Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘The fact that I could make a living doing what I was doing made me very happy.’

Maurice Brandon Curry, Hicksville

“I started as a kid. My mom danced, and I was the last child, and my mom always had the hope that one of us would dance. Growing up in Manhattan, I was the only one left. I hated it at first, absolutely hated it. We had a recital, and people brought me presents, and my mother told me I couldn’t open those presents until I performed. And then when I got on the stage, I said, OK, this is cool. I was very young, and I loved it after that.

“I was 15 when I became an apprentice at New York City Ballet. I danced with them about a year and a half, but I wanted to do musical theater. I wanted to do other forms of dance, and that was how it all came to be. I did a lot of musical theater. I never did Broadway, but a lot of regional theater.

I definitely think we have created something very, very special.

“I was always happy to be working; being able to work was a gift. The fact that I could make a living doing what I was doing made me very happy. Looking back on how my role changed, I was always that kid who played with the boxes more than I played with the toys. I could make the box anything I wanted. I naturally fell into leadership positions, putting together little tours or shows here and there, choreographing some things. It kind of naturally evolved.

“I was the director of educational programs at Joffrey Ballet, artistic director of Lexington Dance Theater in South Carolina; I worked with the Boys Choir of Harlem as their choreographer for a while. I’ve done everything I wanted to do. In 2015, a former student heard the artistic director of Eglevsky [Ballet] was leaving and she called me, looking for someone to help them find a new director. I wasn’t interested in the job, but I said sure, I’ll help you find someone.

“But I got empathetic to the fact that these kids needed a leader, and that was what made me take the job. I think there is a historical element to holding this position. Mr. [Andre] Eglevsky started this company to teach kids, and I think that alone was super important — upholding the standards he set from the beginning, while balancing it with how dance has evolved. By upholding those standards that Mr. Eglevsky set from the beginning, I definitely think we have created something very, very special.”

Interviewed by Barbara Schuler