The USA duo of Meryl Davis and Charlie White added a touch of spice and spunk to their figure skating competition at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010 by including a Bollywood routine in their ‘Original Dance’ act. The two skaters, who have been ice-skating together since they were nine, won accolades for their performance and also bagged a silver medal at the Games that was held in February at the start of the decade.
In the ‘Original Dance; segment, the participants can create any kind of dance that falls within a specified theme. The theme for the Vancouver Games was country or folk, and the duo of White and Davis turned to Bollywood to impress the judges.
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Skating on songs like ‘Kajra Re’, ‘Silsila Ye Chahat Ka’, and ‘Dola Re Dola’, the two won over the Indians with the ease with which they twizzled and turned to every beat. In a routine that ranked high on technical difficulty, they flew across the ice and never seemed to stop for a minute as they included lifts and hand movements with their facial expressions making it easy to visualize a Bollywood movie.
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Davis, dressed in a glittering red and blue modified lehenga choli, and White, in a traditional sherwani, teamed up together in 1997 and have won a number of competitions together, like the 2014 Olympic Championships, the 2011 and 2013 World Championships beside winning the Grand Prix Final on five occasions.
The idea for their dance came from choreographer and coach Marina Zoueva, who was inspired by the colourful dupattas in a Hermes store. She had been exposed to Hindi films in Russia, and knew immediately that dancing on Bollywood songs would be a fresh change.
“She thought it would be something different,” Davis had said. “Not a lot of people had performed with Bollywood music on ice. And she felt our personalities might translate well into this type of movement.”
The skaters, then, had the tough task of ensuring that their program was true to India’s culture and character. They worked with Anuja Rajendra, a choreographer and improved their arm and body movements to suit the true Indian dance style.
The efforts of Davis and White paid off as they finished with a segment score of 67.08 to come second behind Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.