Marie-France Dubreuil founded the Ice Academy of Montreal with her husband and former ice partner Patrice Lauzon and the French choreographer Romain Haguenauer. They have had many successes for a few years, with couples like Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, and Madison Chock & Evan Bates, 2023 world champions. Marie-France was in Saitama for the world championships with her five colleagues and their ten (!) pairs of dancers. We met her on this occasion.
Solène: The dancers at the Ice Academy of Montreal speak of your training center as a structured but family place. What is your vision?
Marie-France: We try to create a culture of excellence with these athletes and a community that becomes a family. They hang out a lot together outside the rink. We like things to be well done, clear, and structured, but we also want to develop everyone's personalities and personalize the training to make it work with each of them. It's not a factory where we do everything the same way. The structure is organized, but we adapt to the needs of each couple.
Solène: You train the best couples in the world, who compete on the ice. How do you ensure that the Ice Academy of Montreal keeps this family atmosphere?
Marie-France: We offer holistic training. Every couple at the Ice Academy of Montreal understands that the real competition is not with their competitors but with themselves. They work to become better physically, technically, emotionally, and mentally. The objective is not to try to beat another couple but to develop and become better, competition after competition, and on all dimensions of one's being. Being a high-level skater is about more than just mastering technique and artistry. It's the development of a lifetime!
Solène: Do you still have plans to open a training center in Europe?
Marie-France: Yes… We have planted seeds and are waiting for the right opportunity. To open other centers, we need coaches who share the same values that we have in our two centers in Canada (Gadbois and London).
Solène: Maybe with former dancers from your school?
Marie-France: Yes (smile). We have a few dancers who will soon stop competing...
Solène: You also create choreography for individual skaters. What place do these projects have for you?
Marie-France: I don't do a lot of choreographies for individual skaters, but I like it. Individuals are always very dynamic, and I try to seek out their vulnerability. It's very stimulating. I choose projects that speak to me, one or two projects maximum per year.
Solène: You worked with Kaori Sakamoto, who speaks little English. Did body language enable you to overcome the language barrier?
Marie-France: Body language and Siri (laughs). The first video calls were complicated, but it became easier when we started to be on the ice together and move on to the music. She moves well and has been 100% invested in our work together.
Solène: The Korean couple you coach in Montreal, Hannah Lim and Ye Quan, is, in my eyes, one of the revelations of the junior season. Hannah especially has a strong stage presence. How do you work with them?
Marie-France: Hannah has no limits on what she can do with her body and her emotions. It's natural for her, and working with them to go even further is a pleasure. She doesn't want to interpret the music; she wants to be the music. It shows a very high level of commitment. Whether with the ballet teacher, the ballroom teacher, or on the ice, she immediately understands what we want to see with just a word or two of explanation. As for Ye, her partner, he is a mastermind and analyzes a lot. They are an artist and an architect. They complement each other very well!
Solène: To conclude, what inspires you?
Marie-France: My vacation (laughs)! I find my inspiration in many places, but I look forward to spending more time in nature.
Solène MATHIEU - Skate Info Glace