[an error occurred while processing this directive] Our Memories of Terrance [an error occurred while processing this directive]
These reflections and memories of Terrance Curtis have been given to us by the dear friends of Studio A Dance. Thank you to everyone for sharing your wonderful remembrances.
I was told when I arrived to teach last Wed. and still am torn between just wanting to sit in sorrow... or dance my heart out in respectful tribute... neither serves to shed the sadness of losing our fabulous Terrance who's patient warmth and wisdom encouraged and empowered us to dance through life whether offstage or ON.
I'm so grateful to have shared a little time and some kindred feelings, and been on the receiving end of his kind and generous Spirit.
Bless you, Terrance, from the soles of your adept feet to the radiant soul of your beloved being. Dance on! Dance up!!
I can't believe he's no longer here in the flesh, though I know his spirit is still dancing around that studio...
The first class I ever took at Studio A was Terrance's evening ballet class. I was terrified and he was so welcoming and kind. I was so impressed that this white haired gentlemen was executing first position grand plies like they were nothing, that I soon forgot to be nervous and I found my feet again.
A few years later I had the real thrill of dancing with him briefly in our little Edna St. Vincent Millay piece, and it was like dancing with Fred Astaire. So easy and confident, and yes a bit of a ham, but it was exactly what was required and his instincts were right on the money. As always.
And that magnificent night downtown for the Halloween concert before the movie. No one worked a cape better than Terrance. No one ever will...
I think of that Martha Graham quote that he always read at the dance concerts that says we have no right to keep our unique gifts to ourselves. Terrance certainly didn't. He gave freely, shared openly and always always always made me laugh. I miss him...
I just got home from Florida and saw this message. It made me scream.
Can't believe Terrance is "gone" he had such a Great Light in him and was so incredibly warm, encouraging... could be a good friend to someone he hardly knew (me, for one).
I remember back in '92, we were celebrating his birthday at the Studio and people were discussing his health problem and he was saying that he felt better. "But you know my motto," he called out. "Live, Darling, Live! Until there's nothing left for them to take."
He was gay in the oldest and truest sense of the word. (I used to tell him about my ongoing problems with my conservative lawyer brother who is afraid he'll have to take care of me one day if I go totally bankrupt and Terrance said: "Just say, 'You have to take care of me, brother dear, because I have tousled hair."
Life just won't be the same without him. But somewhere right now he's dancing. That much I know.
When I first met Terrance and became acquainted with his work, it used to baffle me, a creature of rabid ambition, that a man with such talent and great generosity should live what appeared to me to be a small life.
When I first took class with him, I had not danced in twenty years or so, and when I performed a certain move at the bar, it made me weep. Terrance said, “Movement unlocks emotions. It releases people”
In the few years that I have known him, I never heard Terrance utter a bitter thought. He was happy just to be an artist. Success had very little to do with it. He demonstrated how profoundly we can be affected by small things. He majored in psychology in college, and in his Writing, Teaching, Dancing he was a healer. He transformed many lives with, for example, his outreach classes for troubled girl gangsters, and his enthusiasm for mature beginners embracing dance for the first time in years or perhaps ever, and his passion for nurturing and rehabilitating artists in other disciplines such as music, theatre, and graphic arts. I count myself among these.
In my benign but ignorant way, I initially viewed Terrance in the light of his being a man who loved men, and then was surprised to find in his choreography and his writings, that he was sincerely devoted to women. I spoke to him of it and he said, “Of course! How could I not? From little girls to grandmothers, women are beautiful, women are fascinating. They’re my whole life”
Now, I may continue to crave commercial success as an artist, but Terrance taught me by example, that the art alone is what is meaningful. Just being an artist is to be enormous in the universe.
Forever, whenever I hear “Swan Lake”, I shall think of Terrance and, in my liberated heart, take a long slow bow to honor him.
W.A.L. (William Lampley)
To Bill & my friends at Studioadance,
My heart sank when I heard of Terrance's passing. Although I knew his days were numbered, he seemed to have this unstoppable battery! He will be greatly missed. I am thankful for my encounters with his creativity, love for life and constant pursuit of the "next event".
If appropriate, I would like to offer my services to participate in the music for his funeral and/or memorial service. I was thinking of offering our "duet" music that he and I performed during Cumulus 2000. It would simply be entitled, "Duet minus one"...
He was a wonderful man who touched many peoples hearts with his creativity, kind spirit and generosity. I am thankful our paths crossed and wish him well on his "next event".
Gracias, Mr. Curtis!
My name is Daniel Rojo. I met Mr. Curtis 13 years ago. I lived in LA at that time and was 27 years old. I rented space to teach Mexican Folk Dance, and I was fortunate to perform a piece in Cumulus, which was choreographed by Terrance. We made a sincere friendship, and he introduced me the whole group of artists-many nice and very talented people.
One day I was desperate because I felt that I needed a change in my career. I visited Terrance and he recommended that I take what I had learned and go back to my country. I took his advice and now have 11 years in Mexico City doing musicals! The Wiz, Singing in the Rain, Once on this Island, Evita, The Most Happy Fella, Magical Moments Disney, and more! Terrance helped me to have this marvelous experience. That is why I'd like to say, Thank you, Terrance! You gave me strength to make that decision in my life. I dedicate to you my profession, my important moments, my openings in theatre. Gracias!
About a month ago, I was driving past Studio A, and decided to stop by to show Terrance my African Talking Drum. It was a gift from my mother when I was 18 in San Francisco. A rare piece, it stands three feet tall and is mounted on metal legs. Shaped like an hour glass, and lined with taught string, squeezing the strings makes the drum "talk".
Terrance was kicked back in a chair while four women were on the floor stretching. I said, "Terrance, check out my drum"...I began playing as Terrance talked. Then I said, "Hey, Spoken Word over drums...what were you doing in 1979?", and he went off. A true poetic soliloquy. His parents, NY City, Dancing, and as the girls stretched, I played and Terrance talked - it was amazing.
"We should have recorded that!" I said when we stopped."Next time." That was a special moment for me, and one I will never forget.
Greg Wachs, aka The Eggman
Terrance was a wonderful person and ran a really nice studio. I really enjoyed your performances there! There was such an intimate feel at his studio.
There was one performance that Terrence did with a young female dancer and man, ...was he on! Just great!
I also took some ballet classes there. It was lots of fun! He was fun! I remember he had us just walking across the floor like divas and you know me... It was hard to carry the diva attutude without laughing, but I tried... and had fun trying!
Catherine Mc Croskey
In Memory of "T"
I met Terrance 23 years ago, under not very good circumstances. His mother was very ill and his baby brother and I were trying to arrange for her care.
He came home in December of 1980 and while he was here, we formed what was to be the best relationship a sister and bother-in-law could have. We were, the three of us, Bob, 'T' and I connected. Weeks never went by without us calling LA or Terry calling Ohio.
After Bob and I were married we visited Terry's brother in Michigan, and the following year we went to LA for eight of the busiest fun filled days I can remember. We were up at dawn and off to see sights with either Bill or Terry depending on the Studio schedule and Zo and Terry took us to Disneyland with the understanding in Terry's words that we "would not even dare to hum the tune from 'Its a Small World' or we would have to leave immediately" We did not hum a note stayed two more days and thanks to the wonderful friends he has in California, we had a great trip!
After that trip Terry always came to Ohio---to rejuvenate. I think he called it. He always came in the Fall to see the beautiful colors of Ohio, but the year we put an in ground pool in, (which he spent most days supervising the construction) he decided it would be better to visit in late August and enjoy the pool and the green trees---funny, he always called it a dust free environment, and I took that as a complement. He had a room which was and always will remain his room---in our home.
He always caught up with old friends sometimes the same ones sometimes new old friends and we are both very happy to know his family in California took such good care of him. I think he was very grateful that he had two families---Bob and I feel his presence still and will miss his visits, but know in our hearts he is here with us in every way, as he is with all the people he has touched. We always knew he was special, like his mother, he just had a way with people!
As in 'T's' words---we will see him again 'in moments my love'!
Victoria V Curtis
This is so hard to write because in my mind Terrance will never be gone and will never be forgotten.
Coming back to Studio A after being tied up for months in a theatrical endeavor film or tour was like coming home. Terrance was always a constant. Always elegant, always witty. I always smiled when I came back to class and caught my first glimpse of Terrance.
Because of Terrance I got back into the ballet regime instead of just staying with what came easy for me the jazz, the tap, the hip-hop. When Terrance caught me looking myself over at the barre he would say "Miss. Gaybis you don't think I can see you but I see ALL. I am looking for the both of us."
Terrance created the last four incarnations of my cabaret act including the current one. Terrance made me trust in myself that you can tone things down and stand very still after gyrating all over the place and you will not loose the audiences interest in large performing venues. He allowed me to have keys to the studio so I could go over what we rehearsed till I felt comfortable with it. Terrance would be my first call when I got back from the road to tell him how everyone reacted to certain bits and pieces we had worked out. It was like he could see into my brain and know what I was capable of.
When you find someone like that. Someone you can be yourself with. You don"t want to go with anyone else.....ever. You don't want him to go anywhere else......ever.
I have told every choreographer that I have worked with since I found Studio A about Terrance. From Alan Johnson to the Walter Painters they knew that I had found a very special place with a very special person.
I remember when Terrance and I went to see "Angels In America" at the then Doolittle and how we took in both parts on the same day. We walked over with some of his friends to Musso and Franks and Terrance was awed by my choice of a sardine sandwich on a kiaser roll. He turned to his colleagues and said "How brave!" Or when he allowed me to take him to Hard Times Pizza since he wondered how I or anyone could tolerate Palermos which he claimed as "pedestrian". He subjected himself reluctantly to Hard Times pizza offering and then ate not one but two of those giant single slices with an orange soda. He pronounced it "satisfactory."
Terrance, you are one of the most memorable people I have ever met. Your spirit surrounds me now and always will be part of my life. I have tried to paint a partial picture with this writng for their are so many scenes to so many acts. I just say "thank you to the forces that be that allowed this man into my life" because you will always be in our hearts and minds for we will "see you in just moments."
From the files of "Long Ago and Far Away"
I spent my late-teens and early-20s sweating and straining at Moro Landis – Joe Tremaine's headquarters for decades. I was a very large duck out of water with glasses, big hair straining against the world's largest bobby pins, and all the wrong clothes. Joe Tremaine began a transition not necessarily resulting in a swan but, at least, he helped with the size, the glasses, and the clothes. But mostly with the dancing. Never thinking this metamorphoses was at all a noticeable act, I was taken aback when a tall, nice looking man with salt and pepper hair told me I was becoming a very good dancer.
Well, I'm no longer in my 20s or 30s. Life has gotten in the way spilling years, decades, and millennia. Nevertheless, I made a friend a few years ago and one of the discoveries we shared was a life's history with dance. Eventually, she lured me to her local studio Studio A. I knew of Studio A having passed it many times when I'd taken my car to be repaired at one of the numerous auto shops that lines Hyperion. Why I took note of the hideaway dance spot who can say. Perhaps it's a preternatural dance gene that retains by osmosis the location of dance studios, dancewear stores, dancers who have appeared in movies as carnival attendees and clambake participants; the gene that analyzes how people move and remembers their faces.
As it happens, Terrence Curtis had one of those faces; more particularly, one of those heads of hair. I arrived at Studio A one Saturday afternoon . . . and there he was, "that man from Joe Tremaine's." Just as tall, just as nice looking with, well, the salt and pepper hair was now mostly salt, but it was the same nice man. I told my friend my "small world" story and from then on I'd ask about Terrence. I'd think fondly of Terrence. Now I'm sharing a memory of Terrence.
He wasn't my friend, per se, but he – with that gorgeous head of hair – will always be a kindred spirit.
Hearing this is, I do not have words at this time. I am so thankful for the time I spent with him and his kindness. I found a home in the love of the studio and both of you. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn and grow with the help of a wonderful man.
I took a little time off from the life of dance, however whenever I look back I see some of the happyist times in a dance studio in the rooms of Studio A. I have been pulled back in to dance and full circle maybe where life opens a new door through the light of one who is an angel indeed.
The words are not clear and the time is never right, yet I fill blessed to have known him and that is where I shall end this.
Love, I Winifred
It was with SUCH sadness that I learned of the passing of Terrance. Of course we all know there is a spirituality to life, and life cannot be taken from anyone, but still, we are saddened when the form departs.
Al and I were students with Terrance for only about a year, but in that time, he made a very deep impact on our lives. He changed our thoughts and ways of looking at things forever. This is for sure. He taught me how to carry myselfas a person who is proud of herself and proud of her life.
Terrance IS a true artist. He was able to see art everywhere and in everyone. His love for other people was ever evident... Gosh, this is so hard... He was just such a WONDERFUL person. I wish I could have said goodbye to him. But with this message, I wish him well on his way, onto more beautiful creations and on to touch many more lives.
Terrance, Terrance, Terrance. We will see you in "mere moments!" We shall miss you until then, Fine Friend.
I owe Terrance a great deal. My early years in Los Angeles would have been quite difficult if he had not invited me to teach at the studio on Hillhurst. My first class there was on April 1, 1985. I think of it every year.
To Dear Bill and Zo:
The sadness of Terrance's passing still invades me from time to time, and then I think back at all the wonderful and hysterical times we shared as artists. Terrance was an amazingly intuitive dancer/choreographer, and his ability to see into the human psyche always amazed me. He took the "movement doesn't lie," idea just a little further, gently suggesting what the problem might be. His humor was always a joy to me, and I find solace in remembering.
We were partners in many dances before he began Cumulus, and one in particular was at the Santa Barbara Outdoor Bowl. We were dancing in a work called, "El Popol Vuh" (based on the ancient creation myth of the Mayan Indian.) We wore masks made out of fiberglass/resin and padded inside with about 2 inches of foam rubber. The eyes were slits with no periferal vision. They were hot and heavy. On our hands were long, swordlike props made to look like leaves. The dance required jumps and several lifts. Just before Terrance was to catch me on his hip as I came flying, the fuses blew and lights went out. The stage was dark, and I heard his unmistakeable voice, half amused, half hysterical, "Carter, where are you?" I said, "Ter, just stay where you are." We completed the lift, but he was laughing and then I started. Good thing we were wearing masks.
Terrance was always true to himself and his ideals, and never wavered from the vision he had for his life. I treasure our time together, and I will miss him.
With love and affection
I first saw Terrance from the door of Studio A, leading across the floor a group of women who were as different from one another as could possibly be in age, shape and skill level. But Terrance had them all in the moment, so alive, transformed and utterly bigger than life. I was hooked. I knew I would come back, it looked like such a good time.
And I did come back, but in those days I was old, injured and discouraged from dance. I had danced with a modern dance company for years and grew too old, truthfully, to continue on with that choreography. I had lost my heart for dance but I refound it with Terrance.
Terrance was a gifted teacher. When he watched, he really watched. He taught me what in 30 years of dancing, no one had ever taught me before. How to connect with my back, how not to look in the mirror or at the floor, how to moisten my lips and not zone out in my mind, how to feel my fingers and toes, and most of all, how to move as an older dancer so I can keep dancing. To appreciate the beauty of lines where the leg extension is low because the dignity of just being there to dance is enough. I didn't have to work so hard at dancing, I could just dance for the pure love and let the rest go. And it was a good time, he regaled us with the many stories of his childhood, his mother, memories from long ago and what he would eat after class.
When I first performed in Cumulus, I hadn't performed in over 5 years. I thought my performing life was over but I was wrong. I went on to dance for 5 years in Terrance's dances in Cumulus, each one different from the next. I did things I never dreamed I could do, like lip-sync, climb a ladder, drag a feather boa across stage, speak while dancing. I became many different people through Terrance. He saw sides to me only I knew and showed me how I could share myself with an audience.
In my last class with Terrance, he told me all my hard work would pay off. It surprised me. And after class he talked about the next dance he was choreographing for all of us. It would have words, he was writing it. And he was going to dance in it too.
Since then, I have dreamt of that dance many times. I have woken up exhausted from the many rehearsals we have had. He has choreographed every moment of my sleeping life. I have danced through my classes at school, arguments with my students, discussions with colleagues, other dreams, and while I cooked, cleaned and dressed... everything at night is a dance and he is choreographing it all.
Your spirit is here T, it's on to the next event. See you in just moments...
To try to express the weight of my sorrow and deep, deep regret over Terrance no longer with us seems impossible at the moment. My heart becomes heavy when I think that I will no longer be able to call out "T C" and hear, that flamboyant, dramatic, splendid, over-the-top response of "Oh, B V!"
The day I was told of Terrance's passing, when I had gotten into my car, I turned on the engine and Aretha Franklin's voice filled my car, singing Natural Woman. I had her CD in my player. And I realized then, as I listened to these lyrics, that they best expressed how Terrance fulfilled the role he was destined to play here on earth.
Looking out on the morning rain
Terrance, thanks for the memories...and the laughter...and the joy we shared each time we got together. I will miss you greatly.
I haven't been at the studio in several years, but I was reading the obits for work, believe it or not and when I saw Terrance Curtis, I thought, I know that name. Then when I saw Studio A, I gasped. I didn't even know Terrance was so seriously ill. And having read the messages on the website, I realize I didn't know Terrance at all. But I remember him nonetheless.
How sweet he was the first time I bought a dance card at the studio. How he spoke to me as if we'd known each other for years, and remembered my name, when I was taking classes regularly with Nancy and Jennifer.
I only took Terrance's ballet class once or twice because I was too impatient and self-conscious to stick with it, but I remember his personality, his energy, his positive attitude. And I wrote down that Martha Graham quote that he used every year for Cumulus no artist is ever satisfied. I didn't "know" Terrance, but I am shocked and saddened just the same. He was a sweet, lovely person.
One couldn't help but fall in love with Terrance. In part, this was because he was a beautiful and elegant man. In other part, if you slid into his gaze (and sooner or later you would because he noticed everything), then you might not simply fall, butas in my caseyou would tumble wildly into this love, dance it time and again at Studio A. On some days, it felt like you could fly across the heavens. If this sounds like an extraordinary kind of love, it is. But, this is the way Terrance made you feel.
I have so many wonderful memories of Terrance: studying with, warming up with, dancing with, and performing with him, speaking in metaphor with him, sharing secrets (some of them naughty) with him, laughing with him. (Oh, how he could laugh!) But mostly, he had a way of nudging me out of myself. He did similar things for others, helped many of us blossom in unexpected ways. Helped us find, and treasure, aspects of ourselves we did not know existed. In other words: Who was I? Was I Mary? Marilyn? Brigitte? Titania? This became a special greeting of his: "Hello, my love, with whose company are we blessed today?"
One day after class as we were leaving the studio, giggling and being silly, we ran into another student, someone I had not yet met. She asked if he and I were brother and sister. It was startling how these words affected me. I looked at him anew. No, we weren't, and yet, in many ways, we were. I have often returned, with reverence and with joy, to this thought: the honor of being considered kin to him...
Thank you, beloved brother; be well, beloved friend. You are in my heart. Always.
Sister Mary-Claire (he'll know...)
Dearest Terence - He made everyone feel special in his class. I remember walking into his classroom and transforming into a diva-ballerina. He also brought out the fun and irreverent Puck-ish side in people. At first, I dismissed his style of teaching ballet for lack of formality and discipline. Later, I came to love his approach because it encouraged us to express different aspects of ourselves that otherwise would remain undiscovered in other classes. I felt at home in his class. He was a friend and a father figure. Farewell dear man! I will always keep your memory alive in my heart.
I met Terrance at the Jewish Community Center, holding my five week old baby daughter, Jessica, September of 1981. I was waiting for Julie Rose, my two and half year old daughter , who had just started nursery school, to finish her morning at school. I heard the music, I met this man, who said he was the teacher, he and I chated and I said I would come and try his jazz class. From that day forward I took Terrance's class every Wednesday and Friday morning at the Jewish Community Center. I was with Terrance when he opened his own studio...Studio A Dance on Hillhurst. I continued to dance with Terrance for the next five years. Dance was only a part of Terrances' magic. We became fast friends, in fact, he became a dear friend to my entire family. Peter, my husband was an intern at Children's Hospital, Julie Rose was a nursery school student, Jessica was a newborn, and Leslie( that's me) was a professional dancer who had just returned to the Los Angeles area. I had just given birth to my second daughter, Jessica, I had not taken a class for four months, I was not in "good shape". I took one class with Terrance, loved him, loved the class, loved Bill, loved Jane, and never missed a class with Terrance for the next five years.
My husband, Peter was just starting his internship and residency at Children's Hospital, we had no money, no help, but Terrance had a magic in his soul that made me want to dance with him. Terrance and I became fast friends, my girls adored him, as did my husband Peter. The Shulman family spent many years with Terrance dining together, attending theatre and dance performances, and having wonderful parties at my home with many well known dancers, chorographers and good friends. Julie Rose, now an accomplished dancer herself, at the age of two and a half, stated oneday that she had a new name for Terrance..."Grampa". Julie Rose took her first ballet class at Studio A, along with actor Richard Thomas' twin daughters, amoung many other lovely children. My daughter Jessica danced the afternoon away at one of the many parties held at Studio A, she was all of one year. Peter never danced with Terrance, but Terrance and Peter were good friends and spent many evenings together. When I told Peter of Terrances' passing, Peter stated that Terrance was truly a good person. This was a feeling agreed upon by the entire shulman family.
Terrance gave me the opprotunity to launch the children's ballet department at Studio A. I was just one of the many talented teacher's Terrance employed. The list is long and impressive, for example, Jean Marie Martz, a former member of the Stuggart Ballet and, for the past fifteen years, the Ballet Master at The Idyllwilde School of Music and Art. The teacher's all held great respect for Terrance and always appreciated the fact the Terrance was so positive in his approach to dance. I also had the good fortune to perform with Terrance . I was one of the dancers in Terrance's first production of Cumulus. Terrance was forever creating, whether it be in the world of dance, painting, or writing.
I, along with Julie Rose, Jessica, and Peter, had the good fortune to have Terrance Curtis in our lives for twenty two years. I will miss Terrance, I do miss Terrance, I only hope that he knows how much all of the Shulman family loved him, and how much they will miss him. I know in my heart that Terrance, wherever he may be, is dancing.
Leslie Aqua Viva Shulman