamless skating, no empty spaces in between. Each trajectory is packed with dramatic gestures, steps and emoting. In ''Barnum on Ice,'' a circus-theme duet that they have performed outside the Ice Capades, both skaters mime a kaleidoscopic assemblage of juggling, clowning and acrobatic feats.
There is a comic touch as they pretend to put on clown makeup while whizzing by; a deadpan expression turns into an impish grin. The ''Paso Doble'' is indisputably the most startling of their dances -not only because it ingeniously offers a human cape being flung around by a matador but also because this conceit becomes still another metaphor for passion in male-female relations. Because it is so well known, having been repeatedly replayed during televised skating competitions since , this duet has become a model of the thoroughness that goes into Torvill and Dean's approach to skating.
The music is taken from Rimsky-Korsakov's ''Capriccio Espagnol,'' and as both skaters stand at the center of the rink, the surprise to come is kept literally under wraps.
Miss Torvill clings to Mr. Dean's back, a hand draped over his right shoulder from behind. Dressed in a bullfighter's costume, he reaches across his chest as if holding a cape. Then, in a second, this is what Miss Torvill ''becomes. As both skaters move continuously in serpentine paths around each other, Mr. Dean whirls, twirls and twists the shape that is his partner. The most spectacular moments are those when the matador drags his cape behind him - that is, Mr. Dean pushes forward emphatically to an insistent rhythm, as Miss Torvill is pulled along, gliding on one knee.
Typically, the duet includes other dramatic subtleties. A death spiral is a familiar skating move in which the woman, held by one hand, drops parallel to the ice with her head perilously downward. In their ''Paso Doble,'' Miss Torvill makes this set move barely recognizable as such. It is transformed instead into a suggestion of a piece of fabric swept toward the ground - an example of a bullfighter's flamboyant exhibitionism. The final moment, no matter how frequently seen, preserves its power to surprise. Dean, eyes flashing, suddenly throws his ''cape'' to the ice. Miss Torvill falls prone, revolves on her stomach and comes to rest.
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Like the grandest of all toreadors, her partner salutes the crowd, one arm raised in triumph. What the audience may not catch is that while Miss Torvill is always on the move, she is also doing her best to portray, as Mr.
Dean notes, ''an inanimate object. Miss Torvill adds: ''I have to be very bland and expressionless, not a lady. But it is typical of the Torvill and Dean approach that there is an overriding concept in everything they do.
Dancing on Ice
Dean's view of himself as the bullfighter is highly specific: ''The bull is imaginary,'' he says. From then on, the matador is arrogant. I show the cape off, but I relate to the bull. My relationship is to something in the distance. In my own thought, that is what I do - for the credibility of what we're doing. View all New York Times newsletters. Their purpose would be served, they felt, with Rimsky-Korsakov's ''Capriccio Espagnol.
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The most characteristic aspect of their work was their insistence on researching as much as possible about bullfights. Dean's concern was ''how the cape was flung, the look of the shoulder and how the cape is used to taunt the bull. Dean spent close to a year choreographing and rehearsing the short piece, discarding a second version that was ''too busy. It was Mr. Dean's idea to avoid the repetition in movement that Ravel's repeated melody usually suggests to stage choreographers.
Another formal element in this progression was the way the skaters moved further apart. The music's crescendo is eventually equated with the intensity of the couple on the ice. Human passion peaks when the music does. The love story that Torvill and Dean continuously describe on ice, just as Rogers and Astaire did on film, is as changeable in mood as love itself. Their relationship off the ice is platonic, they insist. Yet, artistically, their programs over the years have marked an evolution from teen-age infatuation to sophisticated romance. It is hard to believe that Miss Torvill and Mr.
Frozen out Dancing on Ice pro 'deeply saddened' he can't coach Scotland's next skating stars
Dean once considered themselves incompatible when they initially joined up as skating partners as teen-agers in their native Nottingham. At first, Mr. Dean, at 5 feet 9 inches, seemed too tall to properly partner Miss Torvill, who is 5 feet 1 inch. Other obstacles were encountered and overcome. At the age of 19, Mr. Dean became a policeman and stayed on the force until he was Mismatched practice schedules with Miss Torvill, then a secretary and underwriter in an insurance office, complicated their training.
And yet, in the end, their sheer genius molded the pair into a team that has set new artistic standards in the skating world. He and Trenary have two sons, Jack, 20, and Sam, 18, but their year marriage ended in He looks nothing like Chris. He often just goes with it rather than correct them. By Siobhan Palmer. Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean started skating together in the s Image: Getty Get the biggest celebs stories by email Subscribe See our privacy notice More newsletters.
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