Dance: T&D: daring skaters, timid dancers

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Indy Lifestyle Online
It's not as if Torvill & Dean have anything to prove. They need a bungalow just to house the cups they've won. They scooped four world championships and the Olympic gold in 1984, when the judges awarded them an unheard-of, perfect score. And even when they muffed their Olympic comeback 10 years later (taking the bronze), a certain British tabloid rushed out a pair of gold medals engraved "Torvill & Dean, the Real Winners", and flew to Lillehammer to present them. Their names have become a great British brand name, synonymous with their trade. Marks & Spencer, Tate & Lyle, Borevil & Clean. Of course it's conceivable that what they now might want to prove, at the ages of 41 and 40, is that they are more than just sports entertainers. That ice dance can have a cutting edge. But their new show, Ice Adventures, is not the vehicle for this.

Displaying all the adventurousness of a chainstore scarf`n'mittens set, Jayne and Christopher never once allow the chill of risk in on their act, nor, heaven forbid, any hint of arty seriousness. The opening sequence features a furry gonk. The second is an elaborate railway-station scene in which cheery folk in bobble hats link up to form a miniature engine which chugs across the ice, puffing steam. The real novelty is the lighting, which allows elaborate designs to be beamed down onto the ice surface (railway tracks, snow crystals, shoals of coloured fish) without being overshadowed by skaters' silhouettes. This makes for some pretty effects but diminishes the skaters' role. Once the ice is no longer a big blank page waiting to be filled by skaters' scribbles, all they have to do is not fall over.

Yet Dean's choreography is never less than stylish (he did the whole show, not just the bits he appears in), and when T&D cut the ice together, the rhythm is impeccable, their unison sublime. Dean is clearly a man whose ideas are not played out. A year ago he produced a more-than-competent little work for English National Ballet. He may well have artistic ambitions for ice dance, but first he needs a new audience and a new format, one that relies more on the development of ideas and less on gimmicks. But, as gimmicks go, flying Jayne Torvill on Peter Pan wires was a pretty good one.

Wembley Arena (0181 900 1234), today, 2pm; Manchester Nynex Arena (0161 950 5555), 13-17 Jan; then touring to Newcastle and Sheffield.

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