Monday, March 28, 2011


It’s rare, but it happens on occasion, when you can sincerely say, “Honey, you were right.”  These words were spoken in March of 20011 but our story commences in October 2010.
My husband and I are the co-directors of Tango Fusion Dance Company in Saratoga Springs, New York; a company that was once stationed in New York City, invited to perform in Argentina and now that we live in Saratoga and are parents, it’s recent incarnation has performed around the Northeast.  Tango is the backbone of the company, but we also dance and choreograph a fair amount of salsa and swing as well as incorporating ballet and jazz.  The majority of the time, the 4 to 5 couples dance with the same person, but we also enjoy shaking it up and having different company members dance with each other.
Such was the case last Fall(2010) when we were preparing a new Salsa number for our Fall show at the Charles Wood Theatre in Glens Falls and my husband and company member Deb Otto- Jones were slated to partner in the new four person piece: Shaky –Shaky.  Deb is a well trained ballet dancer; my husband is also strongly trained in ballet so I expected the piece to contain some fun lifts.  Johnny is happy to lift and Deb is delighted to be airborne.  I was not prepared.
Whenever Johnny works a piece with a company member, I generally come in after the majority of the choreography is finished to watch and perhaps offer some suggestions.  The piece did indeed offer up some exciting lifts including the one that starts with the woman jumping and being simultaneously lifted on the man’s shoulders with her legs apart; not in back of his head but right in front.  The crotch in the face moment gives one pause.  After a quick re-gripping of the hands and wrists, the lift continues with the woman flipping down to the floor and the fun didn’t stop there.  Deb then proceeded to do progressive splits forward with my husband’s help.  I believe I stayed fairly cool and said something like, “that’s   some prep.” And left it at that.
A week later, they were rehearsing the lift in front of Deb’s husband and myself and I said to Richard, “Have you seen the crotch lift yet?”
To which he naively and nonchalantly responded, “No.”
“Just wait.” I said.
He turned to me after the crotch lift with raised eyebrows and said, “I see.”
I said to Richard, “It gives one pause doesn’t it?” He agreed and we immaturely decided that we needed to work a crotch lift equivalent into any time that we danced together in our show.
Well, a crotch lift equivalent never came to pass and after gently teasing Johnny and Deb about the lift, they both said that it took much concentration to get the correct hand grip in that position.  I believe that my husband’s exact words were,”Honey – the position is not titillating.  At the time I am concentrating on keeping Deb safe as she flips to the floor.”  Deb concurred.
Nonetheless, even though both couples have been in the dance business a long time, danced with others and many Tango Fusion Dance Company steps and positions would not fly in the non-dance world, that  face to crotch position caught my eye until…
Last Saturday, I was rehearsing some of the cast of RENT (I am choreographing the show to be performed at the EGG in April) for the number “Contact.”  Overall, the show does not hold back on sexual content and the musical number “Contact” takes the cake.  One of the main characters, Angel, has died and the piece depicts his release from this world through sexual movement.  So-----I had the cast rolling around on the floor attached to each other, thrusting each other against the wall, mounting each other in various facings and pulling hair. 
We were rehearsing at our studio in our home and I invited my husband upstairs to help us with some lifts.  To give him an idea of what we were doing, we did a run –through and since one cast member was missing, I stepped in to fill her shoes.  Naturally, I’m thinking that this will be my husband‘s comeuppance  and he now can witness me thrusting, straddling, and performing intimate acts not meant for public consumption. 
However, that’s not what happened.  Instead I had an epiphany when I realized how much I had to concentrate counting the music to make my next move on time and make sure that it looked good and keeping my partner safe.  The athleticism it required to maintain our positions, hold our partners and pick up our partners overpowered any sexual experience.  Actually, we ended up laughing a great deal of the time and getting a terrific work-out.
So – I guess the crotch lift is not just a crotch lift.  Although my husband waited a full 5 months for my realization to come to pass, he took my concession well and did not hold it over my head.  Now, how about that butt lift?

(Check out the video and pay special attention at 2:50 to witness the crotch lift)

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez

Thursday, March 17, 2011


New Yorker dressed for warm weather in March
      I am currently in New York City for a quick 4 and ½ hour turn around.  Arriving at 10:15, I could not help notice the stark contrast between my apparel and the resident  New Yorkers.  New Yorkers  were wearing light jackets, no jackets, Capri pants, no hats and high heels with no stockings revealing bare skin between the bottom of their pants and the tops of their shoes.  Crossing Madison Park (between Madison and 5th and 26th and 23rd) I saw grass and the first crocuses pushing their way up.  And now for the final slap in the face – a line that lead to Mr. Softie.  Not possible.

      Upon driving out of my snow and ice filled driveway in Saratoga Springs that morning (with not an inch to spare between snow piles) in a down pour at 6am, I chose to don hiking boots, a long faux –fur lined vintage army storm coat, gloves and a winter knit hat. My upper half of my body featured five layers: my bra, my unnecessary camisole, my thankfully light blouse, wool blazer and ridiculous winter coat.  I was prepared and  I was way off.
      Normally, I do not pay much attention to weather forecasts.  If tornados, hurricanes or earthquakes are promised my ears prick up, but other than that I take the weather as it comes.  What can I do.  If it’s raining or snowing then I deal with it at the time.
      However, I think now I will consider the weather when travelling even if it is a mere three hours away.  I don’t need to be subjected to Capri pants, spring jackets and the annoyance of sweaty boot feet and carrying around my weighty jacket with no warning.  I think that if I had witnessed alfresco dining and daffodils, that would have put me over the edge.

      Next time, a  preemptive phone call to my mother –in- law in Brooklyn, would have done the trick.

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez as
Gluten Gal and Tango Mom

Friday, March 4, 2011


       The winter of 2009 saw our front parlour filled with my younger son’s snowflake store.  Make no mistake, it dominated the entire room; snowflakes displayed across the entire red velvet couch and today’s special coddled in the red velvet chair.  Signs informed the customers of the prices and deals; 15 cents each or two for 25 cents.  My son eyed every guest to our home as a potential customer and contributor to his stash of cash.  The store opened in January and lasted through May after much urging to close up shop earlier.
       I held my breath in the winter of 2010 to see if the store would re-open.  It did not.  So you can see how I was blind- sided last Wednesday when my younger son announced  in the car that tomorrow was the grand re-opening of his snowflake store.  What?  I thought I was in the clear. I did not see that coming.
       First, we negotiated the real estate.  I knew in my mind, that the front parlour was not going to be inhabited by the snow flake store again; especially when the store had reached its height of inventory in 2009 and featured 379 unique snowflakes.  He assumed the parlour was still available.  It was not and I suggested the play room.  He countered with the reading room landing (located between the first floor kitchen and 2nd floor bedrooms) and I said, “Deal.”    It is an intimate room and would hopefully prevent spreadage.  Although, every time I climb the stairs(about 20 times a day) I am reminded that our dance students also pass this way en route to their lessons and wonder at the wisdom of my counter offer.
       Thursday morning arrived and the little salesman arrived home after spending the night at his grandma’s.  As I welcomed him at the door, he gives me a cursory hug and rushed by me saying, “There is no time to spare.  My store opens in an hour.” 
       I thought he had plenty of inventory, but he informed me that he has next to none and so I set him up in the living room with paper and scissors to get to work.  I had already decided to embrace his idea and dedicated the next two hours to his grand opening.  Seeing his dearth of product, I rushed into the cellar to find the snowflakes that I had saved two winters ago.  Success, I find them and bring them up.  He seemed pleased with my find and felt less stress on producing mass amounts of snowflakes.
        While my son created, I hung chili pepper lights around the entrance to his store and found a bulletin board to hang and display his items for sale.   After 45 minutes of arduous work, he rushed up to his new store to set up shop.  He categorized his snowflakes as small, medium and large and amazing.  I helped him price them accordingly.  His prizes were at first a little high, and I warned him that his prices need to fit the pockets of his shoppers.
And who are his shoppers?  Well, they are his grandmothers, brother (reluctant), playmates, dance students and any guest who enters our home.
How do the playmates know to bring money?  They don’t.  I am both the land lord and the bank supplying nickels, dimes and quarters to his friends.  The money circulates back to us; I give the playmates a budget of a dollar, they spend it in my son’s store, he generally banks it.  A fun savings plan.
Do his parents shop in the store?  Yes they do, but not always appearing as his parents.  When there were slow days in his shop in 2009 and he longed for business, I would dress up as different characters and ring the front door bell to visit his shop.  He answered the door as a composed proprietor welcoming a new customer but with a knowing twinkle in the eye that acknowledged the secret that we shared as to my true identity.  I am no stranger to our dress-up box and Nanny McPhee has made several guest appearances at the store.  I can only wonder what the neighbors thought as I walked out my back door in full late 19th century attire, walked the 125 feet along the sidewalk and then re-entered my home by way of the front door and rang my own bell.  Whatever.
       My husband ( no slouch in the dress-up department), grabbed a  sombrero-esque hat from the dress-up box area and pulled a south western looking blanket off the couch, slung it over his shoulder and made his entrance to the snowflake store doing the Mexican Hat Dance.  My son was delighted but managed to keep a straight face nonetheless.  It’s no wonder that my son wants to re-open the store – his parents apparently want to dress-up all the time.  We are enablers.

(young proprieter displays his wares)

BACK TO THE OPENING -10:30am arrives and the store is open; the open sign is displayed, merchandise is arranged, the change box is ready and the chili peppers lights are plugged in.  My younger son had a play date with a neighbor and I had prearranged for the father and daughter to come to the opening before the play date.  My mother was coming back to the house for the opening and I would be there.  Customers were expected.
       The opening went off without a hitch.  Customers purchased at least 25 snowflakes as well as some art work and I provided a toast to his success.  (He nixed the graham cracker hors d’oeuvres that I had suggested.)  All in all a fun two hours of play time.
How is the snowflake store faring?  Since the grand re-opening the store has had sporadic hours and lowered inventory.  BUT- my son did add a new a game feature of throwing a ball into a purple and green top hat that sits on top of the dress-up box in his store.  The customer receives three tries and you win a piece of art work if it goes in.  I love creative marketing.

EPILOGUE: This morning my son put his entrepreneurial skills to work and held a fund raiser in the living room.  Children in his school, were asked to bring loose change from home to support a charity called “Pennies for Patients.”   He did send in loose change as well, but isn’t it more fun to have a fund raiser in the living room that features games to raise the loose change.  My entry fee was four quarters and then I was invited to play a variety of games such as rubber horse shoes, foosball and toss the ball in the purple and green hat. He proudly headed off to school carrying the money from his fund raiser for the charity. Perhaps my son is the future organizer of a Saratoga High Dance Marathon that will raise over $200,000.00 like those great kids at South Glens Falls High School.

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez
P.S.  For reasons unknown to me, I am back in the dog house.  If you don't know what I am talking about, go back about three blogs.