Mark Morris dancer Stacy Martorana talks about her career
Stacy Martorana talks about joining the Mark Morris Dance Group
Mon Mar 25 2013
Time Out New York: Do you make up a system?
Stacy Martorana: I’ve started. It took me a while [to get to that point]. And now one of the first things I do when I watch a video is to start to find my way of counting it or hearing it. I also learned that I have to plan a little differently. If I’m in the wings and I have to be out on this count, I have to know the music enough to know how many steps I need to get out in time for the movement I have to do. Just hearing the music in that way too and planning ahead.
Time Out New York: That’s so stressful I’m sure.
Stacy Martorana: Well yeah—the first show—because I didn’t think I’d need to plan that. But that second show, I was like, Okay so I’m going to watch the video and know what comes before I come onstage so I know how many steps I should take and on what music to get out on time. But it’s so satisfying when you get it and you get out onstage at the right time with the right music in the right place.
Time Out New York: You watch a lot of videos then.
Stacy Martorana: Yeah. We like to do homework if we’re new to a piece to get an idea of the movements and start learning some of it. For example, I was just put into Socrates; I was maybe one of three people just added in. So if the rest of the company knows it, you want to come in knowing it. It just feels better.
Time Out New York: I love that dance.
Stacy Martorana: Me too. It’s stunning. One of the great things about being an apprentice is that you watch the dances before you perform a lot of them. It teaches so much. Watching gives you that extra appreciation in terms of patterns and the different ways the dancers do things and make choices. I truly love dancing that piece as much as I love watching it.
Time Out New York: You’re in a new dance this season.
Stacy Martorana: Yes, Crosswalk. It’s the first time I’m seeing how he really creates and I love it. To see him read the score and then it’s played on the piano, and he makes up a movement to it—I see how you see the music. I love being in a company where the choreographer makes up the movement as opposed to…
Time Out New York: The dancers?
Stacy Martorana: Right. I like being given movement so I knew right away that I liked that. His way of working just suits me.
Time Out New York: Can you talk about the tone of the new piece?
Stacy Martorana: There are three women and eight men. It starts out with the three women together—not together spatially, but working as a unit. For me, it requires a lot of stamina, which I do love. A lot of jumping, exciting movement to me. It’s interesting. It’s one of the first times I haven’t seen a piece from the outside in this company before going into it.
Time Out New York: Since there wasn’t a video to watch, how did you become familiar with the music?
Stacy Martorana: I’ve learned that I need to hear the music as much as possible. That’s my new technique. So I got a CD and outside rehearsal I would play it all the time to start to know how I can count it or how I can figure out when the entrance is and not rely on seeing other people go. And also knowing the music ahead of time before we get in the studio and work on movement to it has helped me a lot.
Time Out New York: What is your relationship like with Mark?
Stacy Martorana: I think he’s so smart in every way. I love the way he teaches. I think he’s hilarious. I’ve been known to cry when I laugh and I do that a lot here. I respect him so much. He’s interested in so many things, and not just dance. He knows so much about so many different subjects and topics, and I think that’s always something I thought I could use more of—different kinds of knowledge. I like that also he teaches not just in dance, but also in life. I’ve become more confident and aware of myself and not so emotional—in a good way, for me. I remember one of my teachers in college told me, “You’re doing great, you need a tougher skin.” That was it. And she was right. It’s been working here—but it’s not just about getting the job that’s given me more confidence. That’s not enough to give one confidence. And I’m not saying I’m confident all the time. But it’s not just dancing that’s changed, which is cool. It’s me—and in ways that I like.
Time Out New York: I find it interesting to talk to dancers new to a company. I know you don’t have a ton of experience, but how acclimated are you?
Stacy Martorana: I feel so comfortable here. I think I’ve never felt more comfortable with a group of people, working with a certain choreographer. The dancers are wonderful people. And everybody who works here; it’s just a building full of kind, caring people who want the best for all of us. And I just love being part of a group where we go out after rehearsals and have drinks and want to hang out and we’re friends. It’s not something you have to do. I know people who feel like they should go to happy hour with their company, and it’s not like that. You make plans to hang with your friends. And these are friends. They’re warm and accepting and it didn’t take long to become acclimated. When you first join as an apprentice and you get your cubby, everybody gives you random stuff to put in it just to fill it up. It’s just those little touches, like, Wow, they’re excited that I’m here too. I just always feel happy when I talk about this company.
Time Out New York: Have you started reading different kinds of books or seeing different kinds of performances?
Stacy Martorana: I have been trying. Just seeing more dance, to be honest. I hate to admit that about myself, but I just didn’t see much. It’s a slow process for me, but I’m working on it. Because at the end of the day my tendency is to either hang out with friends or watch some TV or relax, and I’m finding that if I can just make a plan to go see something, then I saw something and that’s exciting. I’m inspired by Mark and the other dancers—they see a lot. And it makes you want to be involved in that way and have other things to talk about. And just even reading the paper. And not just being so involved in my own little world. Which is maybe a part of what the lesson is.
Time Out New York: How does that affect your dancing?
Stacy Martorana: I think the more one is a person. as a whole, the better the dancing can be. Going back to college, I was a workaholic, and I didn’t have a life. I didn’t give myself the pleasure of having a life. I just wanted to get better and better and better. And I didn’t have many close friends. I didn’t socialize much. Probably being in this group is the most social I’ve ever been in my life. But when you have other experiences, you’re a person. You’re not just a dancer. I think that was the hardest thing for me to distinguish. I work hard now, but I’m not a workaholic anymore. [Laughs] I can’t be.
Mark Morris Dance Group performs at the Mark Morris Dance Center Apr 3–14.