Emmy Bronsard, Ice Dancer

by Anne Calder | Photos by Melanie Heaney

Emmy Bronsard is a Canadian figure skater who grew up in Montreal with her mom and dogs, The 19 year-old is a full-time student at Collège Jean-de- Brébeuf.

“Even though I am not technically born in Montreal (born in Lévis, Québec), I consider myself a ‘born and raised-in-Montreal girl’.”

Bronsard began skating at the Gadbois Center when she was two and a half years old. She skated with the Club’s coaches – then, when she became more serious, she trained for several years with higher level freestyle coaches.

“I started in freestyle at my home skating club: CPA Gadbois. At the time, Aissa [Bouaraguia] (pictured, right) was also skating in CPA Gadbois.  Some of the coaches noticed that we were both left-handed skaters. We did a tryout together when I was about nine or ten. That’s when we both started ice dance. That’s where the whole competitive journey started as well!”

“I began doing dance tests when I was very young, but I had never really considered ice dance until I tried out with Aissa. I admired Tessa & Scott and the beauty of Ice Dance, but I wanted to jump and land triple axels.”

“However, when the tryout ended up being successful, Marie-France [Dubreuil], Patrice [Lauzon] and Pascal [Denis] took over for the Club coaches.

“We competed the next two years. After our first Skate Canada Challenge [as pre-Novice in December 2016] we split to concentrate on freestyle. That was a crucial moment for me as two paths were possible: pursuing a freestyle career or skating with a partner.”

Ice Dance or Freestyle?
Bronsard voiced the positives and negatives of both disciplines.

“If I am honest, I always have been a freestyle girl in the sense that I really enjoy skating alone, so skating with a partner was and still is a big adjustment for me. I can say that I am a rather “independent girl”, so I’ve always had a hard time following a partner’s lead, for example, accepting help to get up after a fall. Although, looking back, I think I improved from my first partnership. At least I hope I did!

“A difference [in couple dance] is you’re not in your own “skating bubble”. You must create a “third party” of some sort to allow you and your partner to skate as a whole… That might be very unclear, but ice dancers might know what I’m talking about.

“There are also numerous different elements and required skating qualities in both disciplines. For example, in freestyle, twizzles are just another step to get a level in a footwork, but in dance, there is a whole set of them that must be placed strategically in a program to create a “wow effect”. The “wow effects” in freestyle are mostly the jumps and maybe the creative elements like spirals.

“I’d say that both have their challenges, but the main difference is that in one you’re performing as a team in front of the judges (dance) and in the other, it’s only you (freestyle). Believe me, after dancing with a partner for more than five years, you feel very much alone – it’s a very unique feeling!

“Obviously, with my being in a Top-of-the-class ice dance school, I was influenced by my environment – I wanted to be part of them, and I wanted to be a champion.”

Second Time Around
Bronsard & Bouaraguia partnered back up as Juniors for the 2018-2019 season.

“When Aissa came back, I got the chance to reach high heights and get a little taste of what it was like to be part of the game. (at least in Junior) It was a great opportunity, and I’m so grateful for it.”

One of the perks was competing abroad in the Junior Grand Prix Series.

“Skating internationally is traveling the world with your passion alongside you. Not only you get to travel and have fun, but you also meet so many great people along the way, from both yours and other countries. I truly can’t express how amazing an opportunity it is.

“In terms of competition, I’d say Ostrava, Czech Republic – my very first JGP – was my favorite location. The venue was amazing, I met wonderful people. Some I still chat with from time to time. Also, I performed in my yellow dress. (All-time favorite). It was a competition where neither me nor my partner expected anything, and it ended up being one of our best performances ever. [The team finished fourth.]

“I even have a funny anecdote about this competition: after the short, I had to take a doping test. Mind you, I was only 13, and it was my first time doing it – but everything went well as I was accompanied by the best person (Manon Perron). Luckily enough, I needed to pee! Haha. All jokes aside, Ostrava, CZE was truly the greatest international competition experience for me.”

The second season back together, the team won the 2020 Canadian Nationals Junior Ice Dance gold medal.

“It was very special because we had just been through a rough patch,” Bronsard noted. “We barely missed Youth Olympics, and so this win was meaningful. There was also a funny story for me regarding this podium. In St. John’s, at the nationals the year before, I had told one of my fellow competitors at the time that I would be on the podium the next year, and it actually happened! Best thing: she was on the podium with me too. It was a very special moment. It really made me believe that when you put your mind to something, anything can happen.”

The team placed ninth at the World Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia. Covid raised havoc with the 2020-2021 skating schedules, cancelling the JGPs and the Canadian Championships. After attending a national team camp early in the month, the duo announced the end of their partnership on July 30, 2021.

Bronsard teamed up with Jacob Richmond in 2022 and competed at two international events and the 2023 and 2024 Canadian Championships on the senior level. The partnership ended after their second Nationals.

Solo Dance International
Three months later with help from a lot of friends, Emmy Bronsard was second at the Inaugural North American International Solo Dance event in Reston, Virginia.

The silver medalist shared the genesis of her preparation.

After Jacob and I split, I knew I did not want to stop skating, and that I did not want to wait around for a partner without having a purpose or a “short-term goal”.

“One of my teammates, as well as my coaches, spoke about an international solo ice dance competition, recognized by ISU, taking place in the Washington DC area in mid April.  After a couple of days, I thought why not and decided to browse for music to see if I would potentially like to perform *alone* in a competition again.”

“I sent official emails to my federation, Patinage Quebec and Patinage Canada, saying I was still looking for a partner, but that in the meantime I would try out solo ice dancing. I got good feedback, so I registered and started training more intensively and began working on my solo ice dance programs on March 20.”

“It was a mash-up of many programs I had. I kept my old freestyle music (Mozart) as a kind of message to myself: everything, in time. Hugo Chouinard from Studio Unison did that mix a while ago.”

“For the Rhythm Dance, skating on Cindy Lauper was a way of reminding myself to have fun. It was a journey to remember why I started all of this: for the exquisite feeling of gliding on the ice, for the satisfaction of feeling a wind brushing my face and letting music command my movements. AND, most of all, to have fun.”

“Romain LeGac, one of my I.AM teammates, kindly arranged the music for me.”

“Two weeks in, it all started to be quite fun. When I saw the post on the Washington Figure Skating Club’s account, it all became official.”

“The whole team helped me prepare for this competition: from Romain Haguenauer helping me read the rules, Sam Chouinard – Kaitlin Hawayek – Ginette Cournoyer – Marie-France Dubreuil helping me get more comfortable moving alone on the ice (and off ice) and to Josée Piché accompanying me to the competition. I.AM was with me all along the way.”

Bronsard shared her thoughts about competing at the history-making event.

“It was eye-opening for me. I went to this competition not knowing what to expect. I was really surprised by how well it was organized and how much potential it really had. I saw a high level of sportsmanship; it was such a healthy environment of competitors.

“One thing united all of us: our passion for the sport. And that was very special!”

“On Rhythm Dance Day, I can confidently say that I was very nervous. This was like jumping in a pool of unknown: I was alone again, in a new discipline and with two one-month-old programs. However, I came back the next day more motivated than ever, and I was satisfied with my Free Dance!

Bronsard was fourth after the Rhythm Dance. The next day, she vaulted into second place with her Mozart Free Dance – .66 points behind the gold medalist, Lucas Appel.

Bronsard commented on Solo Dance in general.

“Many talented skaters cannot explore their passion and have access to international level competitions because they don’t have a partner. Solo ice dance is a way to break the codes and explore their artistry.”

“It’s also the perfect opportunity to push the limits of what skaters can do with their bodies and a piece of music they enjoy. It doesn’t require jumps, so one can concentrate on the quality of the skating by creating an artistic moment without being worried about jumping.”

“Solo Ice Dance is a platform to display the art of skating skills, dancing and performance. It is also very healthy for the sport world to have a discipline that makes women and men compete against each other. It is the true meaning of a competition: “May the best skater win.

Goals and Memories
Bronsard shared some of her skating goals.

While I’m still looking for a partner, I do think that one of my short-term goals is to bring a solo ice dancing competition to Canada.  Another is I want to finish my CEGEP at school.”

“Long term for ice dancing, if I still haven’t found a partner, would be to take solo ice dance to another level – to make it more international.”

“Now, of course I would love to go to the Olympics as it is a target I’ve grown with my eyes on for as far as I can go in my memory.”

Bronsard reflected on some of her skating memories.

“When I was ten years old I asked my mother for a very special Christmas present: to have choreography with Marie-France Dubreuil. I’d say that’s one of my earliest and very clear memories.”

“When Marie-France and Adrian Diaz choreographed a Micmac program for me when I was in freestyle.”

“When I met Tessa and Scott for the first time at the rink (same thing for Gabriella and Guillaume).”

“My first medals… To be honest though, I don’t need to go very far for my best skating memory because the feeling of gliding on the ice is enough for me,  and that was just this morning.”