Jade Solomon Curtis, a dance artist and choreographer from Texas, was awarded a GAP award in 2016. She received her BFA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and worked as a company member with Opus Dance Theatre, Alison Chase Performance, Wideman/Davis Dance, and Spectrum Dance Theater. She has performed with the 5th Avenue Theater, Provincetown Dance Festival, Summerstage NYC, and DanceMotionUSA.
Compelled by social justice and subversive kickback, she founded the non-profit Solo Magic to mobilize and collaborate with other socially engaged artists. In her grant proposal for the production of Black Like Me: An Exploration of the Word Nigger, Jade considers the possibility of reclaiming a dehumanizing and derogatory word through multi-disciplinary dance and sound composition. “It considers the effects of the word ‘nigger,’ all its permutations, its history and its casual use in Hip Hop culture,” Jade explains on her website.
This event was performed for a youth only audience, as well as an audience of 21+ year-old adults. Some audience responses were:
“We need more of this arts education because not everyone knows what it means. We need to educate more people,” shared a 12 year-old youth audience member.
“Jade Solomon Curtis has created an incredibly poignant and powerful multi-media performance with her recent piece Black Like Me: Exploration of the Word Nigger. Her work inspires a critical and much-needed dialogue among the audience members around the use of the word and its lethal impact,” said an audience member.
“I now see that a word so historically rooted in the genocide and oppression of the African/Black people cannot ever rid itself of the trauma and negative energy that it holds and perpetuates,” reflected a 16-year old youth audience member.
On applying for grants and awards, Jade emphasized on the importance of remaining true to yourself and what drives your creative engine, while being mindful to be clear with your intentions and message. For GAP applicants, Jade says, “everyone who tells you no, listen to them, ask why, and then ignore them. The moment you make adjustments to your work and your vision based on other’s opinions, it is simply no longer yours and no longer based in your truth.”
Her final caveat is “apply for EVERYTHING!”
Jhenn Whalen is a graduate student of the MFA Arts Leadership program at Seattle University. She seeks stories and activities that spark curiosity, joy, and connection through the arts.