Junior Dancers Off to Good Start

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager

Lauri Bonacorsi and Travis Mager won the novice dance title at the 2009 U. S. Nationals in their first season together and are now competing in juniors.

“We set goals for the season and reassess as we go along,” Mager said. “This year, we would love to go to Junior Worlds. We don’t have any explicit long-term goals. We just want to go as far as we can with each other.”

“We went into Nationals with no expectations last year,” Mager said. “We did great competition-wise but it was really a growing year.”

The dancers won the bronze medal at their first ISU Junior Grand Prix in Lake Placid, NY in September 2009 and placed ninth at the ISU JGP in Dresden, Germany, their first competition overseas.

“We had a lot of success last season,” Bonacorsi noted, “and we were hoping to get a Junior Grand Prix, so we were very happy to get two. Dresden was our first time overseas and it was a great learning experience for us.”

“It’s hard to face disappointments, but we learned to just trust ourselves and concentrate on our skating,” Mager added. “If you know that you and your partner are trained and let your performances sing, that’s all you can ask for.”

“We try to give our all in practice,” he continued. “But we learned to give something extra when you think you can’t give any more. Nothing is too small to not get noticed by the judges.”

Mager, 19, began skating at the age of nine. “I did gymnastics until I was six,” he recalled. “The gym was next to the skating rink. After I finished gymnastics, I was still tumbling everywhere because I had a lot of excess energy and I needed to find an outlet. Scott Smith’s father was the headmaster at my school and every year they had a skating party. I liked it and begged my mom to let me learn to skate.”

“I passed my levels really quickly,” he said. “I had a private coach within a year and worked with Denise Cahill from intermediate until I had my double Axel. But I had one failing. I liked to share the spotlight.”

“There weren’t any pairs at my rink, but I had been taking edge classes with Genrikh Sretenski to improve my skating and he matched me with Lauren Ely for dance. We lived across the street and had grown up skating together. But she was involved in school and was a drum major in the band. When she moved away after high school to go to college, I wanted to continue working with Greg Maddalone so I stayed. Greg started coaching me when my former coach moved to California.”

Ely and Mager couple were fifth in juvenile dance in 2006, fourth in intermediate in 2007, and ninth in novice in 2008.

“I started looking for a partner on icepartnersearch.com,” he continued. “I wanted to find a girl who was willing to move and would have some longevity. Age was a factor since I wanted someone with the same amount of eligibility for Junior Grand Prixs.”

“We had a tryout in February 2008 and things sort of fell into place,” he noted. “We decided to skate together in April, but Lauri had to finish school in Texas. Then she moved to Maryland in the summer.

Bonacorsi, who is 16, started skating when she was four. “My brother was playing hockey and I was always at the rink,” she said. “I skated about two times a week until I was eleven. I also did gymnastics, tennis, swimming, field hockey, basketball, soccer, baseball, and ballet. My parents believed in exposing me to all kinds of sports, and letting my choose my passion, and when I was 11, I decided I wanted to pursue ice dance.”

“I’ve always liked to dance since I was little,” she added. “I did a little bit of ice dancing when I was younger. I started out doing freestyle and did that recreationally for several years and competed in some local competitions, but when I started taking ice dance lessons is when I fell in love with the sport. I tested through my gold dances and really enjoyed it.”

Greg Maddalone, Robbie Kaine, and Genrikh Sretenski coach the dancers who train in Laurel, MD. “We train from three to four hours a day, then often do an hour of off ice ballet or ballroom or strength and core training,” Bonacorsi said.

Genrikh Sretenski choreographed the dancers’ programs for the 2009-10 season. His wife, Julia, works with the couple on refining the dance once it has been choreographed.

For the original dance, the couple is doing an Italian folk dance to “Tarantella Medley” by Al Ciaola.

“I found the original dance music,” Mager said. “We spent a lot of time thinking about it. We bounced around a lot of ideas — a Mexican hat dance, Jewish folk, Bollywood and Latin. When we decided on the Italian folk dance, we brought in dozens from iTunes. At first I didn’t like it, but Genrikh said that it’s 2:35 without being cut and we kept going back to it.”

“We wanted something different,” Bonacorsi said. “We wanted to be as authentic as we could with the music and the costumes and the execution. It was really difficult at first, but now it’s fun and more comfortable.”

Their free dance is “The River Flows in You” by Yiruma and “I Giorni” by Ludovico Einaudi.

“That’s our favorite style,” Bonacorsi said. “It’s more comfortable for us. Greg’s wife, Sarah, found the music for us. Itís from ‘Twilight’ and I loved it. Travis wasnít so sure about it when he heard it was from the movie. But he loved the music from the start, and eventually saw the movie and really liked it.”

Bonacorsi, who used to play the piano, loves to listen to music. “I like fun music I can dance to or sing along with,” she said.

“We make each other CDs,” Mager noted. “I like jazz, mash ups, and indy. I like ABBA and I listen to Debussy when I’m studying. I’m not a big fan of the top 40 but I listen to my friends’ music. I can’t workout or run without my iPod.”

Both of the dancers are honor students. Bonacorsi is a junior at River Hill High School in Clarksville, Maryland. She plans to apply to colleges nearby to study business or law. Mager is a sophomore at the University of Maryland studying art history. He lives on campus and takes a full load of classes.

“It’s my way into the art world without being talented,” Mager said. “I love museums and all kinds of art. I’m very visually inclined.

Off ice, she likes to be with her friends and family, make soap, read, dance, write and take photographs.

She also volunteers on Sundays at a thrift shop that raises funds to provide business attire to underprivileged and unemployed women to help them get back into the work force. Mager helps coach Learn to Skate classes when he can.

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