Diane Lachtrupp Martinez is a professional dancer with a specialty in Argentine Tango. The former owner of Stepping Out Dance Studio, one of the largest in NYC, she now lives in Saratoga Springs with her husband Johnny Martinez and her two sons. A full time dancer and teacher, she balances her chaotic life of teaching, choreographing and performing while caring for her family and navigating her complicated gluten, dairy and soy free diet.
In November, my husband mentions that the modern dance company that he dances with, Nacre in Saratoga Springs, is looking for a few extra performers to dance with them in the March concert. Not necessarily professional modern dancers, but people who move well and dance. My younger son is asked to participate and my seventeen year old will be doing tech for the show so I decide that a family project would be nice and plan on auditioning.
The e-mail that I receive from Nacre describes the audition as “ for community members who move well.” Thinking that this casual description requires little preparation, I am still cooking dinner for my family at 6:40 and giving last minute instructions to my husband about the cornbread and walk out of the house at 6:45 for a 7pm audition that is a six minute walk away. I arrive at 6:51, to a roomful of company members and about a dozen auditionees. By 7:05, I am seated cross legged on the floor in a full Graham contraction realizing that I will be taking a modern class. What? Twenty minutes ago I was slinging hash in my kitchen and in another twenty minutes, I’l be doing triplets across the marley floor. Not what I anticipated but I am loving it.
The class continues on with center work, triplets, etc across the floor and a piece of choreography that includes improvisation. Modern dancer or not, I am relaxed with improvisation and enjoy it. I struggle a little bit with the order of the center part as some of it is exercises that I am not familiar with. I feel that I copy the movement well, but need to improve on the transitions. I enjoy the choreography and am comfortable with the style which I believe is influenced by Limon, Humphrey and Graham. I will ask to be clear.
My hips are sore but I leave the audition at 8:30 on a high and hope that they decide to use me. Outside the dance studio building, another dancer and I joke about the ad for “community dancers that move well” and gently tease the Nacre director Beth Fecteau, as she passes by, about the understatement of her ad. She laughs and says she was happy with the level of dancers that showed up
Several weeks later, I hear from Nacre that I will be used in the piece. The dancing is more challenging than I anticipated, but I would rather be challenged than bored and am up for the experience. I took some modern classes 25 years ago, the style of jazz that I have studied leans toward modern and I have used modern dance in my own choreography but have never been in a modern dance concert. And so..... I commence my modern dance career at 50...ish.