Dr. Loretta Martin is a dancing diva. The dictionary defines “diva” as a prima donna or a female lead singer in music. Well, I don’t know if Dr. Loretta Martin can sing, but I do know that she has been leading dances most of her life. And she didn’t stop after retirement. Currently, she teaches line dance classes at various locations on the south and west sides of Chicago. Because of the very active lifestyle of this “seasoned” citizen, I could not resist sharing her story on AS NOT SEEN ON TV.
Her dance career started at age five at Madden Park, one of the Park Districts in Chicago. Tap, ballet, square dancing, and round dancing are just a few styles of dances she’s mastered. Her “diva-ness” kicked in when she was 12 years old. The dance instructor left her in charge of an entire dance class while she was on vacation because Dr. Loretta knew all of the “little girl” and “big girl” dances.
She went on to lead dance classes five days a week as a physical education teacher at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago. Her passion for dancing was felt by her students. Dr. Loretta proudly shared that “my dancers were very good.” That is an understatement. Thanks to her sister who taught modern dance at Abbott Elementary School which is the school from which most of Dr. Loretta’s students graduated, many of them were already good dancers by the time they reached her. However, after training with Dr. Loretta for four years, some had reached professional standards. A few went on to dance with the Alvin Ailey dance troupe and The Dance Theater of Harlem. For the ones that didn’t dance professionally, they kept their passion for dancing alive in college. If the colleges and universities they attended did not have dance programs, they started them.
Dr. Loretta shared her most memorable performance which occurred in the mid-70s. Her students dressed up as the characters of the Wiz and performed Ease On Down The Road in front of a crowd of about 10,000 spectators during the half-time show of an intense basket playoff game between Phillips and Westinghouse. Their performance was so outstanding that audience members thought the dancers were the actual performers in the play, which was in Chicago at that time.
Her diva-ness continued even after she retired in 1999. Although she had no intention of teaching dance again, one of her sorority sisters guilted her into teaching line dances after the instructor at a venue had quit. At the time, she was taking classes, so she knew what to do. And she is still doing her thing because she’s now teaching eight line dance classes per week.
In addition to instructing line dances, Dr. Loretta engages in many other activities:
• She can be seen stepping with her dance partner of 10 years, Mr. Ed Banks, on Can I Step with You? This is shown on CAN TV19 in Chicago.
• As the administrator of the Hall-Martin Foundation, she has been blessing graduating seniors from Wendell Phillips H.S. with scholarships since June 1982.
• Dr. Loretta and her cousin, Brenda Jenkins, authored, He Is Not Left Behind…He Is With Me! In 2006. Look out for a new book in the near future.
• She has gained local star status as a performer in Serendipity, a senior musical in Chicago, in which she has been performing since 2005.
• She is the mother of 4; grandma of 6 plus some; great-grandma of two with several step-children and step-grandchildren.
• Lastly, she is an active member of the Hall of Fame Committee, one of Wendell Phillips’ Alumni Groups.
As you can see, Dr. Martin is one busy lady. To see the dancing diva in action, visit one of her line dancing classes or high noon stepper’s set. Contact Dr. Loretta at 773.520.6072 or email@example.com for a current schedule.