Announcing Young Choreographers Showcase and Prize 2013. YCP Interview with Jessica Curiel

The San Diego Young Choreographers Showcase and Prize is back and you can help pick the winner!

CH prize web buttonCongratulations to this year’s finalists: Trixi Agiao and Arthur Huang, Blythe Barton, Jessica Curiel, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, Jamie Nixon, Jessica Rabanzo-Flores, Marygian Rebullar and Edrian Pangilinan, Lavina Rich, Tamara Saari, Angel Villalobos, Danny Dwaine Wells

The contestants are hard at work developing new works in the hopes of being this year’s winner. The decision will all boil down to votes- yours and the judges!

We are excited that the panel of judges weighing in include Sandra Foster-King, Michael Mizerany, Betzi Roe, Henry Torres, Terry Wilson, Javier Velasco. It is going to be a nail-biter with all of the talented dance-makers presenting in this show!

So what does this all mean in the weeks leading up to the big production?  Well, we have to get acquainted with the contestants of course!

First up is choreographer Jessica Curiel.  She has graciously responded to our interview questions in the hopes of giving you the opportunity to learn a little more about her and the piece she is creating for YCP. Let’s get to know her, shall we?

Tell us a little bit about your history in Dance:

IMG_1034I started dancing at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in the late 1980s. I instantly loved dancing. At age 14, I began to study modern dance with Jean Isaacs at a summer intensive workshop in Ramona, CA. And from then, I became a devout student of the Isaacs’ technique, a fusion of the Graham and Limon techniques. I graduated with a B.A. in dance from UCSD and then went on to train for a year at the Alvin Ailey School. I am deeply committed dance education and have been teaching since 1995. I feel that I had been given a great gift from the teachers at SCPA, UCSD, and Ailey and want to pass it on to the next generation of dancers.

In 100 words or less, why do you believe your work should win this competition?

I feel grateful and honored to be a part of this project. I respect many of the artists associated with The Young Choreographer’s Showcase and Prize. So, it’s hard for me to say my work is the best; better than that of my friends. My main focus for this competition is to create the best work I can; one that will evolve my own choreographic process, make the audience feel connected to the work during its performance, and one that will be remembered after the show is over. It would be icing on the cake if the piece was awarded a win.

What are the themes involved in your piece?

I am examining the dichotomy present in the saying that a person could be a loved one’s “rock”. I believe the intention is that whoever says, “He [or she] is my rock” is saying that this person is their foundation, an unyielding support. Yet, can’t rocks also act as anchors, keeping one from purposely moving on? This piece explores ties, commitments, and bonds between people in relationships.

Is this a new exploration for you?

April 29 2012 Elegy Color

Telling a story or working from a theme is not a new exploration for me. However, the entire process of creating this dance is the exact opposite of my choreographic method. I have always stepped into choreography with a musical choice and a prepared overall design. This time around, I have really battled with music and the choreographic blue print, the bits that are usually my favorite aspect of dance making and the easiest for me. I have talked with the dancers about why particular movements should take place and why a character in the story would do them. In response, they have been very supportive. They have a “whatever you want us to do” attitude and are very open to erasing my sketch lines to reveal a clearer picture of this story. I am taking this dance one choreographic minute at a time. Not knowing what HAS to happen is actually a relief because I can live in the moment rather than thinking about what will happen next. Hmmm… sounds like a great New Years’ Resolution.

What do you want your audience to know coming into the performance?

I would like the audience to know that I am working with some EXCELLENT dancers. They are the greatest crew of movers and thinkers. We all share similar sensibilities about choreography and moving. Most of us have been dancing together since the early 2000s. I admire them all as dancers and choreographers.

I want the audience to be emotionally moved and share in the story on stage. The dancers understand my intention and are communicating this desire very clearly.

I want the audience to love this piece and remember it after the show is over, and, maybe, even think about it in the weeks after the show. That’s the goal of great art. And I am striving to be a great artist.

The show is just around the corner, so get your tickets and come support up-and-coming artists in San Diego!
All tickets $20. Award ceremony and reception following the second performance.
Purchase tickets online at
For tickets and more information, call San Diego Dance Theater at 619.225.1803.
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