Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gravitational Pull ; Choreographer Explores Movement after a Fall

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gravitational Pull ; Choreographer Explores Movement after a Fall

Article excerpt

West Coast choreographer Jess Curtis is not afraid of words.

"Words and movement mesh for me," he says. "I have always been a very interdisciplinary person and performer."

Though dance was his primary interest in school, he also studied music, sports, writing, and theater. He encouraged dancers to take acting classes, and actors to take dancing classes. "In choreography classes, I was always the one getting into trouble for talking," he says.

Mr. Curtis's newest dance- theater work, "fallen," reflects his multifarious interests. It combines music, dance, theater, and text. Five texts, in fact, powerfully written and measuredly spoken by Curtis.

The work is about its title. The texts for the piece and their dance sequences take the audience from a fable of celestial birds brought down to earth, to "falling in love," and, finally, to an intense section that opens with the sentence: "I saw photos of people falling." Although never overtly stated, the section was clearly inspired by Sept. 11.

Stirring and inventive, "fallen" received considerable acclaim when it was performed recently at the Edinburgh International Festival.

In the performance, Curtis's words add a contemplative tone to a piece that interweaves intimately precise and vigorously physical movement. The texts give the audience a clarity that dance alone sometimes doesn't allow. Curtis does not like a "foggy image haze" and criticizes choreographers who make him feel unsure whether "they really know what they are making their work about."

He says he actually likes the "risk" of "people knowing what you are talking about." That way, the audience can judge whether or not it is "worth talking about."

Each section effectively crosses different media naturally, as if no divisions existed. "I like to write what can be written, sing what can be sung, and dance what can be danced. Different media have very different communication potentials," he says during a recent phone interview. …

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