Demian Acquavella, 1958-1990
Story & Recording by Seán Curran
My name is Seán Curran, and back in the 1980s, my last best friend Demian Acquavella and I were dancers in the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane dance company. One day out on the road, we were rehearsing in a gymnasium, and at the end of that long rehearsal, Demian and I decided to go and take showers before the van came to pick us up to take us out for dinner.
We were in the shower together, and Demian very nonchalantly picked up his left arm and pointed to a big splotch on his inner bicep and said, “Hey, Seán, what do you think this is?”
I knew exactly what it was – it was a Kaposi’s sarcoma lesion. But I took a deep breath and said, “Wow, Demian, I don’t know, it looks like a bruise … Did somebody grab your arm or were you doing a duet with somebody?”
We got dressed and went out to wait for the van, but I said, “I think I forgot something.”
I ran back into the gym, I found a pay phone and I called Arnie Zane back in New York, collect, and I told Arnie that Demian had just shown me his first KS lesion. Arnie sprung into action and made a couple of appointments with doctors for Demian for when we returned back from the tour.
But then when I went back outside to wait with the dancers for the van to go to dinner, I noticed the other dancers were standing around talking, but that Demian had laid down on the very cold marble steps of this gymnasium building and he had fallen fast asleep. I thought to myself, there’s kind of a fork in the road for Demian and me today. And I don’t know why, but I took out my Instamatic camera that I had in my dance bag and I took a photograph of Demian asleep on the steps. After I got it developed, I put it in a frame and it’s been in my bedroom ever since and it’s a tribute to Demian and it’s a way for me to remember him.
I really miss Demian desperately and I also miss dancing the Bill T. Jones master work, D-Man in the Waters. It was a tribute to Demian and to so many of the other people we lost.
The epigram for Bill T. Jones’ piece is a truism by artist Jenny Holzer: “In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were filled with joy.”