Olympic Stories

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean Dancing Perfection

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean  Dancing Perfection

1984 was a very special year for Olympians and true fans of sport. For the XIV Olympic Winter Games, it marked a time in history where true turmoil was bubbling to the surface in the region, and no one really knew if the Games could be held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia without incident.

Remember, the Olympics are marred throughout history as a favorite target of terrorists and oppressive governments. So the world was on the edge of its seat wondering if 1984 would be the year something disastrous happened.

Instead, the world was treated to perhaps the greatest dancing performance ever recorded in the world, thanks to a pair of British dancers, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. To this day, their routine at the 1984 Games is known as the “perfect dance.”

Jayne Torvill

One half of that perfect pairing, Jayne Torvill was born in Clifton, Nottingham, England on October 7, 1957. She grew up as a fan of dancing, and ultimately became an ice skater at the young age of 8. Naturally, she found that combing her love for dance and skating would be a perfect match, and so at 14 she joined with Michael Hutchenson to become the British National Pairs Champions. She branched out and went solo for a short period, ultimately connecting with Christopher Dean in 1975.

The two were on-again, off-again skaters, and this showed in the results. At the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, the pair finished in a disappointing 5th place. This prompted the pair to drop the part-time routine and to take up skating as a pair full-time.

Christopher Dean

The second half of the pair, Christopher Colin Dean was born on July 27, 1958 in Calverton, Nottinghamshire, England. As a child of ballroom dancers, Dean took quickly to dancing and began skating as a 10-year-old kid. He also mixed in other sports, such as football, and at 14 years of age he hooked up with Sandra Elson and became British Junior Dance Champions. But the two did not get along very well at all, which led Dean to drop skating for police cadet training.

When he met Torvill, he was already a cadet and ultimately would become an officer. Though after a disappointing Olympics and deciding to go at skating full-time, the pair wholly committed to the 1984 Winter Games, and both had a lot on the line.

The 1984 Games and the Perfect Dance

The 1984 Olympic field was packed with a massive amount of talent. Ice Dancing was its own unique niche sport, and there was certainly no shortage of excellent dancers. The Soviet Union brought two pairs of skaters to the ice who were incredibly talented – Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin, and Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko. The United States also had multiple pairs of skaters in the field, including Carol Fox and Richard Dalley, and Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert. And that’s not even mentioning the other terrific pairs from Great Britain, including Wendy Sessions and Stephen Williams, and Karen Barber and Nicky Slater.

The fact of the matter is that Torvill and Dean weren’t exactly the front-runners in this particular competition. They were expected to do well, having earned perfect marks for artistic impression previously, but with such fierce competition from the Soviets and Americans, no one truly expected—perhaps outside of Great Britain—for the pair to medal, much less to win Olympic Gold. However, as the pair’s free dance routine started, it quickly became apparent that they were truly on their game. They danced to Bolero by Maurice Ravel, and the entire audience sat silently in shock at Torvill and Dean gracefully danced in seamless transition through amazing moves.

Olympic judging has often been thought a bit crooked, and always thought a bit too biased. After all, you’re dealing with judges whose home countries obviously hold a special place in their hearts. So it’s almost a given that you’re never going to see perfect scores in any large number. However, as the judges began releasing their scores for Torvill and Dean, the entire world stood in shock. Not simply one or two, but 12 marks of 6.0 flashed up. 12 perfect scores in the Olympic Games. This was one time out of five that the pair had received all perfect marks.

To this day, their perfect dance stands as one of Britain’s greatest sporting achievements.

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