Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meet a Dancer: Amy Mastrangelo

Amy Mastrangelo joined Luminarium at the end of its Spring Tour in June of 2011. She is currently one of nine Company Members in LDC, and will continue to work with the company in 2012.
Hello fellow Luminaries! My name is Amy and I am pleased as punch to call myself a Company Member with Luminarium…and now a most distinguished blog contributor. (Merli and Kim asked me to contribute…I added the distinguished part.)

I joined the ranks of Luminarium in June 2011, to fill in for the Dance for World Community Festival. I had the exciting opportunity to learn all of you have hands, too? in a two-week crash course in LDC 101. While the task of learning 20 minutes of brand-spanking new choreography (never mind a solo choreographed by the original dancer FOR her original self) was certainly daunting, I felt secure and confident in the welcoming arms of Luminarium.

The performance came and went on a cold and rainy June day. As I wrote in my own journal shortly thereafter: “I am forever indebted to the universe/whatever higher being allowed me to dance with Luminarium. I truly cannot believe this has happened and as much as I wish it could be a long-term thing, I will accept the gift I have been given for what it is. I am so lucky and I do know that.”

However, the dance gods had more plans for me. Merli and Kim asked me to stick around as a guest performer and understudy for the remainder of the season. Obviously, I over-eagerly accepted and bounded to rehearsals as would a puppy. Push push, shove shove, Merli had me understudy her part as a timid dog walker in Bus Stop, as she finished putting final choreographic touches on the piece. As the Portsmouth Fringe Festival loomed closer and closer, Merli asked me to perform the role in the festival.

I was floored, I was elated, and I was scared out of my mind. The good kind of scared, though. The kind that makes you want to dance perfectly and meaningfully and the way the artistic director would if she were performing the part. We’ve all been there.

The weekend in Portsmouth was a whirlwind of fun, dance, and friendship. Cheesy as it sounds, I’m sure fellow company members would agree. We bonded during street performances (posing on a fountain) and in the men’s bathroom of a temple (our makeshift dressing room.) The performances went off without hitches. For me, the weekend wasn’t just about actually dancing (though that was pretty relevant,) it was about being a part of something wonderful with these people who shared my love of dance.

Amy (Yoga Girl) flirts with Matt Johnson (Hippy Guy) on the bench in the background after finishing their duet.

As the end of the 2011 season drew closer, Merli and Kim offered me to not only perform Bus Stop again but to help debut a new piece It was 4am…  Bus Stop was especially fun for me, as it gave me the opportunity to really explore and create a character. The dog walker evolved into a girl emerging from yoga class, who walks intently to the bus stop with her water bottle in hand and a matchy-matchy red-on-red yoga outfit. She is brisk, and arguably neurotic, careful to not get too close to fellow bus riders. After she notices a hunky hippie guy at the other end of the bus stop, she begins to shed her neuroses, loosen up, and eventually finds harmony with the other pedestrians. Connecting and moving freely causes her red shirt to shift, showing a bright blue detail on her yoga pants - not so matchy-matchy after all. Surprise!

Amy leads the group towards the end of It was 4am...

It was 4am… was a blast from the get-go. Giving us choreographic phrases and otherwise free-reign on our character choices, Kim and Merli enabled my fellow dancers and I to find our voices in movement. Literally. I, personally, am no stranger to making sound effects when dancing, and when the show was a short week away and a musical score had not been decided upon, the task of sound burst forth from the larynxes of we performers. From an honest “ouch,” following a thigh slap, to a sigh, to a rooster’s crow, to a crotchety “meh!” It was 4am… filled the space of Green Street Studios with captivating movement and exciting sound. My proudest moment was not when Merli asked me to encore my performance of the aria from “The Little Mermaid,” no. It was being able to contain my own laughter as my audio-inclined cast mates produced increasingly peculiar and silly sound.

Following the end of the 2011 season, Kim and Merli asked me to join LDC as a full-fledged company member for the 2012 season.

SPOILER ALERT: I accepted.

I am thrilled to continue to dance with Luminarium. I cannot wait to be a part of Kim and Merli’s continued artistic exploration and contribute to the process of making their visions in dance reality. And if they so insist that I perform an operetta at the beginning of every performance, so be it.