Maureen Ibanez and Neil Brown are a junior team representing France. Ibanez and Brown finished sixth and ninth at their JGP event this season and second at the French Masters competition. They are coached by Muriel Boucher-Zazoui and Romain Haguenauer.
When did you start skating and how long have you been ice dancing?
Maureen: I started skating 11 years ago, when I was 7 years old. I’ve been doing ice dancing for 6 years.
Neil: I was 7 years old when I started skating, and got into ice dancing about two years later.
How did you get started in skating?
Maureen: When I was young my parents took me to ice rinks when we were on holiday in the mountains. I watched competitions on the television and tried to copy the skaters. My best friend did ice skating, so it’s really thanks to her that I began to skate.
Neil: I was introduced to skating by my parents who were looking for a winter sport we could do altogether as a family.
What made you choose ice dancing?
Maureen: When I started skating I did both singles and ice dance, but I quickly gravitated towards ice dance because I was particularly attracted by the choreographic side to this discipline.
Neil: I didn’t exactly choose this particular discipline, but my trainers saw me as a dancer and I was asked to join the competition section. As it was all new to me in any case, I didn’t object and haven’t looked back since!
How long have you been skating together?
Maureen/Neil: We started skating together in March 2007, which makes it now 8 months.
What is your favourite compulsory dance?
Maureen: I really like the Austrian Waltz : it’s quite difficult, but very enjoyable to do. But my real favourite is the Tango Romantica which is a dance with a lot of character. I hope one day I’ll get to skate it!
Neil: This year my favourite dance is the Viennese Waltz. But out of all the dances, I really like the Golden Waltz and the Rhumba.
What is your favourite dance element?
Maureen: Without a doubt, the lifts – I feel like I’m flying!
Neil: There’s not really one element that stands out, but I do like twizzles.
Who are your role models in skating?
Maureen: Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon : for me they are THE perfect dance couple !
Neil: I’ve always looked up to the Lithuanian couple, Dobriazko-Vanagas, and also the German couple, Winkler-Lohse.
What do you like best about skating with your partner?
Maureen: The complicity which exists between us, and the desire to continually improve.
Neil: I appreciate the fact that Maureen is very supple. We work things through together until we get them right.
What do you like most about training with your coaches?
Maureen: What I like best is that they’re there to tell us what needs improving in our skating and point out our weaknesses, but when we do something good they also praise us. In either case they remain objective, which makes us want to progress and it’s a nice atmosphere to work in. The trainers choreograph our programmes but we can give our input as well. In this way we have a certain amount of freedom to add our personal touch to our skating.
Neil: I love the fact that we make a really good team – having three coaches is great! It’s important to have different opinions and diversity in order to be creative. Each person complements the other and we all have our say.
What is your favourite school subject?
Maureen: History – I’m in my first year at university studying this subject.
Neil: Philosophy and languages.
What are your hobbies?
Maureen: I love any kind of dance. I also like reading, going out with friends, shopping, and looking after my three little tortoises! I would also like to travel.
Neil: Music, playing the piano, cinema, all kinds of sport, travel.
Who are your role models (non-skating)?
Maureen: I really admire Maurice Béjart, the great French choreographer who has directed more than 250 ballets. He brought a breath of fresh air to dance.
What are your non-skating goals?
Maureen: I chose to study History which is the other passion in my life, my aim being to make a successful career in one or other of my main interests.
Neil: First of all, this year I want to pass my Bac. After that I would like to pursue international studies in order to create or facilitate various career opportunities for the future.
What is something that ice-dance.com readers may not know about you?
Neil: I am bilingual in English and French.