FBP’s 40th Anniversary Season continues with the second installment of Up Close On Hope (UCOH). FBP’s Black Box Theater series has become known for presenting world premieres from emerging choreographers in an intimate setting. Next month, Up Close honors that tradition by introducing the FBP audience to two new UCOH creators. One of those choreographers is the brilliant Kurt Douglas.
Currently serving on the faculty at Boston Conservatory, Kurt Douglas has shared his talent with a number of renowned dance companies including Limón Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico, and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Douglas has performed on stages all across the globe, and was given the prestigious Princess Grace Award recognizing exceptional professional dancers in 2002.
We checked in with Kurt to hear a bit more about his background, his experience touring the world with the Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line, and what it’s like working with the dancers of FBP on his latest creation…
Hey, Kurt! Let’s jump right in. What is your first dance-related memory?
My earliest memory was from my first year as a student at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High school of Music Art and the Performing Arts in NYC. I remember sneaking up to the top floor dance studios to watch the senior dance majors during their Martha Graham Technique Classes.
“It was like watching electricity fly through space. I was inspired, I was hooked.”
Wow. It seems you really were hooked- from there you earned your B.F.A. from Boston Conservatory and your M.F.A. at Hollins University. How do you think this education shaped your career as an artist?
Investing in my education has given me an opportunity to gain perspective into the possibilities of what movement can evoke. I was able to learn from my professors as well as from my colleagues.
“Observing and learning from the journey of my fellow students inspired my creativity and empowered my own agency.”
I love the idea that observing can be very empowering. So when you started dancing professionally yourself, how did that part of your career influence your expression as a choreographer?
Working with these incredible companies has helped me gain tools while I continue to develop my own choreographic voice. The experience and growth I gained from touring the world and experiencing other cultures can never be replaced. For that I feel truly blessed.
Your career has been very diverse. What was it like to tour the country performing the Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line and how did this differ from the previous companies you were a part of?
The biggest difference was the amount of performances per week. With A Chorus Line we performed 8 shows a week compared to 2-3 shows a week while in the other companies. Getting to perform A Chorus Line was an amazing experience. The most challenging parts were vocal maintenance (taking care of my voice) and keeping the show feeling fresh after 250 performances. The best rewards were performing at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo. The time I spent in these countries taught me so much about myself.
And now we are so lucky to have you in our lovely little corner of the world! What is your favorite part of the creation process?
My favorite part is working in the studio with the artists. I love trying to figure out solutions to complex choreographic challenges while in the rehearsal process.
How has your experience been working with the dancers of FBP?
“Working with the incredible artists at FBP has been truly rewarding. The dancers energy and commitment to the process is astounding. Each dancer brings their unique and rich movement history to the process and I can’t wait to share it with the Providence community.”
Thank you so much, Kurt!
To see Kurt’s world premiere at Up Close On Hope, click here.
This post was written by Kirsten Evans. The author is in her eighth season as a Company Dancer with Festival Ballet Providence. She is also the Company PR & Communications Assistant, as well as the writer of a personal blog, Setting The Barre.