Local Girl Makes Good
By Pat Hirschl
Fourth grader Lucina beamed when Miss Linder announced the gym class would learn a dance, “Daisy, Daisy.” Then the teacher assigned Lucina to the back row, poor sports student that she was. But not for long. After the second chorus of “On a Bicycle Built for Two,” Miss Linder moved Lucina to the front row, where she could keep the other girls in step.
Fri, Aug 26, 5pm
Av. Torres Landa at El Saúz, Celaya
Dancing was already Lucina’s dream. She devoured every book on dance in the school library and pestered her parents endlessly for dancing lessons. To her parents, her math talent came first. Dance was a frivolity.
Later, Lucina earned enough as a math professor at Barat College in suburban Chicago to study dance and found two dance companies. It was not easy. One bitter blizzard night in the Windy City, on the triumphant last night of a fabulous dance theater piece, she was left alone to strike the set. As she balanced heavy props over her head and struggled to her apartment through snow over her boot tops, she wavered: Maybe her parents were right—math paid the bills; dance was a road to poverty.
The following week, Lucina flew over frozen Lake Michigan to San Miguel de Allende. There she met the woman who changed her life: Mascha Beyo, the dance director at Bellas Artes.
“She saw me as a promising girl she could mold into a great dancer although I was 38 at the time,” she recalls.
“There followed 18 wonderful years during which I flew through the air on a wire, a buzzard from hell, squawking and throwing serpentinos. My Jewish husband, Charlie, played Joseph in the Christmas pastorela—my favorite role over many others—a bird, tree, Mayan priestess, dragon, witch, burro, and lizard. And when I was pregnant, a hen laying an egg.
“In 1996, both Charlie and Mascha died of cancer within weeks of each other, and my dancing days ended for 15 years. I was left the single parent of eight children, two of Charlie’s and mine and six of a beloved friend and neighbor who died in childbirth.
“When that orphaned baby graduated from dental school five years ago, I danced to a rock band at the traditional lavish party until the wee hours on Saturday night. The next Monday, I reported to Angélica Fuentes Velázquez’s dance studio in Celaya.
“From that day to this, I have braved six-hour-a-day classes for three weeks every summer and rehearsals every Friday night throughout the year.
“The troupe has members as young as seven, but most of the students are in their mid-teens to early twenties. I am the only 74-year-old. Some of the mothers worry that it is dangerous for a white-haired woman to drive home alone after rehearsals, but I tell them no narcos are interested in me or my ’94 Volkswagen Beetle.”
On the evening of Friday, August 26, lifelong dancer Lucina Kathmann will receive the annual homage to the person who most advanced the cause of dancing in the state of Guanajuato last year. She will dance a solo from the troupe’s Mayan Suite. Transportation is being arranged to this historic event in the Teatro Tresguerras in Celaya. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.