Hailing from New York’s boogie down Bronx, globetrotting dancer-choreographer Megan Curet returns to her hometown, conveying her truth via modern dance with the Curet Performance Project. Collaborating with Israeli jazz musician Idan Morim and bluelight, a music project based out of Akron, OH, the first generation Puerto Rican dance-maker has made quite a name for herself in the past two years, reaching international heights.
Entering its fourth season, Curet has toured with her company throughout the United Kingdom, presenting her work both in London venues and the illustrious Edinburgh Fringe festival. In 2015, Curet and her troupe of dancers also offered workshops under UNESCO at Armenia’s Center of International Dance in Vanadzor, and gifted charity performances throughout Berlin art galleries and London’s Rag Factory. The results have all been advantageous for the twenty-something Hispanic vegan movement guru.
Over the last five years, Curet, who has typically focused her work on Latina female identity and media perception of people in conflict through modern dance vocabulary, has moved on to pivotal territory with he upcoming season entitled What Works.
At the start of 2016, the company will not only tie in philanthropy, but also help raise awareness and reserves for Take Back The Night, the emblematic anti-rape non-profit organization steadfast to eradicating sexual harassment and domestic violence, in a one night only affair on February 4th at 8pm, at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn. Consisting of five different dance companies and fellow artists—French choreographer Pia Vinson and NYC-based dance choreographers Maher Benham, Stanley Love and performance artist Aaron Moses Robin—the benefit, dubbed Rally For Red, will look to shed light on a topic affecting both men and women throughout the nation and around the world.
Sitting down to a small chai tea and breakfast wrap within the cozy Café Jax on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Ms. Curet conversed with me about the company– to discuss political affairs through dance.
Is there a line between triggers? Is it difficult to find a happy medium?
By choosing to collaborate with Take Back The Night on a dance concert benefit, I knew two things had to be clear: My purpose for this production and my overall vision. A philanthropic project is a huge undertaking and essentially you are asking people to give money to something you believe in. In that process, you are also attempting to show them why this topic should be important for them as well. It is so hard to do that without stepping on someone’s toes along the way. So the entire time you are planning, organizing, arranging, creating and hoping you don’t offend anyone but that you genuinely affect everyone through your work. A happy medium really doesn’t arrive until the end of the entire project.
Why do you feel that dance can make a change?
I draw a lot of inspiration from great dance masters such as Martha Graham and Ohad Naharin. Pioneers in different ways, one inspired the great American Modern Dance era, broke boundaries for women on stage and created a new gaze and how we viewed the female [protagonist] of the ballet. Another inspired a new movement language that inspired the way a dancer trains, and the way the audience views the classical dance body and all of it’s lines. The one thing they both have in common is the affect on the audience’s psyche, both consciously and unconsciously. The way people saw classical roles began to shift, one can say this came out of the work of great minds, but I would argue that this came out of the power of the dancing body. This moving vehicle with all of its abilities, may entrance, engage and evoke great thoughts. These thoughts might not be groundbreaking at first, but I truly believe in the power of just planting the seed. And this is simply how the beginning of effective dancing works.
When discussing the subject of sexual violence, how can dance help affect the way we do this?
I chose Take Back The Night, as an organization to raise awareness for, not because it is the only organization I feel is important. I have many causes I would like to work with, however, I find the topic of sexual violence is still one of the most problematic issues plaguing people of all genders globally. Which means less than 50 percent of these victims will report these crimes. Dance is one of the rawest art forms; all you have is one instrument to tell your entire story. In Rally For Red, I chose five companies and one musician to bring together one evening length story. Each choreographer, all distinctly different, offerd a key piece to the entire work. Curet Performance Project along with live original music by Idan Morim, Maher Benham’s Coyote Dancers, Pia Vinson’s Contempia, Stanley Love’s Stanley Love Performance Group and choreographer-performer Aaron Moses Robin are each offering works on trauma, resistance, grief, oppression, vanquish, hope and especially, joy. It is a pretty strong lineup of dance works, offering different mediums through dance performance.
My aim is focused on the evening’s work of production. In order to change or affect the viewer, I specifically sought out works that highlighted various stages of a grieving process. This focus is where I dedicate the evening’s work to the victims of sexual violence. By pressing on personal topics I feel you invite the audience to see your work as if it could relate to them, or to someone they love. We all, as humans, understand pain, suffering, joy, hope, sadness. Most of us are not immune to any of these topics, so it is my job to tap into those emotions. There is where the change lies; there is where I believe it can occur, at the root of compassion.
Check out the Curet Performance Project at the Rally For Red benefit on Thursday, February 4, 2016, at Triskelion Arts, 106 Calyer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222. Tickets: $25. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.