Around 2000s when I first started going to internet skating forums, there was a general perception that the North American ice dance community prefers ballroom styles, while Russian/French/European ice dance community prefers dramatic, storytelling, nonballroom styles. Recently I looked at some early 1990s ice dance programs and found this theory to be ... not too reliable.
A comparison among the top three free dances is pretty interesting.
Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, music from the movie soundtrack Missing, choreographed by Christopher Dean:
Usova and Zhulin, music from Piazzolla's tangos, choreographed, I assume, by Natalia Dubova:
Klimova and Ponomarenko, music from My Fair Lady the musical, choreographed also by Dubova (most likely):
The two Soviet teams were actually more ballroom than the French/Canadian team. I wonder how commentators like Tracy Wilson and Susie Wynne, who have often implied a higher regard for orthodox ballroom style on ice, really feel about these programs.
By the 1992 Olympic season, the Soviet teams saw the writing on the wall and adopted the nonballroom style for their free dance. By the time of the 1994 Olympic season, however, no-drama floor dances returned to dominance.
It is also interesting to compare the judging considerations between then and now. The more I look at it, the more I am uncertain about what is more important in the sport of ice dance --- technical difficulty and ability versus originality and "that undefinable artistic quality" (or maybe I'm wrong and it is neither).
We all know how these programs were judged in 1990. If they are judged now, would the verdict be any different? If yes, does that mean the standards of what is considered ideals of ice dance have changed in the past 15 years? Over the years, I see the pendulum swing back and forth between drama vs ballroom in ice dance. My guess is that it will continue to swing. Funny to realize that the arguments get rehashed every generation (8 to 10 years).