"Opening the program was Para.Mar, a Chicago-based contemporary ballet company formed during the pandemic. It performed Dos Lados (Two Sides),
a richly theatrical, erotically charged work by Para.Mar's founder and director, Stephanie Martinez. An especially seductive and acrobatic spirit was displayed by the male dancers."
Hedy Weis, WTTW Chicago
"Director Shana Cooper understands that movement and dance have the ability to help an actor express Shakespeare’s poetic and emotional ideas. So, working together with Stephanie Martinez, the production’s Choreographer and Movement Designer, the two have amplified this production with plenty of delightful, contemporary music and dance."
"Stephanie Martinez, who made a vigorous whole of the scenery, costumes, music and choreography, respectively."
"Cooper also provides a delightful surprise in her soldiers’ dynamic entrances, exits and marching. Cooper enlisted Stephanie Martinez for movement design and choreography. Martinez has the troops levitating above the stage. They kick their feet and pound their chests with rhythmic perfection. It is full-on bad ass!"
"Speaking of: Cooper and movement designer Stephanie Martinez incorporate a whole lot of saucy, whimsically anachronistic dancing into the production, most notably from the half a dozen “soldier lords” who prance in and out of the story with a delightfully insouciant cheekiness."
"Choreographer Stephanie Martinez’s El Maestro pushed PUSH to a joyous ending... True to her subject, Martinez managed to feature every dancer in the cast. Faster and faster, the women in pointe shoes danced as freely as they were barefoot. When our hero is thrilled by a kite, others bring more kites, and the artist is lifted and flown like a kite. “PUSH” couldn’t have come to a happier end." John Schneider, Shepherd Express
"Choreographer Stephanie Martinez’s upbeat world premiere El Maestro closed the evening, coming across the footlights as a joyous, sometimes outright playful, rambunctious, stage-filling celebration of Mexican culture." Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel re: Milwaukee Ballet, March 2022
A constantly morphing backdrop of warm tones, along with a small adobe-colored building and ladder leaning to its roof set the stage for a kinetic homage to Zapotec painter, sculptor and graphic artist Francisco Toledo.
"Stephanie Martinez’s piece, Something to Remember You By, was created for and performed by Tulsa Ballet II, and the company’s relative youth worked well with this predominantly exuberant work, from Giulia Canavese’s boisterous opening solo through the swaggering men’s dance, featuring Jonathan Beloli, Fabian Raschitor, Joshua Binowitz, Edward Truelove and Guillermo Dominguez. There was a playful quality to Martinez’s choreography; the way she seemed to cap off each dance with one extra little expressive fillip, as if the joy inherent in these speedy dances, set to Baroque and classical works by Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann and Tchaikovsky, simply could not be contained.
But what gave the piece its melancholy, its sense of nostalgia, was the duet between Raschitor and Beloli, a pas de deux fraught with tension and tenderness, longing, loss, memory and desire."
" Purple Skin itself is practically flawless... Martinez’ ability to lean into newly found creative energy since the pandemic began has yielded the best work of her career."
Lauren Warnecke, See Chicago Dance
"Accompanied by Stravinsky’s sparsely appointed Dumbarton Oaks, Martinez tries to excavate the guts of this multi-layered score which was, unlike the other Stravinsky, not originally intended for dancing. Martinez pulls, as per usual, from a grab bag of styles including ballet, jazz and even hip-hop, with some goofier moments giving the sense of a band of bumbling boys bro-ing out on a bright summer day. Not to be forgotten, the cast’s two women hold their own with a cute and sassy duet and extraordinary partnering as the group of men tangle them up and over themselves."
Lauren Warnecke, Chicago Tribune on Bliss!
"Furthermore, it is significant that Martinez was the choice for this world premiere, not just for joining a very small list of women who’ve made work for the Joffrey. The list of local choreographers is smaller still: By my count, she’s one of three in the last decade..."
Lauren Warnecke, Chicago Tribune.
"Utterly deserving of the finale, Dos Lados embraces the spectacular mood of the Spanish guitar and brings us the full power of this extraordinary 13-dancer ensemble. Creating literal toe-curling intensity coupled with a coy connection with the audience, this performance was a stunning showcase of sheer talent..."
Christi Geary, Arts Wave Guide.
"Stephanie Martinez’s In Close Proximity matched classical and street aesthetics, contrasting loose, shrugged shoulders with stylized gestures in individualized break-out solos and duets that were both intense and gentle."
Libby Hanssen, Kansas City Star.
"Martinez’ choreographic vocabulary was the highlight of Otra Vez – an intoxicating mélange of ballet, partnered dances like Tango and Pasodoble, even a little formal Fosse-inspired jazz."
Heather Desaulniers, Dance Tabs.
"The women of the company wear long black dresses, a softer, dancier version of Doc Martens, and huge head-pieces of flowers. They move with angular power, all contraction. Feet seem to dig in, legs wide, as if they are birthing the very ground they walk on. The camera dances along, with powerful sweeps that take in the mural and invite us to enter the magical world."
Camille Bacon-Smith, Broadstreet Review on Her Blood a Wild River
Stephanie's video reel is here
"To know Stephanie Martinez is to love her. It doesn’t surprise me that she is creating during this incredibly difficult this year. But she seems fired up like never before, exploring new mediums and platforms for her work and, honestly, making some of the best dance of her career. That kind of spunk is, in part, what made her such an endearing and magnetic performer onstage, and what, hopefully, will propel Para.Mar Dance Theatre forward in the new year." Lauren Warnecke, See Chicago Dance
Chicago based choreographer, Stephanie Martinez, started her dance training at Joseph Holmes Dance Theater and Giordano Dance Center before gaining a scholarship to Hubbard Street Dance in 1990.
With over 30 years professional performing experience, she has danced for Amaranth Dance Company, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Concert Dance, Inc, Same Planet/Different World Dance Theater and Dance Chicago amongst many others. In 2009, her choreographic debut, AviMar for Luna Negra Dance Theater instantly secured her status as a sought-after dancemaker.
Over eleven years of award-winning choreography, Stephanie moves her audiences along a journey guided by the kinetic momentum of her work. With original creations for Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Charlotte Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Eugene Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Kansas City Ballet, and National Choreographers Initiative among others, Martinez’s versatility expands the boundaries of contemporary ballet movement. Martinez has created over 60 ballets on companies and collegiate programs across the country.
In 2015, Stephanie was awarded Joffrey Ballet’s “Winning Works: Choreographers of Color” commission and the Chicago 3Arts Award in recognition for her work as a female artist of color. More recently, she was awarded an NEA grant for her premiere of Bliss! with Joffrey Ballet. Dubbed “a chameleon” of choreography by the Chicago Tribune, Martinez’s psychologically revelatory works challenge the viewer’s notion of what’s possible.
Stephanie is the founder and artistic director of Chicago-based repertory company PARA.MAR Dance Theatre. Founded in July 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. PARA.MAR was created together, with, and for diversity and access to excellence in contemporary dance - created, curated y hecho en Chicago.
In January 2022, Stephanie's PARA.MAR was named one of DanceMagazine's 25 to Watch with its cast of 'fearless dancers... PARA.MAR bolted out of the gate fully ready to steamroll the status quo.' - Nancy Wozny, DanceMagazine
Stephanie's piece, Kiss, premiered in June 2021 for Cincinnati Ballet and had its West Coast premiere at the inaugural Carmel Dance Festival in July.
In September 2021, Stephanie created her latest production, Something to Remember You By for Tulsa Ballet II and created El Maestro for Milwaukee Ballet in Spring, 2022 to critical acclaim. In 2023, Stephanie will be working with Ballet Idaho and with DesMoines Ballet.
For theatre, Stephanie has worked as Movement Director with Chicago Shakes on Shana Cooper's critically acclaimed production of, All's Well that End's Well in 2022.