A boxing ring inside a large warehouse during New York's Fashion Week last spring was the set for Nicola Curry's latest choreographic adventure. Donning the ornate necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings of the design team DANNIJO, Curry and her American Ballet Theatre/Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School cast performed a ballet surrounded by models, buyers and fashion photographers. The jewelry designers, who had recently begun taking boxing classes and had just been to a ballet performance, were launching a new line called Boxerina, inspired by both disciplines. Curry was hired a few weeks before their show to choreograph the launch.
It wasn't Curry's first round of dancemaking. Now 28, the ABT corps member got her choreographic break in 2010, when she participated in an initiative to foster ABT members' choreographic talent. With fellow corps member Eric Tamm, she had stayed late after rehearsals to experiment with new partnering ideas. “Her movement is very full, always musical and very strong to the eye," he says. The panel that judged the results included Kevin McKenzie, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon. “It was incredibly nerve-racking to be in front of them," Curry remembers. But her efforts paid off, and the panel selected her to create a new ballet for a special gala show. One opportunity led to another: McKenzie invited her to choreograph a pas de deux for Christine Shevchenko and Joseph Gorak to perform for the Erik Bruhn Competition; and choreographer Emery LeCrone selected her for the Young Choreographers Showcase in New York.
“Being on the other side is so eye-opening," says Curry. “You realize that adaptability, positive attitude and punctuality count for at least as much as, if not more than, technical proficiency." She admits that it can be “hard to put yourself out there," but takes solace in the advice that Ratmansky gave her before the curtain went up on her first creation: It never gets easier.
Dream role: “Anything dramatic and passionate—I love Kenneth MacMillan's ballets and his heroines."
If you weren't a dancer…: “I could see myself doing something in event planning."
Secret talent: “My sister and I have a fun challenge going where we do headstands around the world in interesting places—see us at #headstandsaroundtheworld."
What's next: Getting married, moving to Australia and joining The Australian Ballet