Established in 1982, Spectrum Dance Theater is the largest professional contemporary dance company in Washington, presenting work by Artistic Director Donald Byrd and guest artists, with a focus on Northwest choreographers. Its mission is to make dance accessible – without limitations – to the community through contemporary performances –and high-quality training in a variety of dance styles. Three organizational components comprise Spectrum: the Professional Company, the School, serving over 500 students, and Outreach Programs. Spectrum honors its commitment to accessibility by ensuring that its performances and dance classes are affordable and diverse, thus making its programs available to non-traditional audiences.
Under Donald Byrd’s visionary artistic leadership since 2002, Spectrum has embarked on an exhilarating transformation that has attracted world-class dancers, produced some of the most engaging works in contemporary dance, and generated acclaim in both local and national press
Spectrum’s educational programs offer 71 weekly classes to youth and adults at the Madrona Dance Studio, its home for over 25 years. The Academy Program, for dancers 14 to 21 years old, was launched in 2006 and has grown to become the only pre-professional contemporary dance training center in the region.
Since 2006, Spectrum was established as The Moore Theatre’s Resident Dance Company. All Spectrum Mainstage productions are co-presented in partnership with Seattle Theatre Group at The Moore Theatre. In addition, Spectrum self-presents its STUDIO SERIES at the Madrona Dance Studio.
Recent projects include the Premiere A Chekhovian Resolution, created by Byrd with Israeli choreographers Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror and premiered in Fall 2008. Described in the Seattle P-I as “one of the bravest and most striking works of art to open this season,” this work launched Spectrum’s innovative programming initiative, Beyond Dance: Promoting Awareness and Mutual Understanding (PAMU). Finally, the company’s touring schedule has greatly increased in recent years, including engagements at New York’s Dance Theater Workshop, Italy’s Spoleto Festival, Houston, Texas and Clearwater, Florida. In 2009, the company presented performances, workshops and residencies at major universities located in five states – from Pennsylvania to Utah.
Donald Byrd became Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater in December 2002. From 1978 – 2002, he was Artistic Director of Donald Byrd/The Group a critically acclaimed contemporary dance company, founded in Los Angeles and later based in New York, that toured extensively, both nationally and internationally.
Byrd created over 80 works for modern dance companies, for his own group, Spectrum, and the Ailey Company, and also for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco). He has choreographed for classical companies, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Aterballetto, MaggioDanza diFirenze, and Oregon Ballet Theater.
Projects for other dance companies include To Know Her..…(2007) a collaboration with jazzman Ramsey Lewis and the Ravinia festival for The Joffrey Ballet; J. Lawrence Paint (Harriet Tubman Remix) based on the paintings of Jacob Lawrence for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (2006). Additionally, he has worked with some of the most prestigious theater and opera companies in the country, including New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, the Intiman Theater, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera and New York City Opera.
The most recent works Byrd created for Spectrum include A Chekhovian Resolution, which premiered this last fall at the Moore Theatre, where Spectrum Dance Theater is the resident dance company. Other productions for Spectrum include Interrupted Narratives/War and The Theater of Needless Talents, which toured nationally in 2009. Other works include The Sleeping Beauty Notebook, which toured to New York and the Spoleto Festival in Italy; Bhangra Fever, performed by Spectrum in PNB’s April 2007 Celebrate Seattle Festival, and Petruchska/Miraculous Mandarin.
Mr. Byrd has served on the faculty of the California Institute for the Arts and taught at Wesleyan University, the School of Visual Arts, Harvard Summer Dance Center, California State University Long Beach, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Dance Theater Workshop in New York. He was a fellow at The Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard for three years. Byrd also served for three terms on the Seattle Arts Commission (Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.) In 2006, Byrd received a TONY nomination for his choreography for The Color Purple.