Louisville Magazine

MAR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.19 69 afraid, because there are little girls and boys that need to look up to something and feel that they're supported," says the ballet's marketing director, Cherie Perez. "What makes me sad is, Robert and the dancers who have dealt with this their whole life, they're reaction is to laugh it off. And I'm not OK with that. I don't want them to have to laugh it off." "I've been dealing with this more than 30 years. Not even necessarily to do with my sexual orientation, just my career path. And you do just get very good at laughing it off and pushing it deeper down," Curran says. "It just pushes down further and further into you until you start hating yourself. I'm just not doing that anymore." He adds: "I am happy to say that the support is completely overwhelming the hatred. But it still bites that it's out there, and it makes us even more committed to creating this safe space." Over lunch one day at Proof on Main, Curran had said, "I feel like I could have shied away from bringing (Human Abstract) here; I could have tried to control that, and tell (Jervies) what he could and couldn't do. But, number one, that does not work with Lucas. And number two, I think we do need to be putting things out there as an organization…that challenge anything that's been in existence or been in our psyches for too long." He continued: "I think that there are a lot of organizations the size of Louisville Ballet and bigger that do ignore those things. And I think people are looking to organizations of this size to set their guideposts. And if we constantly give them Disney, those conversations aren't really gonna happen." Curran was born into a Catholic family in Canberra, the capital of Australia, in 1976. He doesn't remember if he asked to study ballet, or if his parents simply enrolled him in a class when he was about four years old. His grandmother, a lover of ballroom dance, wanted him to learn. "I'm pretty sure she was convinced that that was the only way I was going to meet a girl," Curran says. "As it turned out, I met lots of girls, but…." His father, Brian, says, "As a very young boy, he would be jumping here and pirouetting there." Brian filled the house with Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, classical pieces. Curran began his studies under Betsy Sawers, a respected teacher and "pioneer of dance science in Australia," Curran says. A shy kid, Curran shrank to the back of the class. en, when he was about six, his father decided to drop his gig at the Bureau of Public Statistics and get some fresh air in his lungs. e family moved to a cattle farm in rural New South Wales. at's where Curran and his three younger brothers grew up. He and his next youngest brother slept in a trailer under a kind of carport in the back, his youngest two brothers and his parents taking up the farmhouse's two bedrooms. It was a get-out-of-the- house-and-don't-come- back-until-dinnertime kind of childhood: climbing mountains, plunging through creeks, encountering critters, riding BMX bikes, climbing hay bales. Curran didn't take to farm life, though; shifting irrigation pipes and baling hay were not exactly his thing. Neither were sports, Curran's dad confirms. His thing was ballet. Unfortunately, he wasn't cutting it. Curran was the only boy in his ballet class at the small local dance school. His parents — pragmatic, bootstraps Boomers through and through — were goal-oriented, so Curran started working through the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus out of Britain. But his grades weren't good enough, so his mother, Suzanne, decided to drive him the two hours, one way, to a dance school in Newcastle. She made the trek twice a week, her carsick son plunking away at his homework. Curran had three classes every week, so he'd stay overnight to make the last one, keeping his mother from schlepping back and forth yet again. Usually, they'd arrange for him to stay with another student. "Sometimes the arrangements didn't work out, and I would end up just standing out in front of the school, hoping that some mother would pick me up and take me home," Curran says. "And it usually worked out! I don't ever remember a time where I was left out on the street. It was pretty relaxed in the '80s." Suzanne always encouraged creativity. Her husband would prod the kids toward music, but she fielded the stresses and excitements, the crayons and paints and messy craft projects. She's the one who set makeup out on the kitchen table for 8- or 9-year-old Curran to play with. Base, pencil, eye shadow, lipstick, blush. He'd need to know how to do it for ballet — that was the official excuse. But, really, he was just having fun. Colorful, unskilled fun. "I have this vague recollection of this terrible makeup brush that was basically like a sponge that had just been wrapped over a stick, and green eye shadow. Never used green eye shadow since," Curran says. Curran approached high school as a young man interested in ballet in the '80s. Bullying was inevitable. He was small for his age, a late bloomer. He caught three different buses to get to school each day, and at one particular bus stop, other kids would sometimes dump out the contents of his ballet bag — his tights, uniforms, his ballet belt, which is essentially the underwear dancers wear under tights — onto the street. e bus would leave before he had the chance to gather up all his things, and he'd have to trek to the nearest phone to see if one of his parents could come collect him. He hadn't contemplated his sexual orientation, but that didn't matter to other kids, and homophobic language invaded his ears. Relief would come with a change in geography. One day, Curran was walking home from a neighbor's house with his mother. "Do you really want to be a dancer?" she asked him. "Is that what you want to do for a job?" "Yes," he said. "Well, would you want to move to Sydney and live with Nana and Pa?" she said. "ere's a school in Sydney where you can do your academics and your ballet training." Curran thought: "is is going to be so much fun." He spent the next couple years living with his grandparents and attending a performing-arts high school, eventually moving in with his uncle's family. He qualified to join the Australian Ballet School in his mid-teens, but his parents insisted he finish high school. After graduating at 17, he moved to Melbourne and joined the dance school. It was the first time he was in an all-male class. e pressure mounted, with dance taking up most hours of the day. But Curran was a little older and more experienced than the others, and he managed to complete the three-year course in two years. He says he was one of about six young men from the "THIS IS NOT JUST LOUISVILLE, WHERE WE COULD USE CANNED MUSIC. THIS IS LOUISVILLE. THE ARTS ECOSYSTEM IS SO TIGHTLY KNIT, RELYING ON EACH OTHER."

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