Alexandra Bernard, 18, and Lilly Carone, 13, are ISI’s newest Dance 10 skaters. Sarah Fuller also earned her Dance 10 designation, but was unable to participate in this forum.
Home Rink: Ice Rink Chalet, Knoxville, Tenn.
Coach: Larry LaBorde
Home Rink: Planet Ice, Johnston; Alpha Ice, Harmarville, Penn.
Coach: Laura Bowers, Bob Mock, Barb Gahagan
Do you have a regular ice dancing partner?
Alexandra: My coach, Larry LaBorde, teaches me all of the partnering in my dances, and up until my Dance 10 test he was my regular partner. Ashley Deavers from Birmingham, Ala., partnered me through the test.
Lily: No, I skate solo dance at this point in time.
How long have you been ice dancing and how did you become interested in it?
Alexandra: I started getting serious about dancing about two years ago. I was in Freestyle 7, and Larry thought it was ridiculous that I was only in Dance 3. I tested Dance 4 through 7 in the following few months, and that’s when I started to really love it.
Lilly: I have been ice dancing since I was 8 years old and became interested while watching ice dancers at my rink.
What is it about ice dancing that you love most?
Alexandra: I love the way the edges flow together and make sense — there’s something elegant and precise about it that’s really satisfying.
Lilly: I love the beauty and flow of ice dance. It helps my posture and edges and has improved my poise in everything I do.
What aspect of it do you consider the most challenging?
Alexandra: I’d say staying in shape is challenging. Doing three laps of even one dance can be exhausting, and I’d practice all three dances in 10 in one practice. It’s hard because even if you take only a weeklong break, you notice yourself getting fatigued quickly and that can be very frustrating.
Lilly: An aspect of Dance 10 dances that is most challenging is getting edges deep enough for quality high-level dances and staying on pattern.
What was the most difficult part of the ISI Dance 10 test?
Alexandra: I don’t usually get nervous before performing or testing, but I was scared that I would miss my chance to pass. Since I was a senior at the time, it was likely my last national level event and I wouldn’t have gotten another chance to test had I failed, so I put a lot of pressure on myself.
Lilly: Again, I’d say getting edges deep enough and staying on pattern.
Why was it important to you to achieve the Dance 10 level? What does it mean to you?
Alexandra: It’s important, because I put so much time into dancing and skating in general, so passing was something that felt like a reward for all that effort. It honestly encouraged me with pairs and freestyle as well, and inspired me to keep working harder in those areas, too.
Lilly: It was important to me to achieve Dance 10, because I wanted the sense of accomplishment in passing all of the levels. It also showed that determination and hard work can really pay off.
What is your advice to other skaters who would like to try ice dancing?
Alexandra: I’d say to work on dance every practice session if you can. Since there’s so much focus on posture and footwork, dancing improves every other area of skating, too, and makes you a more graceful and well-rounded skater. So the more time you put into dancing, the more everything else improves. It’s so worth it!
Lilly: I would recommend ice dancing to anyone at any age who might show an interest. It is such a fun aspect of the sport, where you can show a lot of expression without worrying about jumps and spins. You can do it throughout your life and it will improve every other aspect of your skating.
What is your history with ISI?
Alexandra: I’ve been a member of ISI and have skated at the Ice Chalet in Knoxville since I was 4 years old.
Lilly: I have been skating with ISI since I started skating at age 5. I have participated in production teams, synchro, spotlight, couples spotlight, freestyle and dance events. I have over 160 ISI medals from local and national competitions. Currently, I skate at the Freestyle 7 level and have begun working on the international dances and hope to pass Open Diamond Solo Freedance soon.
Have you participated in ISI competitions and events, and/or do you have plans to do so in the future?
Alexandra: I’ve gone to various ISI competitions for the past 14 years. Some highlights include the 2014 Worlds in Boston, where I got to skate a program in the ISIA Benefit Show, which was a great experience. Competing in the future really depends on my college schedule.
Lilly: I have been lucky to participate in two ISI Worlds competitions and two ISI Conference Championships. In addition, I have skated in local ISI competitions throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland. I plan to continue competing at local competitions and hope to attend at least one more national event before I graduate high school.
What do you like best about the ISI testing and recreational competition programs?
Alexandra: I like that ISI focuses not only on technical elements, but also the overall performance. ISI teaches you to really perform rather than just go through the motions.
Lilly: Competitions are really fun experiences where I have met new skaters from around the world. The atmosphere is friendly and supportive, yet the events still provide competitive experiences.
What are your other test levels and highlights of your ice skating background?
Alexandra: I’m currently competing in Freestyle 6 and Open Gold Pairs. I’ve competed in multiple Worlds, Winter Classic and local competitions, including the 2014 Worlds ISIA Benefit Show. I’ve participated in ProSkaters in 2014 and 2015, and in the Ice Chalet’s “Nutcracker on Ice” shows for 13 years. I’ve received the Best Posture Award for five consecutive years at our rink.
Lilly: ISI has been such a wonderful part of my life. I have very supportive coaches who are dedicated to ISI and work really well together.
One highlight of my ISI career is that I was given the Good Sport Award at ISI Worlds in Boston when I was 9 years old. The award meant a lot to me — I value the skaters’ creed and hope to model positive behavior and work ethic for skaters.
Another highlight is that Dr. Olga Jaffae, author of the Skateland series, placed an interview and photo of me on her blog. I wrote a story for ISI’s Recreational Ice Skating magazine that described how our relationship developed after I wrote to her when I was 9. I enjoy catching up with her at competitions, because she is so supportive and enthusiastic about skating.
What is your current ice skating program? Do you have additional skating plans or goals?
Alexandra: I’ve been training with my partner, Benjamin Toedte, for his audition at ProSkaters.
Lilly: I skate my FS 7 program to music from the movie,“Dragonheart.” It is inspirational music with orchestral movements. My dramatic spotlight is to a song, “Angel by Your Side, ” and I dedicate it to people with chronic illness and cancer. For Open Gold, I skate to “Sweet Georgia Brown,” an energetic swing program. I like to vary the genres of music I skate to—from moving orchestral/meaningful so I can express my artistry, to quick swing that has a lot of trumpet—drawing from my interest as a jazz band trumpet player.
At the suggestion of my coach, Laurie, my band director and piano teachers are working with me to record a song in which I play the piano and trumpet so I can develop an artistic skating program to it. It is neat that different things I do connect to skating! I also love to sing the National Anthem at school sporting events.
What are your other interests and/or achievements?
Alexandra: I’m a candidate for the International Baccalaureate Full Diploma program at West High School and will be attending the University of Alabama in the fall. I have three younger siblings and three step siblings. I participate in the Medical Explorations Program at the University of Tennessee and hope to become a dermatologist. I’m the secretary of the Teen Board of Casa de Sara, which provides medical care and education for impoverished children in the Americas.
Lilly: In addition to skating, I enjoy playing the piano and trumpet, and singing and acting in school musicals. I volunteer for our local learn-to-skate program, and I’m an altar server at my church.