On Stage


Telling the story

Dancer finds new medium in choreography

By Michele DeVinney
Tracy Tritz wanted to be a dancer before she even knew what it might mean to become one. Born in a small town near Stevens Point, Wis., Tritz asked her mother for dance lessons when she was only 2 years old. With no studios available near her at that time, it was years before her determination was rewarded with her first ballet class — and then she was hooked.

“I took classes one or two days a week, but I had my own little dance studio in our basement, and I would spend 90 percent of my time at home down there watching videos and dancing. I would go to school and just try to get through the day so I could go home and dance.”

That singular mindset meant that when it came time for Tritz to choose a career, no outside influences could deter her.

“I was going to be nothing else, and I told that to my guidance counselor who told me that dance was ‘not a career.’ But I turned down a full-ride scholarship so I could dance.”

That choice was less risky than it might have seemed since Tritz had begun dancing professionally at 16. But parents being parents, hers worried that forces outside of their daughter’s control — specifically, injury — might make it difficult for her to make it in the tough world of dance.

“They made a deal with me that if I went to college for a year, they would cover that and help me out if I had an injury or something like that. I was already dancing professionally by that time and didn’t want to jeopardize that, but it was too good a deal to pass up, so I did go to school for that year.”

The experience helped to expose her to choreographers who would each influence her significantly, helping her to find her “choreographic self.” After that year, however, she was ready to get back into dance full-time, and she soon found herself in California with the LA DanceForce. While on the West Coast, Tritz studied with Luigi, inventor of jazz dance technique, along with Claude Thompson, himself a student of Alvin Ailey. These experiences led her to the Horton Technique, which incorporates diverse dance styles with a whole-body approach to flexibility and movement.

Los Angeles also provided a unique opportunity to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. But her Midwestern roots took her to the Chicago area and eventually Fort Wayne, where she has now danced, taught and choreographed for five years. Already familiar with Fort Wayne Ballet thanks to students who came to Fort Wayne for the Summer Intensive program, Tritz began making connections with dancers in the area and within a few months was teaching at the Ballet and dancing for the Mikautadze Dance Theatre. Although reserved by nature, she loves the opportunity to connect to an audience through performing, and she also revels in the time she spends with students, helping them to develop their own unique style. But she says it is choreography where she finds her deepest satisfaction.

“Choreography is my chance to tell my story. My choreography is my life, told in a way that I really can’t express to people through words but I’m okay with putting all of that in dance and putting on a stage and sharing it.”

Posted: Wed, 01/23/2013 - 2:01 pm
Last updated: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 12:40 pm