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John Anthony Curry

choreographer , Ice skater

John Anthony Curry, British professional ice skater, choreographer. Decorated Commander Order British Empire; winner Junior British Skating Championship, 1967, Jennings trophy for free skating, 1968, British National Championship, 1970, European Championship, 1976, World Championship, 1976, gold medal Winter Olympics, Innsbruck, Austria, 1976. Member Pro-Skate.

Background

Curry, John Anthony was born on September 9, 1949 in Birmingham, England. Son of Joseph Henry and Rita Agnes (Pritchard) Curry.

Education

Began skating lessons at age seven. He became British men's champion in 1970; six years later, his innovative, ballet-inspired style was recognized and he won the European, World, and Olympic championships.

Career

Both before and after these victories, Curry made advancements in the physical training of skaters, including turnout (rotation of the legs from the hip joints), turning in both directions, and increasing flexibility to extend the stretched body line into space. In his professional career, he founded a series of small companies modeled on dance troupes, and initially commissioned works from recognized choreographers. His first company to appear in New York, on Broadway, was IceDancing, in 1978. He appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London and at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York with the John Curry Skating Company in 1984; the John Curry Skaters appeared at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C., in 1985. Creating an ice surface to cover the stage of an opera house proved problematic but was eventually achieved.

The notable commissioned works by Curry's venture were, principally, After All (1977), by Twyla Tharp; Tango-Tango, by Peter Martins (1978); and Burn, by Laura Dean (1984). Curry himself created the most important works as he developed as a choreographer, his most widely recognized being Glides (Glazunov, 1983), Trio (Satie, 1983), and Six Debussy Pieces (1985). In truth, his choreographing of individual works and his development of skaters were indissoluble, as has also been the case of the greatest dance choreographers such as Balanchine, Ashton, and Merce Cunningham. Though Curry sometimes worked with well-known skaters such as Dorothy Hamill, he most often engaged artistically gifted and sensitive skaters to whom he imparted his extended, secure, musical style. He transformed competitive skaters such as JoJo Starbuck and David Santee and revealed the talents of such unique individuals as Cathy Foulkes, Patricia Dodd, Nathan Birch, Tim Murphy, Shaun McGill, and Gabriella Galambos.

Management of the John Curry Skating Company proved unreliable in paying the live musicians Curry required for his companies, and legal difficulties resulting from this brought a lawsuit against Curry himself that essentially brought all his work to a halt in 1985. In 1992 he developed AIDS, about which he was quite open, as he always had been about his homosexuality. His innovative work in training skaters was continued by Birch and Murphy, who had become skating instructors in Baltimore, Md.

Works

  • Other Work

    • Choreographer: Glides, Skater's Waltz, William Tell, Winter Storms, Nightmare, Russian Sailor's Dance, On the Waterfront, Gershwin Pieces, others. Appeared in Broadway revival Brigadoon, A Symphony on Ice, 1984, in Cinderella, Liverpool Playhouse, 1986. Appeared in Public Broadcasting Service-television productions Peter and the Wolf, The Snow Queen (co-choreographer).Author: John Curry, 1978.

Membership

Member Pro-Skate.

Connections

father:
Joseph Henry Curry

mother:
Rita Agnes (Pritchard) Curry