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By MARCIA B. SIEGEL  |  October 30, 2007

Seán Curran doesn’t dance much anymore, but he performed the astonishing solo St. Petersburg Waltz (2005), to music from Meredith Monk’s Volcano Songs. Over nine riveting minutes he suggested a whole village full of characters, or a single character’s intense inner life. In a high-collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a tie, a black vest with a watch chain in the pocket, a black fedora, pants, and bare feet, he seemed to be an uncle from a few generations ago. A butcher, maybe, or a postal clerk, a man who deals with lots of people but who’s introspective and maybe a little shy.

He dances or hums to himself, looks over his shoulder, holds animated conversations with invisible acquaintances, takes a turn around a dance floor with an invisible woman. Into this stream of busy interactions he flashes insincere salutes, militant struts, even a Nazi “Sieg Heil!” For a minute he appears to have been captured. At the end of the dance he’s bowing from the waist to an invisible superior.

I don’t know whether Curran was creating a portrait of a specific person or conveying the experiences of many persons. Maybe he was remembering the Holocaust; maybe he was reminiscing about a life as a Main Street mediocrity. Whoever he was, I recognized him.

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