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Champion on Ice

Champion on Ice
August 2019

Renowned figure skating choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne draws top competitors to the Holy City

Canada’s Shae-Lynn Bourne and partner Victor Kraatz in action during their routine at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City

Shae-Lynn Bourne is constantly in motion. As one of figure skating’s most sought-after choreographers, she helps skaters tell stories through movement. During her 28-year career in figure skating, the Ontario, Canada, native won 10 national championships and the 2003 World Championships with her skating partner, Victor Kraatz. Today, Bourne crafts programs for the sport’s top competitors, including U.S. national and world champion Nathan Chen in an unlikely place: Charleston. Bourne; her filmmaker husband, Bohdan Turok; and their young son, Kai, recently moved from Toronto to James Island, seeking a warmer climate. The choreographer now brings her impressive roster of clients to the Carolina Ice Palace to develop programs for the upcoming competitive season. With Bourne’s creative influence, the next Olympic-crowning performance just might originate here in the Holy City. So, what does it take to turn athletic feats into works of art?

Shae-Lynn Bourne with Nathan Chen (left) and Yi Christy Leung at Carolina Ice Palace in North Charleston

New Directions: After winning the World Championships in 2003, my partner resigned. I created my own path as a solo ice dancer, performing in shows around the world with programs born out of my imagination. Soon, my style intrigued others, and requests for choreography started to flow. dThe Creative Process: I try to have each skater involved in the music choice and direction of the program because, in the end, they are the ones that have to get out on the ice and perform. I want them to really love what they skate to and believe in it, so they can be most present when they compete. Once I know the direction, the movement follows.

In Sync: Music unlocks the doors to story and movement. I’m lucky my husband is such a creative soul. His film background helps me craft stories and characters for the skaters. We bounce ideas off each other and speak at length about music and the choreography.

Coastal Effects: There’s a calm, peaceful feeling here; it’s a different pace of life than Toronto. Living so close to the ocean naturally relaxes you and opens you up. We love it.

Local Connections: It’s thrilling to know that you could have an Olympic champion in your city. I hope more people will see these incredible skaters and get into skating themselves. I can’t think of a better place to cool off, get in shape, and learn something new.


Photographs by (Bourne & Kratz) PA Images/Alamy Stock photos & courtesy of (Chen, Bourne, & Leung) Stacey Mons