Monday, March 2, 2015

So You Think You Can Choreograph.

Choreographer Diane Lachtrupp Martinez and dancer Johnny Martinez in Encounters!

In September of 2014, I saw a notice online from Nacre Dance Company that they were producing an event to select a choreographer for the Spring Concert.  The event was called “So You Think You Can Choreograph” and would be a presentation of selected choreographer’s work and the audience would vote and select the winner.

Although I am competitive in athletics, I am not really competitive in the arts.  I never really relished ballroom dance competitions and preferred to dance as an artistic expression as opposed to a competition.  So, when I decided to fill out an application for the contest, my main goal was to have my work presented and seen by a different crowd.  Winning would be great but not my main objective. Up until this point, most of my work had been viewed by either a musical theater, ballroom and dance student audience.  I wanted to be presented next to other concert choreographers and not just viewed as a ballroom dancer.

I sent my application in September 15th and by September 22nd I was informed that I was a finalist for the November 1st event.  That week, I contacted my dancers and set up a rehearsal schedule to ready us for the event. I was excited to be apart of the event.  

My piece “Encounters” is somewhat unique in that I named all the characters/dancers and their are four blackouts during the piece.  I would play Claudette, a controlling, callous  character that no one should turn their  back on unless......  My husband Johnny was playing smoking man - cool,  easy on the eyes and up for anything.  Issa was dancing the role of peacock, equally interested in male or female and a must at any party. Arlette was dancing the role of long haired girl  - pliable, going with the flow kind of girl with a penchant for trouble that she walks into unexpectantly.  Lastly - Juan was dancing the role of  everyman - Bob.  As Juan added his own special “Juaness” to the role, we decided that the character should be renamed.

Along the way, the competition shifted its focus slightly and instead of having only one winner, it was announced that there would be a local and regional winner.  Again winning was not my first priority, but with the new rule, I allowed myself a touch of hope and thought I might have a chance. 

We rehearsed well.  I added a few touches and changes.  We thought we were ready for the big event.  Our dress rehearsal went well with the lighting and the sound. 

Thankfully, we were prepared and solid as the actual performance was a comedy of errors.  Our issues started with the first ray of light and first note of the music.  Juan and I are supposed to be on stage before the music or lighting comes on.  We were told to take our places and as we were entering in the dark, lights and music came on and we were discovered out of position.  Although caught unawares, we played it off and continued as if all was well.  I almost screamed “STOP,” but fortunately held my tongue.  It was a competition and it seemed unfair.  Anyway, we moved forward.

Presently, Johnny walks on as suave Smoking Man and as Claudette lowers her book to gain a better perspective on his backside, I discover his back right pant leg is stuck in his sock; a hot look.  When he sits down next to me on the bench and I light his cigarette, I decided this was the moment to let him know of the faux pas.  I manage to economize my message and merely say “right pants in sock.”  He gives me a Smoking Man nod and corrects the problem in the first blackout.

My piece has 4 mini blackouts over the course of 6 minutes where the characters change positions on stage to thrill and intrigue the audience as the lights come up.  During once such blackout, I tripped loudly over Peacock’s foot as I moved to my next position.  Moments later, the lights came up and I managed an appropriate expression.   One minute later, Peacock went looking for the lighter under the chair, which was placed there in the dark, and cannot find it.  This mishap delays her downstage walk to light her cigarette, which she now has to fake.  It should be noted, that she only walks downstage to light her cigarette with attitude.

We all manage to maintain composure onstage and give a good performance.  As we exit the stage after the applause, we can be heard saying, “What was that?”  “Where was the lighter?” “Good thing we continued Juan.”  Arlette had no comments as she was not involved in one incident, true to Long haired girl’s personality.

After we recovered from our performance, we were thrilled to learn that “Encounters” had been a favorite and that I had been selected as the local guest artist for Nacre.

Epilogue  - The following week, in conversations with other dancers in the show, one dancer revealed that she had been on the wrong side of the stage.  She should have been on stage left but early on the piece had travelled accidentally to stage right. She was nonplussed about her experience and took it well.  Now I have had a shoe come 
undone, costume mishaps, been discovered in the light and tripped in the dark but I believe this one takes the cake.

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez

No comments:

Post a Comment