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Tag Archives: Donald Byrd

  • 8th Against the Grain/Men in Dance Festival

    Dioscuri photo by Colleen Dishy, dancers Danny Boulet, Sylvain Boulet, choreographer Donald Byrd.


    Attention Seattle dance fans! There's still time to purchase tickets to the oh-so-fabulous Men In Dance Festival! The biennial treat opens this weekend and is shaping up to be its best year yet! Check out the press release below for more details. {PS: We'll be there on opening night...will you?}




     (Seattle, WA) The 8th biennial Men In Dance (MID) Festival will be held at Broadway Performance Hall on the Seattle Central Community College Campus (1625 Broadway Seattle, WA 98122, (206)325-3113).  The festival will run October 8th & 9th at 8PM, 10th at 2PM and 15th & 16th at 8PM, 17th at 2PM.  Ticket price ranges from $12 to $20.  Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006.  Credit card purchases through Brown Paper Tickets.  Cash and check sales only at the door. 


    As the longest running dance festival in Seattle, MID brings together a broad cross-section of dance. From the genres of classical ballet, modern and tap, to the most current contemporary techniques including, spoken word and site specific work it’s all encompassing.  This powerful showcase will present new upcoming choreographic talent from Pacific Northwest Ballet, Cornish College of the Arts, and The University of Washington as well as some of our strongest choreographers from past festivals.  For the first time MID will expanded it’s reach past the Seattle area to bring in dancers from the Portland, OR based company Northwest Dance Project (Artistic Director Sarah Slipper) to perform a work created by one of our favorite past choreographers Gérard Théorêt.     


    Returning choreographers of note:  Donald Byrd, Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater, known for his thought provoking work will be premiering a new piece choreographed for Peter Boal, Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Noted in 2008’s festival for his duet "Dioscuri" (inspired by the Greek myth of twin brothers Castor and Pollux) Michael Upchurch at the Seattle Times said the piece was a “sense of being immersed in a world at once rivalrous, tender and hermetic”.  Also returning to the festival will be Olivier Wevers, Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer and Director/Founder of the contemporary dance company Whim W'Him.  Fresh from his company’s premier last year, Wevers brings a new era of collaboration and artistry with his choreography that is sure to set the bar for the festival.  One of the founding female choreographers, Deborah Wolf, Professor of Dance at Cornish College of the Arts, will be returning to premier a new piece.  Wolf has received acclaim for her 2008 festival submission “The Hip Deep Family” inspired by the gothic humor of illustrator Edward Gorey, by being picked as one of the finalists at On The Boards A.W.A.R.D. Show!, produced by the Joyce Theater Foundation. 


    New choreographers to note: Sonia Dawkins Director/Founder of Sonia Dawkins Prism Dance Theatre will have her premier at the festival this year.  Dawkins is known for explosive powerful movement with rhythm, speed and clarity of intention.  She will create a new piece for five male artists that focus on the “Voices of a Male”.  Also new to the festival this year is Barry Kerollis; dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Kerollis has been showcased three times at PNB’s annual Choreographer’s Showcase, and has already been noted for his work being “poignant, thrilling, architectural looking and momentum building”.  Kerollis will create a new piece for the MID festival that is inspired by a Brazilian instrumental group.  David Lorence Schleiffers, graduate of the University of Washington and Artistic Director/Resident Choreographer of Quark Contemporary Dance Theatre, will make his debut with our festival this year.  He will be reworking a former piece that looks at multiple aspects of male interaction including playfulness, friendship and a need for affection. 

    Our complete list of choreographers is as follows: Week 1 - Donald Byrd, Barry Kerolis, Cheryl Johnson, Wade Madsen, Jason Ohlberg, David Lorence Schlieffers, Eva Stone, Alia Swersky, Olivier Wevers, Deborah Wolf.  Week 2: Sonia Dawkins, Louis Gervais, Cheryl Johnson, Geoffrey Johnson, Jason Ohlberg, Christian Swenson, Alia Swersky, Gérard Théorêt, Markeith Wiley, Deborah Wolf. 


    As part of our community outreach, MID will be hosting a cross promotional ticket exchange with other performance venues.  In order to support all the great performances in the Seattle area we will offer discounted ticket prices for audience members that show a ticket stub from a participating performance group during the time of our performances.  Another way we are giving back to our community is by participating in the first Arts Crush.  This new month long festival will connect artists and audience with invigoration new experiences at hundreds of events across our region.  We will also be bringing back our family matinee performances, as we are committed to the idea that, dance is for all ages.  We hope that this festival inspires young people, particularly young men, to pursue their interest in dance.      


    For more information go to our website: or visit our Facebook page at:

  • Spectrum's Donald Byrd To Choreograph Oklahoma!

    2157261ok1The official announcement has been made! The 5th Avenue Theatre's production of  "Oklahoma!" will be choreographed by Donald Byrd, the famed Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater. "This season at Spectrum Dance Theater I have been exploring the theme of relationships, love and obsession," says Byrd. "I was excited to be approached by The 5th Avenue Theatre to work on Oklahoma! The Rogers and Hammerstein classic offers a unique perspective on these themes and provides fertile ground for fresh interpretations." ~ Quote: Oklahoma! will run from July 8-August 6, 2011. To read more about exciting production, please click here.

  • Spectrum Dance Theater Announces 2010-11 Season

    feature_10-11_smListen up, Spectrum fans! The repertoire for the 2010-11 season has been unveiled and it looks like (another) winner! As stated in their Press Release: "With two Studio Series, one main stage production, and three very unique collaborations, this season is bound to offer something for every taste...."


    To plan your ticket purchases and to learn more about the exciting upcoming productions, please click here.

  • Review: Spectrum Dance Theater's "FAREWELL"

    Oh, what a night! Spectrum Dance Theater’s “Farewell” at Seattle’s Moore Theatre was nothing short of spectacular. (Or to use the phrase I used immediately following the show: “That was so freaking good!”)

    "Farewell", Spectrum Dance Theater.  Photo by Gabriel Bienczycki, Zebra Visual



    Farewell is based on the novel, Beijing Coma, written by Ma Jian, an exiled Chinese author. The story’s male protagonist (played by Joel Meyer) is shot during the protests in Tiananmen Square, and then suffers a "waking coma"; alert yet paralyzed and unable to communicate. While lying in this state, his mind drifts back to the tragic events that put him there and the violent state of his country. The story juxtaposes with the relationship between China and America and their strong financial ties. It then shifts to our own cultural/social tragedy of Sept. 11th and the similarities between the two.

    The audio backdrop to this piece consists of part live music by local Chinese-American composer Byron Au Yong, part speaking (the dancers recited various speeches about democracy and economics through megaphones), and part recordings from emergency responders and news reports. This overlapping onslaught of sound which comes at you from all directions was at times very difficult to listen to. The people’s cries for change barely rose above the din of media coverage and political propaganda, which I felt symbolized how the media often confuses and drowns out the truth.

    During “Farewell”, audience members sit directly on and around the stage, either in chairs or on metal bleachers, which provides an intimate—or in the case of the bleachers—a deliberately uncomfortable feel. The scenery is comprised of a large photograph of China’s Chairman Mao which hangs above the stage’s large podium. On this podium sits Spectrum’s Artistic Director, Donald Byrd who signals the dancers with the word “Go” throughout the show. Oversized imagery featuring Tiananmen Square and September 11th are suspended from the ceiling, most of which are difficult to look at.

    But then, that’s the point.

    "Farewell", Spectrum Dance Theater.  Photo by Gabriel Bienczycki, Zebra Visual


    Yet for all the pain and heartbreak, there were several moments of sheer beauty provided by the Spectrum dancers. Their stretching, yearning, cowering and writhing—their hands and legs creating shape upon beautiful shape. Every one of them managed to add their own unique stroke of color to this intricate canvas, leaving many of us alternately gasping or wiping away a tear.

    Speaking of tears; as the performance moved into the September 11th attacks and the audio recordings made by New York emergency responders were played, there was hardly a dry eye around. I personally choked back tears as my mind was suddenly whisked back to the memories of that horrible morning. Toward the end on the audio, a witness describes the scene of people jumping from the windows of the Twin Towers to their deaths. Then shortly thereafter, the dancers (who've been using these wooden benches during the entire performance) stand the benches on-end and then slowly knock them over, one by one. SLAM!...SLAM!...SLAM!..SLAM! While Joel Meyer’s character lies center stage, cringing and crying on the floor. To me, this seemed to symbolize the sounds of those bodies falling from the burning sky above.

    In the final moments, what looks like a dead, soot and ash covered dove is placed on our comatose story teller’s chest. Perhaps this symbolizes the death of peace or how peace can rise from the ashes of tragedy? I can’t say for certain. But either way, the entire performance was very powerful, extremely moving and beautifully heartbreaking.

    Thank you, Spectrum and Donald Byrd for providing this serious, thought-provoking evening. It was a night I will remember and cherish for a very long time.

    by Denise Opper

    Media Relations:   Vala Dancewear / Class Act Tutu

    All photos by Gabriel Bienczycki, Zebra Visual

    Costumes by  CJDL Design.

  • Spectrum Dance Theater's Much Anticipated "FAREWELL"

    This weekend, the Seattle Theater Group will unveil Spectrum Dance Theater's latest work:  FAREWELL:  A fantastical contemplation on America’s relationship with China.  This highly anticipated piece represents the second year in Spectrum's three year initiative, Beyond Dance: Promoting Awareness and Mutual Understanding (PAMU).  The goal of PAMU is to bring collaborators together from all over the world to create works that "examine issues relating to personal liberty, freedom, security and social justice." (Quote: Spectrum Dance Theater.)

    Spectrum Dance Theater photo by Gabriel Bienczycki, Zebra Visual


    In FAREWELL, artistic director and choreographer, Donald Byrd builds a bridge between recent American and Chinese tragedies; specifically 9/11 and Tiananmen Square.

    In Part I: Considering Bejing Coma, Byrd draws inspiration from the novel, Beijing Coma written by exiled Chinese author Ma Jian.  This literary work tells the story of a young man who is shot while leaving the mayhem of Tiananmen Square, then suffers a waking coma and paralysis. In a creative twist, Byrd creates an American character who suffers the same fate, post 9/11.   In his now conscious but immobile state, the young man reflects upon his past and the events surrounding his country.

    Spectrum Dance Theater photo by Gabriel Bienczycki, Zebra Visual


    Part II is entitled, With Begging Bowls In Hand.  This piece draws its strength from a quote from a friend of Ma Jian's: “Foreigners come with begging bowls in hand. This is the future.” In this act, Byrd explores the delicate financial relationship between America and China.

    Farewell's musical score was composed by Seattle's own Byron Au Yong, a second-generation Chinese American.  Au Yong's perspective is sure to add a rich, unique layer to this complex, emotional and thought-provoking performance.

    You can catch FAREWELL at The Moore Theatre, February 18th--20th. For ticketing information, please visit

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