The theme of loss also courses through "Six Laments," another West Coast premiere slated for Irvine and created in 1999 for the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. Curran had recently lost 20 pounds, but he was, more important, thinking about his transition from performer to choreographer. A series of six solos and duets, it is danced to an original, elegiac score by Seamus Egan.
"I was in my late 30s then and was in the process of losing my powers as a performer," he says. "I'm still performing, but I can't just call upon that technique. I have a natural, God-given ability, but with time, age and fatigue, I was losing it."
Still, Curran will dance in Irvine, in another work that's new this year, "From the Ether, With Instinct." He calls the piece, which rounds out the Irvine concert, a deconstruction, a homage to '80s dance music, in this case, the Scottish band Young Marble Giants.
"I wanted to make something that looks back to discos and clubs. It's more a flip and irreverent look at people and courting and mating dancing. The band is pre-punk, a naked guitar sound."
There are more new Curran works coming soon in New York. In November, New York City Opera, with Glimmerglass Opera, will present Chabrier's "L'Etoile," which Curran choreographed. Curran likens the production of the 1877 opera to a music hall piece and says it's "very show biz," including a glitzy cancan number. Next year, Playwrights Horizon mounts "My Life With Albertine," based on Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past," which will reunite Curran with "The Dead" writer-director team, Richard Nelson and Jack Hofsiss.
Curran confesses that he would like to do a full-fledged Broadway musical, but he then counters that notion. "I make very athletic, robust, sweaty, physical dance," he says. "People have said I'm a maximalist--my dances collapse under their own weight. Although I'm interested in theater, I'm not a storyteller."
Curran pauses, then adds, "The 'Stomp' guys came up with this one brilliant idea, worked it to death, and it made them millionaires. I wish I could think of my version of that. People tell me, 'You've got to make the St. Patrick's Day "Nutcracker." ' I'm not interested. I want to be known as a good craftsman."
Sean Curran Dance Company, Friday and Saturday, as part of the Eclectic Orange Festival. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. 8 p.m. (949) 854-4646. $30-$35.
Victoria Looseleaf is a regular contributor to Calendar.