Wednesday, September 23, 2015
BECOMING ISADORA : HOW IT CAME TO BE.
My journey to becoming Isadora actually began over a year before the April 2015 Duncan immersion weekend described in the first installment of my “Becoming Isadora” blog. I had started to work with Nacre in December of 2013 when my husband ( Nacre dancer) said they needed some additional dancers for a piece and let me know about the audition. I am not a modern dancer, but it intrigued me, so I audition and was accepted. As additional dancers, we were not company members, but we given the name “community dancers.” Since I am a professional dancer in the ballroom world, the title “community dancer” was a tough pill to swallow but the title tickled my younger son and he delighted in repeating the title - “community dancer” many times over.
After the “community dancer” gig ended in March of 2014, I was invited to continue to take classes with Nacre. I accepted the invitation gladly and so continued my foray into the world of modern dance. Although I was professional ballroom dancer with a jazz background, I was not a modern or ballet dancer which was the backbone of Nacre’s repertoire. I had always wanted more ballet training and enjoyed the movement of modern.
Process is not my speciality. However, I think this was the best example in my life of showing up, working hard, and not worrying about what anyone else thought and working through challenges. Twice a week on Tuesday and Friday mornings, I would throw my butt around, in the Nacre classes, with abandon and commitment in an effort to master the material. I was doing it as a form of exercise, additional training for my tango dancing and to increase my knowledge for choreography. I asked questions, stumbled across the floor, picked myself back up and continued working hard. I was not giving up. When we would move across the floor in groups of two, I would ask my partner to be in front of me so I could try it. The other dancers were patient and slightly amused by my efforts. On occasion I was discouraged by my inability to grasp a combination above my pay grade but most of the time I was happy if I improved with each repetition.
In August of 2014, Nacre put out a notice for their annual choreographer search for their spring season. In the past, the director Beth, had viewed submissions on her own and made the decision. This year they were letting the public choose at an event titled “So You Think You Can Choreograph.” I entered, was selected as a finalist, and in the end was one of the two choreographers chosen to work with the company. More info on that in my blog -http://dianelachtruppmartineznocompromises.blogspot.com/2015_03_01_archive.html
I believe this event, contributed to elevating my position above “community dancer” with Nacre.
After the contest on November 1st, and before I really started working on the piece I was selected to choreograph, I continued my classes with the company and working hard in class. If class started at 10am, around 11:15 at the finish of class, I would pack up my things and head out the door as the other company members stayed to rehearse. One day last December, as I was moving off the floor to go, Beth said, “Diane could you stand over there?” I looked behind me to see if there was someone behind me, but there was not. I was being asked to participate in a piece.
The next rehearsal, Beth continued to use me in the piece “Falling to Pieces” and so I came to dance with the company. She never really asked me, it just developed into that. I showed dedication and commitment. It paid off. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it was a little bit like musical theater meets modern dance. I followed the choreography as best as I could, but would occasionally add something a little theatrical which I believe Beth sometimes liked and sometimes it was just wrong.
However, my theatrical leanings are what might have inspired her to pose the question regarding - “Revolutionary.” One day after rehearsal, she asked if I still acted and the answer was yes. I was trained as an actress, and although dance was my focus now and livelihood, I had continued to act in shows now and then. Mostly musical theater - not high drama.
So, here I was a non- modern dancer playing a modern dance icon, dancing in it and having to memorize a daunting amount of lines over a course of 8 pages of just me speaking. I wanted to get Isadora right. I started to read her book “My Life” and saw many instances where the play “Revolutionary” had come from this book. I continued to study Duncan with Beth and we continued to work on the pieces at rehearsals. We didn’t have any specific performance dates yet, but had our sights set on the fall.
So since December of 2013, I had gone from “community dancer” to winner of a choreography contest and now Isadora. I was thrilled but could not rest for long. There was much work to be done for this new modern dancer playing a modern dance icon who had not exercised her dramatic chops in awhile. I was nervous but excited.
More on Becoming Isadora this week: Showtime Sunday September 27th - 7pm
at the Skidmore Dance Theater
Diane Lachtrupp Martinez