2012 Benefit Gala Performance - Photo by Norbert Schramm
2022-2023 Season Performers:
Ensemble Director: Elisa Angeli;
Performers: Armen Agaian, Danil Berdnikov, Collin Brubaker, Mauro Bruni, Angela Chiang, Sarah France, Mariko Heimbach, Ale Izquierdo, Kata Junninen, Jennifer Kass, Angela Kim, Valerie Levine, Karina Manta, Freddie Moore, Andrew Saelee, Kseniya Ponomaryova, Liz Schmidt, Aaron Singletary. Figures performer Kate Mangiardi.
Guest Skaters: Jason Brown, Rohene Ward, Oona & Gage Brown
ELISA ANGELI joined ITNY in 2008, including on ITNY’s 2008 Tour in France. Becoming the Ensemble Director in 2015, Elisa has choreographed numerous works for ITNY. Elisa is an Italian Champion ice dancer with recognition from the Italian Federation for Ice Skating, studied Ballet with Ludmilla Vlassova (Bolshoi) and Giovanna Franzosi in Milan; also with Christine Wright at the Gibney Dance Center. She studied Modern and Contemporary Dance at the Open Dance Center and at the Music, Art and Shows School, Milan and Aerial Silks at Streb, Circus Warehouse, and Trapeze School in New York. Elisa had several years of contortion and extreme flexibility classes with J. Noan and O. Karmansky. Her expertise as a circus arts specialist allows Elisa to bring a unique element of excitement when skating as a principal performer and aerialist with ITNY. In 2009, Elisa participated with ITNY at the première of Wintuk by Cirque du Soleil at Madison Square Garden. In Italy, she toured with Italian Champions on Ice, and Ghiaccio Spettacolo as an aerialist and performed in Munich with Spotlight Productions. Elisa has worked as an aerialist since 2014, with Cirque-tacular Entertainment, with which she performed in the show The Art of Circus in September 2016.
ARMEN AGAIAN joined Ice Theatre of New York® as an artist in 2018. He has been ice skating since 2002, developing into a five-time National Champion in his native country of Georgia, and participated in the Junior World Championships three times. He also participated in the 2013 Youth Olympic Games, the Junior Grand Prix (2012-2015) and the 2016 European Championships. When not performing, Armen works as a skating coach in New York.
MAURO BRUNI, MBA, BFA, first performed with ITNY in 2014. A leader in the professional figure skating community, Mauro works as an ice performer, as well as a coach, choreographer, and show director. He has taught students in the USA, Mexico, Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Austria. Credits include: Ice Theatre of London creator and founder; House of Mauro creator and founder; Navesink Country Club Artistic Director; lead performer in numerous ice skating productions globally most notably: Holiday on Ice -- star performer between 2007-2018; show director and choreographer for productions in Europe, North America and internationally; head choreographer at the Trelleborgskonståkningsklubb in Trelleborg, Sweden 2016-17. Awards include: US Professional Championships Groundbreaker award; Moins5 choreography award in Monéteau, France; ProSkaters Virtual Skateoff champion. Mauro has been recognized as an AIT certified choreographer PSA rated free skating coach and choreographer, and national and international competitor for Team USA from 1995-2005. @maurojbruni
DANIL BERDNIKOV has been with ITNY for two seasons. He hails from the city of Samara, Russia, from which he competed as part of the junior national team, as well as across his vast native land through high school. He then moved to Moscow both to continue his education and to join Stage Entertainment Russia to begin performing as a skater. Performing for an audience allowed Danil to fall in love with skating in a new way and his career has blossomed over eight years with Willy Bietak Productions and Wheeler Productions in the United States, Stageworks Worldwide Production in the UK, and Holiday on Ice Productions and Dynamic Shows Entertainment in the EU. Danil is grateful to his parents, coaches, choreographers, and the fellow skaters who have supported him along the way.
This award is given to someone who is accomplished within our ice dance world and has stayed connected to the field beyond their own performances; someone who has given back to our "icy" world and has been a role model for others to follow.
Jason Lawrence Brown At the World Championships in Saitama, Japan, in March of 2023, Jason presented two breathtaking performances with choreography by Rohene Ward. He placed 5th overall and received the highest program component score of the competition. He followed this with a Team Gold at the World Team Challenge in April in Tokyo, Japan. Jason is also the 2015 U.S. national champion, a nine-time medalist on the Grand Prix circuit and a two-time Four Continents medalist. Jason won a bronze medal in the team event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, becoming one of the youngest male figure skating Olympic medalists. Known as one of the world's most artistic skaters, some of Jason's programs have become iconic, including his Irish step dance free program and his 2021 short program to the music of Nina Simone with choreography by Rohene Ward. His two programs from 2023 will certainly be added to this list. Jason is hugely popular around the world and particularly in Japan, which has prompted him to learn the language, to the delight of his Japanese fans. Jason was the host of ITNY's streaming broadcast "Pivoting Through The Pandemic" in May of 2021. His coaches are Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser (ITNY's 2017 Past Masters Award Recipient).
OONA & GAGE BROWN
OONA & GAGE BROWN, are a sister and brother U.S. ice dance team from Long Island, NY. They were crowned the 2022 World Junior Ice Dance Champions last April in Tallinn, Estonia! Since then, they have made the transition to the senior level and have just recently competed for Team USA at two Grand Prix events this past season. Oona and Gage perform regularly with ITNY, while training with their coaches, Inese Bucevica and ITNY choreographer, Joel Dear, for over three years. This year, they have started part-time training with the Ice Academy of Montreal! Oona and Gage are looking forward to this upcoming season and are so excited for this new experience and environment.
ANGELA CHIANG credits her accomplishments in skating to her mother's and grandmother’s encouragement. Both dreamt of becoming graceful figure skaters and Angela has found skating with ITNY, which she joined as a young apprentice, to be truly instrumental in developing her artistry. Her passion for figure skating started as soon as she stepped on the ice at age four in her native New Jersey. A USFS double gold medalist and graduate of NYU with a B.A. in Journalism and Metropolitan Studies, Angela went on from her competitive career to work as an instructor for Figure Skating in Harlem, a member of the NHL New York Rangers City Skaters squad, House of Mauro performer and a beloved coach at Chelsea Piers over the past 18 years. A full-fledged cast member on and off with ITNY since 2003, she feels thrilled to perform with the cast this season!
Performer/Director of Outreach Programming
SARAH FRANCE joined the ITNY in 2018, bringing her passion for ice dancing and broad knowledge of skating skills, choreographic styles, and skating disciplines to the company. Sarah has translated her skills to many different areas as both the Director of Outreach and within the ITNY Professional Ensemble, in addition to being a choreographer, edge class instructor, aerialist, inline skater, dancer, and off ice instructor. Her dedication to skating and desire to share her love of the ice with others has made her a sought after instructor and performer, who firmly believes in the life-transforming nature of skating. She is a six-time US Open Professional Figure Skating Championships competitor, national ice dance competitor, US Figure Skating triple gold medalist, and is honored to realize her childhood dream of performing as a member of ITNY. In addition to her work with ITNY, Sarah’s skills have been highly valued in training developmental through internationally competitive skaters, working as a coach, choreographer, and program director. She is a faculty member for Shattuck-St. Mary’s International Figure Skating Center of Excellence training camps, and a welcomed guest coach in skating programs around the world. Her well-rounded education on and off the ice has allowed her to flexibly work in all disciplines of skating, and she loves to share her passion for movement, glide, and artistic expression with others through performing, teaching, and introducing others to the joy of skating.
MARIKO HEIMBACH is a former Professional Figure Skater for Disney On Ice and toured with the show for over a decade. She grew up in Tokyo, Japan and began skating at the age of 7. She trained at the Shinyokohama Figure Skating Club in Japan alongside Olympians Shizuka Arakawa and Fumie Suguri. Mariko continued her competitive career in Japan and was an All Japan National Championship competitor. At the age of 17, her career took flight as she began her dream job with Disney On Ice. Since then, she has been to 55 different countries, performed for millions of people as both an ensemble and principal performer, and has met some of the most talented entertainers in the world. She portrayed the roles of Mulan, Pocahontas, Princess Jasmine, Mrs. Incredible, Dory, and many more! Mariko joined Ice Theatre of New York in 2023 and is thrilled to be a part of the Home Season!
ALE IZQUIERDO has been a member of ITNY since 2011, and performed as part of the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in the 2021-2022 season. A native of Léon, Guanajuato, Mexico, Ale started figure skating at age 8, becoming a three-time Mexican national champion, and she won first place at the International Santis Cup Switzerland in 2007. She moved to the USA in 2009, to train under the tutelage of the Ukrainian team of Victor Petrenko, Galina Zmievskaya and Nina Petrenko at the Ice House in Hackensack, NJ. She performed in Dancing on Ice with Torvill & Dean in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands. Ale has been the advertising face of Polyglide Ice, a surface ITNY uses in its studio.
KATA JUNNINENis a 26-year-old skater, actor/performer, and aspiring choreographer originally from Finland. She’s skated since she was three years old, but for most of her career, she specialized in Synchronized Skating. During her 20-year career, Kata has represented Finland internationally since 2010 and competed at the highest level in the Senior division since 2015. She has represented three countries, Finland, Sweden, and the USA in synchro and finished her career as a member of Team USA on the synchronized skating World Team 2018-2020. She has always loved performing and has a degree in Acting for Film and Television from NYCDA. Kata joined ITNY in 2021 and is thrilled to be a part of the 2023 Home Season!
THERON JAMES (TJ)
THERON JAMES (TJ) made his ITNY debut in the 2019 City Skate Concert Series, when he skated “Presence," a piece which acknowledges the presence and absence of blackness within the predominately white space of skating in honor of Black History Month. Following his amateur career as a national level skater, TJ joined his first touring ice show in 2009 and has been a principal soloist for most major professional companies, including Holiday On Ice, Disney On Ice, Royal Caribbean, and many more through the span of his vibrant career. He has also performed for television shows such as Dancing On Ice and Instinct through ITNY with Alan Cumming on CBS. When TJ is not performing, he is a full-time real estate agent and advisor here in NYC with Nestseekers International.
JENNIFER KASS has been a member of the ITNY Ensemble since 2017. A Colorado native, Jennifer spent 16 years competing in the Southwestern Region before following her dreams of becoming a professional performer. After graduating from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Anthropology, Jennifer spent five years traveling the world with Disney On Ice. She wrapped up her touring career in December 2016, to pursue more of her dreams in New York City, where she finds herself coaching, choreographing, and performing more than ever. Jennifer has performed on screen for Disney On Ice media, Saturday Night Live, SELF magazine, Sleep Number, and other local entertainment providers. Jennifer is the Director of Figure Skating at Navesink Country Club in Red Bank, NJ.
VALERIE LEVINE has collaborated on ITNY events for the past two decades and has been roller-skating as well as dancing tap, jazz, and ballet since the age of four. She started training in figure skating at 11, going on to compete and test until graduating high school, when she turned down Disney On Ice to pursue her Bachelor’s degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). At 19, she earned her gold level in Senior Ladies Moves and pre-golds in ice dance before skating professionally. While earning her BS in Product Management Textiles from FIT, she minored in dance and trained at Broadway Dance Center in many dance styles, leading to an off-ice career as a professional belly dancer, ballroom dancer, and samba dancer. She currently teaches and performs these styles worldwide, while managing her own entertainment company Valerina Dance, which can be followed at ValerieLevine.com or on Instagram @Valerielevine.
KARINA MANTA is an ice dancer and former international medalist and Grand Prix competitor for Team USA with her partner, Joe Johnson. Since retiring from competitive skating, she has toured with the Cirque du Soleil show AXEL and performed as a professional for the UK television series, Dancing on Ice, which she and her celebrity partner won in the 2021-22 season. Karina is the author of the young adult memoir, On Top of Glass (Knopf 2021) about growing up queer in figure skating.
FREDDIE MOORE joined ITNY in 2018. She is a Brooklyn native and U.S. Figure Skating triple gold medalist, who, with ITNY, has performed at events for Chanel, as well as for Phillip Glass at Rockefeller Center. She has also performed alongside Beth Woronoff in the Hudson Valley. She currently coaches skaters of all ages at Sky Rink and specializes in Moves-in-the-Field. Freddie holds a BA in Creative Writing and has published her work in Electric Literature and Hazlitt, among other places. One of her favorite quotes from Walt Whitman is: “And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?”
LIZ YOSHIKO SCHMIDT
LIZ YOSHIKO SCHMIDT has been skating with ITNY since 2017. Luscious edges, artistic movement, and ice dancing inform her skating and professional career, which began in 2013, at the age of 18, performing internationally in Europe, Egypt, and across the US. She is a Japanese/German American skater who hails from Chicago, IL, and recently moved from San Francisco, CA, to New York City. A U.S. Figure Skating double gold medalist in Freestyle and Moves in the Field, and a silver medalist in Ice Dancing. Liz received her BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2018, has an art studio in Brooklyn, and is the creator of ice fashion line Dansu Wear.
AARON SINGLETARY grew up in Pennsylvania skating for the Penguin Figure Skating Club and started his national competitive career training with Craig Maurizi at the Ice House in Hackensack, NJ. Aaron earned gold in Moves in the Field as well as singles Freestyle. Aaron now coaches primarily at City Ice Pavilion in New York City. Over the years, Aaron has had many internationally revered coaches. Each left a prominent mark on his approach to skating and singling out one or two would be a disservice to the others. He aims to further his knowledge so that one day he too may be an internationally recognized performer and coach. The 2019 Home Season marked his debut with ITNY.
MATT THOMAS remembers seeing ITNY perform at Rockefeller Center as a young boy and feels privileged to have become a member of the educational outreach and performance groups of ITNY able to pass on that dream over the last three years. Introduced to skating through the Learn to Skate Program in Syracuse, NY, he continued to train as a figure skating competitor and in 1998 became the Eastern Sectional Champion. He has always loved the ice and considers himself blessed to still be skating three decades plus from his initiation and spreading the joy through his continuing career as a skating coach. A professional saxophonist, Matt holds a Bachelor's in music from SUNY Buffalo, and performs regularly both in NYC and internationally.
ROHENE WARD is one of the most popular and widely traveled show skaters in the world. A longtime principal with Holiday on Ice, he drew standing ovations throughout Europe, and has performed with ITNY's company at Rockefeller Center and in its 2016 home season. His combination of originality, flexibility, and technical strength makes every one of his programs unique, entertaining, and meaningful. A four-time competitor at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Ward won the Puerto Rican men's title in 2004, and the Professional Open crown in 2016. As a choreographer, he has won the Professional Skater's Association EDI Award three times, in 2015, 2017, and 2021, the first Black choreographer so honored. While his longtime partnership with Jason Brown is his most renowned collaboration, he has also created successful programs for 2023 world women's champion Kaori Sakamoto; 2023 world ice dance champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates; 2022 U.S. women’s champion Mariah Bell; and many other competitors. His home base is Chicago, where he and coaching partner Amber Gil direct the skating school at the Glenview Community Ice Center. Rohene serves on the Board of Diversify Ice Foundation, which strives to provide sponsorship, mentorship, networks, and opportunities to underrepresented figure skaters. ITNY is proud to recognize him with the 2023 Choreography Award.