New Team Series: Amy Cui & Jonathan Rogers

Welcome to IDC’s New Team Series! For this series, we interview athletes who will enter the upcoming 2024-25 season in a new partnership, or debuted last season. In our first interview, we check in with Amy Cui (18) & Jonathan Rogers (21) who represent the United States.  

Tell us about your skating journeys, including any early special memories.
Amy Cui (AC):: I started my skating journey as a single skater and transitioned to ice dance last season. The most special part of my ice skating journey has definitely been sharing it with my younger sister, Ela. We have grown up together at the ice rink and I am so lucky to share my love of skating and so many of my skating memories with her.

Jonathan Rogers (JR): My interest in skating began after watching my sister learn how to skate. I began as a single skater and followed that path for about ten years before finding ice dance. I was never a good jumper, but I loved the attention and performing for others. I’d argue one of my most captivating performances was in my early competition days skating as Winnie the Pooh.

What drew you to ice dance?
AC: To be honest, I had no idea ice dance was a discipline until a few years ago. I never really paid much attention to dance until dance final was at my home club in Boston. While watching the senior teams, I fell in love with how ice dance was this powerful combination of musicality, teamwork, and performance. One of my favorite parts about skating, even as a single skater, is the performative aspect and ice dance is that perfect fusion of athleticism and drama.

JR: When I was younger, I loved participating in the ice dance group classes, which only occurred once a week in the summer months. I looked forward to it every year, and each time found myself increasing the intense joy I found in movement and music. This was not the only thing that led me to my path of ice dance, but it certainly made an impact.

Tell us how your partnership started (Partner Search, training mate, etc.) Describe the tryout.
We had a relatively short tryout and were pleasantly surprised at how many things came naturally to us. Also, because we both moved to Novi around the same time, we had already become good friends which set the foundation for our partnership. This allowed us to bypass a lot of the initial hurdles that come with a new partnership.

What is it that you already like most about dancing with your new partner?
AC: One of my favorite things about Jonathan is his energy. He has this fire about him and I can tell that he genuinely loves skating and what he does. There is never a dull moment and I always look forward to skating with him.

JR: One of my favorite things about Amy is that she is like a sponge. She’s always wanting to try new things, figure out how elements work, and consistently maintains a positive attitude while doing so. Also, whenever Amy makes a brand-new discovery or figures something out, she has the longest “ohhhhhhh” and her face lights up. It’s so fun to watch. 🙂

What experiences do each of you bring to the partnership? 
AC: I have been skating competitively for about eight years and have had the privilege to compete internationally representing Team USA.

JR: I have a little over six years of ice dance experience, part of which I’ve had the privilege of representing Team USA internationally. Also, by training in multiple locations over the years, I’ve worked with numerous coaches and various styles of skating which has allowed me to broaden my skating knowledge.

What has been the biggest adjustment for each of you so far in the partnership?
AC: With being so new to ice dance, I am learning new skills and techniques in a nonlinear fashion. Of course, the transition takes time and I am so fortunate to have an incredibly patient partner who believes in my abilities and our team.

JR: One of the biggest adjustments has been navigating styles of skating. I believe that Amy and I are fortunate in movement and lines. Many of these aspects come naturally to us, but leave us with an abundance of material that doesn’t always match. This can be quite frustrating, but we also find the process enjoyable and rewarding.

Tell us about your training site. 
We train in Novi, Michigan with Igor Shpilband, Pasquale Camerlengo, Natalia Deller, and Adrienne Lenda. We are both students, so our training schedule is not consistent year-round, but our training day is usually concentrated in the morning and school in the afternoon.

Who is choreographing your programs? Is someone else arranging your music? 
Our programs are choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo, Igor Shpilband, and Renee Petkovski. We are also working with Sk8mix Hugo for the musical composition of our programs this year.

If you could have a lesson with any ice dancer past/present, who would it be? Why?
AC: “Tessa Virtue” – Tessa and Scott are such an iconic duo. I remember first watching their 2018 Moulin Rouge Olympic performance and thinking, “Wow they are truly something special” and wanting to captivate the audience with such a performance like theirs one day. I look up to Tessa for her calmness and cool confidence on the ice and would love to get to know more about her thought process before stepping on the ice.
JR: “Piper Gilles” – Piper has so much experience and wisdom to offer, not just on the ice, but off the ice as well. I feel like being elite athletes as well as people outside of skating, has us burning the candle at both ends. Everything suffers. I believe Piper is a role model, both on and off the ice, showing that there is a balance to taking care of ourselves and overcoming hardships while still being able to pursue your passions as an ice dancer. I could only hope to learn and emulate Piper’s commitment to being “athlete” and “person”.

What is each of you looking forward to most this skating season? What will be your biggest challenge(s)?
We are really looking forward to performing each of our programs this season. We’re hoping to have fun, engage with the audience, and make a strong senior debut.

What is your debut competition this season?
Our first event is the Dallas Classic in July.

Please share anything you would like our readers to know about you as a team.
It has been a lifelong dream for both of us to perform and travel around Japan. We are looking forward to new experiences and memories together on and off the ice.

P.S. Amy has a terrible British accent