A number of skating couples are going at it today in the 2010 Winter Olympics, and Sinead and John Kerr are no different (pictured above). The two are seen here incredibly close for brother and sister. Surprisingly enough, they are not the only brother and sister tandem on ice:
When Alexandra Zaretsky takes to the ice in Olympic ice-dancing competition Friday, she’ll look deep into her partner’s eyes as they skate the “Tango Romantica.”
But not too deep. That’s because her partner is her brother, 26-year-old Roman Zaretsky. “We try to find ways to kind of look through—or look a little up, or a little sideways,” says Ms. Zaretsky. “Hey, you gotta act.”
They’re not the only ice dancers in this particular pickle. Four of the 23 ice-dancing pairs competing at the Vancouver Games are brother and sister. And this year, they’re all required to complete a compulsory portion of competition by doing the forbidden dance.
How do you tango with your sibling? “We get that question a lot,” says Israeli Ms. Ice dancing, arguably the most artistic of any Olympic sport, requires a certain believable sizzle on the ice in order to capture a medal. “The training is a sport, but the performance is an art,” says Sinead Kerr, 31, of Great Britain, who is dancing with her brother John.
Ice dancing, which was added to the Games in 1976, blends elements of figure skating and ballroom dancing. Partners stick close together throughout the routine, doing spins as a team while holding hands. Ice dancers have to perform three times: a compulsory dance in which all the teams do the same moves and use the same music (this time, it’s the “Tango Romantica”), a two-minute original dance to a set theme (this year it’s folk/country), and a four-minute free dance of the team’s choosing.
Ice dancers learn to become actors of sorts. “Our coach told us envision someone else’s head is there,” says Chris Reed, 20, who dances with his sister Cathy for Japan. “It’s all an act.” Mr. Reed watches videos of his own performance, and uses mirrors to practices his moves and even his facial expressions. His tango look is “serious but endearing,” says Ms. Reed, who is 22.
Mr. Kerr, 29, says that dancing with his sister means he is prevented from developing romantic themes in performance. (Their tango will be more like a fight between two people, he says.)
“On the ice, we don’t think of each other as brother and sister,” he adds.
Ruling out romance also forces them to be more creative, and act out different sorts of roles on the ice, he says. In 2008, they performed a routine dressed as space aliens. In the Vancouver Games, they are dancing one segment to Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” with Ms. Kerr dressed as a truck driver and Mr. Kerr as a hitchhiker. They will be telling the story of a driver who picks up a rider and then the two swap stories about their many adventures. Even nonsiblings can have a hard time learning to express sizzle all while spinning and lifting their partner off the ground at dizzying speeds.
“Sometimes you need to emote those kinds of feelings like you are in love with her,” says American skater Evan Bates.
Awfully close in tights…SMH.