He grew up with Irish step dancing, went on to perform for 10 years with the critically acclaimed Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and then joined the cast of the off-Broadway hit "Stomp." The next challenge Sean Curran faced was going solo.
In crafting the hour-long, one-man show that he will perform this weekend, Curran says his priority was "investigating how I moved."
A dancer in a company is a tool for the choreographer -- go here, do this, don't ask questions. Curran had been directed by others for his entire professional life -- not that there's anything wrong with that, when you're a founding member of one of the country's most respected and provocative modern dance companies, and then you're snapped up by the hot percussive-music-and-dance show that quickly became a commercial sensation.
But Curran always knew he wanted to be a choreographer. Three years ago he formed a nine-dancer ensemble, Sean Curran Company, which has performed throughout New York City and has plans to tour. But Curran had begun work on several of his solos years before, shortly after leaving Jones/Zane.
"They're like journal entries," Curran says. "I was trying to reinvent myself."
Among the half-dozen works on the program is "Five Points of Articulation," which has been edited down to three sections, exploring the differences between loneliness and solitude. "Am I Dead Yet?" grew out of hospital visits with friends dying of AIDS. In "Average Tragedy," Curran carries around a full-size wooden door as a symbol of a past he is trying to come to terms with. The door also harks back to an old Irish tradition of taking a door off its hinges to serve as a makeshift dance floor, Curran says.
How much longer he'll be able to lug a door around on his back is anyone's guess; the 38-year-old Curran says he has "just started to feel the body going a bit." Still, what keeps him in the studio after so many years of toil is simple, and unchanged.
"The healing capacity of art," he says. "Art is like a religion for me."
SEAN CURRAN SOLOS -- Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. at Gunston Theater Two, 2700 South Lang St., Arlington. Tickets $15, or $50 for four. Call 703/228-6960.
CAPTION: Sean Curran went solo to investigate how he moves as an individual.