Creating a champion.
In 1975 John moved to the US, where two new influences transformed his career. One was the then-fashionable Erhard Seminar Training (EST therapy). Nicknamed no-piss therapy because sessions often ran all day without breaks, EST was claimed by many to have helped rid them of counter-productive mental baggage. The second influence was that of his new trainers, Carlo and Christa Fassi (who later also coached Robin Cousins). Perhaps because of his troubled relationship with his father, John felt himself an outsider and longed to gain acceptance by excelling at his chosen career; the combination made him fiercely self-critical, which in turn made him reluctant to accept criticism from others. His relationships with trainers tended to be troubled and brief, but in the Fassis, John felt he had trainers who were sympathetic.
Ice dancing a combination of skating and ballet achieved legitimacy at the 1984 Winter Olympics with the triumph of Torvill and Dean. However, it was John Curry a ground-breaking figure skater whose own brilliant career was dogged by professional failure and personal tragedy who was responsible for the rise of this new form.
Early dreams.
Born in 1949, John Curry was a dance enthusiast from an early age: he had wanted to take ballet classes when he was five years old, but his father refused. Instead, John took up skating, at which he excelled. Numerous competition wins followed, satisfying his father that skating qualified as a competitive sport. When he was 16 his father died and John moved to London. He began training full-time and also started taking the previously forbidden ballet classes. Already, he was formulating his life's mission: to form an ice dance company, bring ballet-standard dance to the skating world and reveal the possibilities of the rink to the ballet world.
John wanted to make a name for himself in international figure skating, but two obstacles stood in his way: one technical and one stylistic. Technically, John's performance suffered as he competed at higher levels: after a flawless practice, nervousness would lead to slips in front of the judges. And stylistically, John was at odds with the British figure skating community. His vision of ice dance and his years as a ballet enthusiast had
John Curry by Sandra Stevenson
helped him to develop his own fluid, expressive style. This was seen as acceptable in a child skater, but less appropriate for a young man: 'I was actually told not to be so graceful,' he later recalled.
John Curry (Part 2). Skaters & Championships Index.