An Unseen Skaters special. January 4, 2004.
Mauro Bruni, 19, takes some time out to share an update with Unseen Skaters before his senior men's debut at 2004 Nationals in Atlanta. Bruni qualified for this year's Nationals by placing 4th at Eastern Sectionals in November 2003, and previously qualified for Nationals twice as a junior, placing 12th in 2001 and 7th in 2003. He represents the Skating Club of New York and trains in El Segundo, California, with coaches Ken Congemi and Frank Carroll. His long-time choreographer is Pat Curio.
Are you still taking classes at the University of Southern California? What year are you and have you decided on a major yet?
Yes, I am still at USC, although the BCS [Bowl Championship Series] discouraged me this year ... I am a fine arts major and up to this point I am 1/4 of the way into my sophomore year. I've been a part time student here for the past year and a half and, after Nationals, I am going to finish the spring semester as a full time student.
How do you balance school, skating, and off-ice activities?
It has not been that difficult actually. Since most of the classes that I take are either in the morning or at night, I can be at the rink for most of the day. Usually I can squeeze in a trip to the gym as well before hopping ack to USC for class.
How would you describe the coaching styles of Ken Congemi and Frank Carroll? How have they helped you improve as a skater in your second season of working with them? Have you also been working with any other coaches?
Ken and Frank always push me to be precise in everything I do on the ice, which is something I always really needed. Not that I was ever out of control with my skating, I just needed to be tamed a little bit. I think this year, more than ever, I've become very methodical in the jumping department. Russ Witherby choreographed a show program for me recently, and I still work with Pat Curio on a regular basis, but, besides these four, I haven't been taught by anyone else this season.
How do you feel about qualifying for your first Nationals at the Senior level? What are your goals for Nationals?
Of course it was a thrill to qualify for Nationals the year I moved up to Senior. It was a big surprise to me at the time because Easterns was full of really quality Senior Men this year. I can't say that I want to win Nationals this year... even though I do! This year I can only look forward to skating well in front of thousands of people for the first time!
What music are you using for your short program, and was it choreographed by Pat Curio? Could you give a few examples of what the choreographic process is like with her?
Yes, Pat Curio choreographed my new "Rhumba de la Noche" short program by Govi. I've never performed to a Spanish-themed piece before and it is really an exciting program for me! I love working with Pat. She has an extensive history as a ballet dancer and working with her is unlike any other choreographer. It is quite a collaboration. I know the skating moves, and she knows the ballet moves. The process of making a program is never-ending. We always lay down the traffic pattern of the program and see where the jumps will go in time with the music. This is first, of course. Footwork sequences are usually next, and are never finished until the last competition of the season. On top of that, the only thing left to incorporate is the fire and artistry. Many of the moves I use on the ice come from ballet. Some have been seen before on other skaters, but usually I like to do the things that no one has seen in skating. Pat watches every competition I am in and takes notes on everything. I may have skated great, but, if there is one hair out of place, she notices it! Too bad there's usually more than that to pick at! After each competition we make little changes here and there and by this time each year, everything is finished!
Why did you decide to return to your "Miss Saigon" program from last year?
This year I had originally had a new long program choreographed to David Lanz's "Skyline Firedance," but the program was really not the same level or quality as "Miss Saigon." I always like to tell a story in the long program. My artistry comes from feeling the music and bringing it to life. With the "Skyline Firedance" program, there was no story behind the music and nothing holding the program together as a whole. Plus, I, along with any skater, always skate better when I like my music. It was not hard converting the "Miss Saigon" program from Junior to Senior. Only 30 seconds needed to be added and it worked out that there was this much time that I had cut out of the program last year to make it a four minute junior long. This year, the new music is right in the ending.
What elements are you planning for your programs at Nationals?
I think I'd like to know that too! As of right now I am not doing the most
difficult programs by any means. I cannot yet do the triple axel so my
biggest trick will be the lutz. Beyond that, I will definitely be
performing a triple/triple combination but the jury is still out on which
one that will be...
In your January 14, 2003 spotlight interview, you colorfully described the differences between living in California with New York. Since you recently skated to Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" (choreographed by Russ Witherby) at the El Segundo rink's holiday show, does this mean you're missing your home state of New York just a little? ;-)
Haha! Well I will always be a "New Yorka" at heart, but I'm kind of getting
used to being a California boy! Tanning year-round is a great thing, isn't
Who has influenced your skating the most and how?
Pat Curio is definitely the most influential person in my skating. Before I
started working with her about five years ago, I looked like I didn't know
what I was doing on the ice! No joke! Of course I've grown up a lot since
then - I'm a totally different person! I would never have gotten as far as
I am in skating if she hadn't helped me develop the skating style that I
have now. She's always been there through the hard times and the good times,
and the work she does with me is my inspiration, without a doubt.
Photographs courtesy of the Bruni family. Skate photograph copyright © Dave Amorde. Unless otherwise noted, all content Do not reproduce elsewhere without permission.