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Canton’s Copely Channels Chaplin with Charlotte Lichtman

Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely

For their free dance this season, junior ice dancers Charlotte Lichtman and Dean Copely are using a Charlie Chaplin theme. “Our coach, Marina Zoueva, came up with the idea,” Copely said. “She decided before Nationals last year that she wanted us to do it because I’m a short goofy guy and the girls are all gorgeous in Chaplin movies.”

“She thought it was right for us because of our skating styles and personality,” Lichtman added. “The music is from ‘Limelight’ but the theme is from “City Lights”. I play a blind girl who sells flowers. I have to show how I pick up the flower and give it to him.”

“We watched hours of Chaplin movies to see how he moved and reacted and to get the mustache just right,” Copely explained. “It has to be a trapezoid, not a square or I’ll look like Hitler. It’s probably my only chance to have a mustache in a program so I want it to be perfect.”

“Michael Lee spent a lot of time with us,” Copely said of the performance actor and professional mime who helps coach at their rink. “He played a huge part in making the Chaplin program come to life.”

“It’s the absolute favorite program I’ve ever done,” Copely enthused. “Our original dance runthroughs are hard, but the free is so fun it doesn’t even feel like work.”

The choice proved to be a wise one as the couple started off their 2009-10 season by finishing second in the free dance at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championship in August.

They next competed at the Junior Grand Prix in Budapest, Hungary at the end of August, placing eighth overall, but third in the free dance.. “We intend to stay in juniors this season.” Copely said. “We’re hoping we’ll get a second Junior Grand Prix so we can make the Final. That would be amazing but not impossible. Tokyo’s my favorite city in the world. I love the food and the culture. Everything is so different there.”

Lichtman started to skate when she was six. “My two older sisters both skated and my brother played hockey,” she related. “My Dad helped get the first rink where I started skating.”

“I competed in singles from seven to 14,” she continued. “I competed up to the novice level and had my triple loop. I had started working with Igor on stroking when I was 11 or 12 and as I became more frustrated with jumps I got more interested in dance.”

“I did some solo dance competitions at Lake Placid and that was a lot of fun,” she continued. “Then I started dancing with Paul Bellantuono in December 2007 and we were sixth in novice free dance at Lake Placid in 2008. I moved to New Jersey to train with Paul, but after Lake Placid I stayed in Detroit and he went back home.”

Copely began skating when he was just three years old. “My Mom was trying to get some exercise so she went skating and took me with her,” he recalled. “Then I played hockey for about four years. My older sister was skating too and we moved to Delaware for her to skate. I met all her skating friends so I decided to do figure skating.”

“I did dance on and off,” he continued. “I had my first partner, Rachel Siegel, when I was 12. We were sixth in juvenile dance in 2002. Then I skated with Ashley Foy and we were fifth in juvenile in 2003. I tried pairs for a while with Meredith Pipkin and we were fifth in juvenile pairs in 2005.”

“I also competed in freestyle,” he continued. “I was 14th in the first round in intermediate men in 2005. Next year I tried really hard on my jumps and got up to a triple loop, but I got tired of them. The other reason was longevity.”

“I was taking some dance lessons with Oleg Ovsiannikov and Angelika Krylova and I loved them, so I decided to skate without jumps by just doing dance,” he said. “It was hard to tell Priscilla Hill I was going to quit jumping after six years with her.”

“I skated with Anastasia Cannuscio for two years,” Copely continued. “We were third in novice in 2007 and eighth in juniors in 2008 and had a couple of Junior Grand Prixs.”

“Then in April after the 2008 Nationals, I decided to move to Canton to train,” he stated. “I figured there would be no problem in finding a partner but there weren’t any. So I went to Lake Placid Dance in August but there weren’t any there either. Two weeks after I came back, Marina put me together with Charlotte. After only five months together, we got ninth in juniors at Nationals.”

The dancers train at the Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Michigan with Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva, who also choreograph the couple’s dances. They spend three to four hours on ice five days a week but don’t do too much off ice.

Lichtman does Pilates and ballet while Copely said, “I get too sore from ballet. I’d rather put in my time on the ice.”

“The compulsory dances are new for both of us,”Lichtman noted. “Igor has been working with us a lot, especially on the waltz, and we’ve improved a lot.”

For the original dance this season, Lichtman and Copely are doing a Georgian folk dance to “Lezginka” and “Suliko”.

“I wanted to do a Kazakhstan folk dance from ‘Borat’,” Copely said. “Igor liked it, but Marina was not a fan.”

As a new couple, the dancers don’t have a favorite style of music. “You can learn something from every style of dance,” Lichtman noted. “But I’m more comfortable with classical pieces.”

“I really love listening to country music, but I also like pop and rock,” Lichtman said, while Copely stated, “I generally listen to anything. I like oldies, techno, even country.”

Off ice, Lichtman said, “I do normal stuff. I spend time with my family and friends, go shopping and watch movies. Copely said, “I like to have fun with my car. I like to drive around and drift it.”

Lichtman is a junior at Northville High School and plans to attend college in the future. “I’m interested in English and in the arts but I’m not positive about what I want to do,” she said. “I also like writing, more on the creative side than journalism.’

“My Mom is an interior designer,” she continued. “I grew up going with her to people’s houses and the Michigan Design Center. I’d like to do something in the design world. I’m interested in designing clothes and doing concepts for rooms. I even redesigned mine.”

Copely is studying business at Schoolcraft College. “I want to open a small business of my own and also coach skating,” he said.

“We hope to continue for a really long time,” Lichtman noted, “at least through the 2014 Olympics. As long as I can do it and enjoy myself, I’ll keep competing.”

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