We had the good fortune of connecting with Coley Curry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Coley, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
I was drawn to this question of talking about a book and why I like it, because I have loved reading since a very young age. But then I encountered the challenge of choosing which book to talk about, there have been so many that have impacted me. And then I thought back to this post I saw a few years ago on social media. A mother shared the following questions that had been displayed on the wall of her child’s classroom: “Who writes the stories? Who benefits from the stories? Who is missing from the stories?” The fact that these questions are being posed to children causes me a certain amount of relief. Kids are being asked to notice who is absent from our stories and from our dialogue. When I was young I was not actively taking note of who was missing from my stories, but I was still soaking up the versions of the world that I read about – and I read A LOT. The legends and tales that I grew up on helped shape my worldview and my being. I was able to find pieces of myself inside of characters that were entirely different from me, because that’s part of the magic of reading. But at the same time there can be another underlying message. In those versions of the world someone with my background, someone like me did not exist. As an adult when I read the young adult novel, ‘The Land of Forgotten Girls’ by Erin Entrada Kelly it unlocked something inside of me. There was so much catharsis involved in reading about a young Filipina girl living in the U.S. It felt beautiful just to hold her story in my hands. The story was about sisterhood, imagination and it had elements of both fantasy and realism. It also explored what it can be mean to be part of a diaspora. I wonder what it would have meant for me to read this book as a kid, but it was still incredibly special to read it as an adult.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a dancer, artist, educator and facilitator. My most recent work was a collaboration with local artist, Ruby Morales. Together we made a dance film exploring elements of ritual and prayer; tying together pieces of our personal stories, our cultures, our histories, our practices and weaving it all together. The film premiered earlier this year at the Arizona Drive-In Dance Film Festival. In my movement I aim to create spaces for community, healing, liberation, storytelling, movement explorations, and taking ownership of cultural and personal narratives.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a friend visiting for a week, (assuming we’re imagining a time free of COVID restrictions, when all of these activities can be engaged in safely) I’m sure we would do a couple of hikes. Possibly something really close like camelback or heading out to the superstitions, or maybe we would take a day trip out to Sedona. I would also take my friend to my favorite yoga studio Spirit of Yoga in Tempe to take a class. There’s a really cute little park in back where we could have a picnic afterward. I have a lot of dancer friends, so maybe a we would go to the Jukebox Dance Studio to take a class. Since, I’m suggesting a lot of physical activities it would also be great to schedule an appointment at SWIHA (Southwest Institute of Healing Arts) to get a massage or one of the other services from their specialty clinic. Before the trip is over we would do a sunset walk over by Tempe Town Lake and if the weather was nice, we could rent a pedal boat too.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shoutout ‘The Land of Forgotten Girls’ by Erin Entrada Kelly. It was the first book I ever read that featured a main character who was Filipinx. As the child of an immigrant it holds a special place in my heart. Props to all the writers, artists, and makers who are bringing representation of stories and characters that have been marginalized and discounted for so long.
Tim Madril, Coley Curry