In this Q&A, we introduce you to Brooke Tufts, an ice dancer who competes in the senior solo combined dance events. She won the 2021 U.S. National Solo Dance Finals and finished second at the 2022 U.S. National Solo Dance Finals. She trains with Krigor Studio at Montclair State University and is coached by Igor Lukanin and Kristin Fraser.
Tell us about how your skating journey began. What drew you to the ice? Do you have any special memories?
My skating journey started when I was just 3 years old. When people ask me how I started skating I say “Well my family took me skating one day and apparently I didn’t want to get off the ice”. My family set me up with a coach at my home rink at the time and off it went from there.
From a young age I loved to do choreography and come up with my own routines. My grandmother would cut music for me and if I had extra time to practice I would make my own routines for fun, even as I got older it became almost therapeutic to just play music and skate.
When and why did you choose to do solo dance?
I started solo dance when I was 14 due to an injury in my spine. I grew up in freestyle skating and I was always told I should be an ice dancer since I loved the choreography so much. When I injured my spine I was told I most likely wouldn’t be able to jump again so I chose to try ice dancing. When I started dance I didn’t want to compete in solo dance and I wanted a partner but as time went on and my coaches and I realized trying to find a partner is very difficult, so my coaches gave me a little extra push to compete solo and it was the best decision we made for my skating.
What do you like most about Solo Dance? What kind of music to you like to skate to the best? Why?
To sum up what I like the most about solo dance I’d say the family aspect it’s given me with great coaches and training mates is my favorite part but, Solo dance also changed me as a skater. It brought me so many opportunities, and gave me the joy in skating again. Solo dance has great community of skaters and they give so much support.
Latin style music is my favorite to skate too, its fun, energetic, sexy, and strong. I’ve done many different styles, but latin has topped them all.
Tell us about your training site. (Location, facilities, dance mates, classes, coaches, etc.)
I train at Montclair State University arena with Krigor studios. Since we train on a college campus, we have access to the track, fields, tennis courts etc, so in the summer we get to do a lot of off ice training outside. With Krigor studios, we have multiple off ice classes that range from dynamic movement, conditioning classes, and all different styles of dance. All of the Krigor skaters are like one big family with each other. Kristen and Igor have to be the most dedicated coaches I know. They start at 5:00am and end at 5:00pm somedays even 6:00pm, to make sure that all of their skaters receive the best training. All of my dance mates are extremely supportive of each other on and off the ice. No matter the age or level we are always cheering each other on during practice and competitions.
Who choreographed your programs. What do you like best about dancing them?
My coach Igor Lukanin has choreographed all of my solo dance programs. I love doing choreography with Igor because sometimes we come up with ideas together that always end up making some difficult, but amazing choreography. This season my rhythm dance is a latin style (cha cha, rhumba, cha cha) and my free dance is “Riverdance’. My rhythm dance is my coaches (Kristen Fraser and Igor Lukanin) music from the 2006 olympics so besides latin being my favorite style to dance too, having it be their music makes it a little more special to me.
We talked about me skating to Riverdance last summer and we never found any other music for a free dance that we thought could top it. The music is nothing like what I’ve done already and we wanted to choreograph something that everyone would want to come and watch. Every time I perform “Riverdance’ I strive to make sure that the audience forgets they are watching a competition and to make them feel like they’re watching a show, and that is the best feeling to me.
Solo Dance will be an international discipline this season? Share your thoughts about this change.
Solo dance being an international discipline is amazing. It truly opens up a door to so many skaters in other countries and skaters that struggle to find a partner. Making it an international discipline really shows how much solo dance has improved and grown.
In skating, what are you most looking forward to this season? What will be your biggest challenge(s)?
I’m looking forward to the summer competitions when all of the Krigor studio skaters come. We are such a supportive group and it makes it so much fun when we are all together. I go into each season with a goal. I want to improve from the season before, have better programs, and obviously my main goal is to win nationals, so you could say winning nationals is my biggest challenge.
If you could have a lesson with any ice dancer past/present, who would it be? Why?
I’m sure plenty of people have the same answer, but I would say Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir or Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue. I always loved both teams creativity, musicality and strength.
What are your favorite off-ice activities?
Some of my favorite off-ice activities are dancing, hanging out with my friends and going to the beach. I absolutely stand by having time to yourself and having a day to recuperate after a long week at the rink to reset and get ready for another week.
Please share anything else you would like our readers to know about you as a skater.
I never ever thought I would be an ice dancer, let alone a solo ice dancer. Growing up in a very freestyle dominant rink, ice dancing was not something I ever considered. I was always told I should have been an ice dancer since I wasn’t the best jumper, but I never considered it. When one door closes another opens and ice dancing was the best door that could’ve opened for me. It brought me a new look on skating, a second family, and everything I could wish for.