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: Did choreographers come in? What did you eventually get to perform?
Stacy Martorana: One of the most memorable was working with Teri [Lee] and Oliver Steele. I worked with them twice. Their movement felt so different at the time and exciting and cool. And they had a different way of working that I wasn’t used to, which was they would give us phrases and then, according to an assignment they would give us, we would change it, rearrange it or make duets and trios out of it. But also I danced works by the faculty—pieces by Sean Sullivan, Brenda Daniels and Trish Casey.
Time Out New York: What was your development in the modern department like? Was it pretty quick?
Stacy Martorana: Yeah. I mean I’m still working on it. [Laughs] But I definitely felt more at home.
Time Out New York: What were your plans after you graduated?
Stacy Martorana: I went to the Yard and worked with Charlotte Griffin and Helen Simoneau. Then, my plan was move here. I had a job already, or a project at that time with the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company. He was a guest artist at the school, and I worked with him for about five years on and off. So that was my plan: to audition and find my way.
Time Out New York: Who was on your radar? Did you have a dream company?
Stacy Martorana: At that time, I would probably say Doug Varone. I think I didn’t know a lot. And I didn’t know how to find out. I think one really great thing about going to school in New York is that you can see for yourself. But I think my path worked out well; it was hard at first working with several companies at a time. My first year, I danced with Amy Marshall Dance Company and Neta Pulvermacher and Daniel, doing all different kinds of things all at once. And then the longer I was here, the more I could see other things that I was interested in. I actually took a year off of dance in ’07.
Time Out New York: Why?
Stacy Martorana: I was tired. [Laughs] I pushed myself so hard in college, almost to an obsessive point, going to the studio all the time to work on my technique or to create things. I was always on the go, always working. And I think after my first year of working with a bunch of different companies, I exhausted myself. I wanted to look into yoga because I was taking a lot of yoga my first year. I did my teacher training and started teaching a bunch. And I actually thought I wasn’t going to return to dance. I thought I was done. And then all of the sudden, after several months I got that, Oh I need it. I need to move like that again. And my first class back was a Cunningham class.
Time Out New York: Why did you decide to go there?
Stacy Martorana: My friend Jamie Scott, who was in the company, just said, “Why don’t you come take class?” She was a RUG [Repertory Understudy Group] at the time. I was terrified. It was that feeling of going back into modern again and just being scared that I can’t do what I want to be able to do. So I went in and took Carol Teitelbaum’s class, and it felt good. It was hard, but it felt great to dance again.
Time Out New York: Were you teaching yoga anymore?
Stacy Martorana: Yeah, I was teaching at YogaWorks and at Crunch, where I still teach once a week.
Time Out New York: Why do you still teach at Crunch?
Stacy Martorana: It was my first job actually, teaching yoga five years ago. And my mentor, Jess Gronholm was the national director of yoga for Crunch and I was in his class every single day. And he told me eventually, “If you get trained, I’ll hire you.” After I got trained, Jess called me in and a few of us teachers—I think seven of us and him—collaborated with Christopher Harrison who is the creator of AntiGravity—to create a class called AntiGravity “Wings” yoga. It’s a really fun class. That’s what I teach. It’s with the hammock. And I love Crunch; I get a free gym membership.
Time Out New York: So what happened after you took that first class at Cunningham?
Stacy Martorana: I felt different because I had taken a year off. I took the pressure off myself. It was like returning to dancing just for fun as opposed to doing it because it’s something I’d always done; maybe I needed that break to realize I love it and that I’m doing it because I want to. So I felt so much less pressure; I put less pressure on myself. I wasn’t obsessed with perfection as much. It felt more fun. It felt more like when I first started at NCSA. That feeling of flying. And then once I start doing something, I just kind of put all of myself into it. Once I took that one class, I knew would be back the next day and the next and the next. [Laughs]
Time Out New York: How did you become a RUG?
Stacy Martorana: I started taking class there in the summer of ’09. It was right before Merce passed away that I became a RUG. I was there for class every day and then a couple of months later, Robert [Swinston] called me up. I, of course, looked up to him and had never spoken to him before then, but he called me and asked me if I would like to dance in a project with the current RUGs as a supplement. We were going to be dancing at the 92nd Street Y for their annual show. We worked on Rune that year and later he asked me to learn Tread with the RUGs and perform it at the faculty concert that summer. And he said, “Come in to take Merce’s class tomorrow, and we’ll talk after that.” So it was kind of an audition. That was scary.
Time Out New York: Where did you stand?
Stacy Martorana: Probably in the back I’m sure. Oh my God. But I was so excited; I could barely sleep the night before. This is so nerdy, but I remember I went out and bought earrings so I could feel a little more confident and special. But it was a really thrilling feeling being in his class. They said, “Yeah, do this project.” And then in June, Robert talked to me about becoming a RUG.
Time Out New York: How did you like being a RUG?
Stacy Martorana: It just felt like my first really big thing that was happening. It felt frightening, but exciting. It’s one thing to take the class every day and get used to the technique, but it’s another thing to actually do the work. After taking Merce’s class, I couldn’t imagine anything harder. But it was good. I had a month or so of working with Merce. I was fortunate enough to take classes with him before being a RUG. It was hard after he passed away. Part of it was a selfish sadness in terms of knowing I’ll never dance with the company, and I’ll never work with Merce on anything else or anything new. I remember feeling a little selfish for feeling that. I just love the challenge of the work. It’s almost impossible. It seemed impossible.