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The Beauty of Ice Dance

By Jess Fitzi

Alright, so the Winter Olympics are over until 2018. Let’s all have a moment to cry about that. If you’re anything like me, the Winter Olympics are a big deal to you, and you probably turn into a crazy person for a few weeks every four years. That’s okay though, because if we’re being honest here, what these people, particularly the Ice Dancers, can do with their bodies is pretty darn incredible. Not only do ice skaters need to tone and strengthen their bodies to withstand the pressure and intensity they put it through via sport, they also need to interpret the gracefulness and dedication to perfect the art of dance. The combination of art and sport in this activity is an amazing talent that deserves every ounce of respect that it receives. Two ice dance teams in particular deserve an honorable mention. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the Canadian Ice Dancing Team, who took home gold in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympics, truly are some of the most talented skaters out there and bring immense pride to Canada. This is without even mentioning their unbelievable chemistry and the fact that they are just oh-so-adorable. Tessa and Scott began skating together when Tessa was seven and Scott was nine-years-old. Scott has said that he feels bad for any other girl he skated with as a child, because he would go only a few minutes before requesting to skate with Tessa again. Even as a kid, Scott knew there was only one partner for him. (Seriously, so cute, right?) The two make the dance aspect of skating look easy; they have this light-on-their-skates feel to them that instantly captures your attention and makes you fall in love with them. 

Tessa & Scott, after their Olympic winning performance in 2010.
The other team high on my radar is the American Ice Dancing team, who just took home gold from Sochi 2014: Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Meryl and Charlie also started ice skating as a team as young children, but seem to have a strangely different relationship than their competitors. While Tessa and Scott describe their relationship as, “Not quite romantic, not quite brother-sister, and not quite best friends, but kind of all three,” Meryl and Charlie have said that they are definitely best friends. Particularly after their final Sochi performance, the one that ultimately won them gold for the first time in their careers, Charlie mouthed something to Meryl after they finished that he later disclosed to be “I love you.” When asked about his notion for saying this, he mentioned that he had never said it before and he just felt so emotional and thankful for the partner and friend he had by his side that it just felt like the right thing to say. Meryl and Charlie really capture the beauty of skating, with their exotic music choices, gorgeous costumes, and extensive skill and tenderness while dancing.

Meryl & Charlie, in one of their more beautiful costume choices.
If we’re being honest here, this kind of long term, close and trusting companionship, while also sharing a love and passion for the same art, is something we all crave. Not only do these four get that connection individually with each other, they get it as a group. The most peculiar thing about these two teams, who have gone back and forth winning gold and silver metals in every competition since they were children, is that they train in the same ice arena, with the same coach. It honestly seems like a train wreck to anyone who hears this bit of information, but somehow these four made it work. They have all said that they are great friends off the ice, and competitors on the ice. Something about this has always touched me, making their programs slightly more intriguing to watch. The immense level of respect and adoration I previously had for the two teams doubled when I discovered how close they all were, along with how respectful they are towards each other regarding the love of skating and dance they all share.

Meryl & Charlie's Olympic winning performance in Sochi 2014
The combination of dance, sport, and chemistry between each team is simply mesmerizing to witness. Scott has admitted that he and Tessa see themselves as actors or performers on the ice and that in most programs, and songs they skate to, they are playing the part of a man and a woman in love. This realization makes watching the pair perform a completely different experience. While they were always beautiful to watch, it was made even more interesting to connect ice skaters with actors. Weird, right? I thought so too, until I really took into consideration what they’re doing during a performance. Just like a theater performer, ice dancing couples need to really sell their performance. Having a connection with each other is vital, as the chemistry is a rather large part of the whole concept of partnership. Both teams show this chemistry, but Tessa and Scott particularly have this unbelievable connection that is obvious with every synchronized move they make, as well as how they look at each other. In the video below, it shows one of my personal favorite Tessa and Scott performances, where they dance to Rhianna’s “Stay”. The performance is just so intense and the looks they give each other, as well as the hand movements, are just incredible. Even though every step and move is practiced and perfected, they make it look so spontaneous and effortless. 

As a whole, ice dancing is hugely overlooked in the world of art. Most will pass it off as a sport, looking at only the technical judging and athletic movements involved. Others can see more into the dance aspect, and realize how musically dependent and theatrical the sport really is. The American and Canadian Ice Dance teams are the best in the world (going back to that judging and technicality) and the most beautiful. They have opened my eyes to how artistic and wonderful my favorite sport really is. 

Meryl, Charlie, Tessa & Scott, with their gold/silver metals after the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics