Spectrum Dance Theater Programs
Spectrum Dance Theater is comprised of three programmatic divisions that include a professional contemporary dance company directed by one of America’s foremost choreographers, Donald Byrd, a dance education program that trains over 500 students each year in our Madrona Park studios, and our community engagement and extension programs that go into schools around the area for in-school and after-school programs.
The dance company, under the direction of Donald Byrd, presents rigorous and exhilarating contemporary dance that challenges the audience to think and engage with the world around them. In efforts to broaden and diversify the audience for contemporary dance in Seattle, Spectrum produces an annual season that includes performances in a variety of venues around the city including intimate, informal productions in the organization’s Studio Theater in Madrona Park. The company’s touring schedule is also significant. They completed a national tour in fall 2012 and will tour Asia as guests of the State Department in 2013.
Spectrum provides high-quality, affordable and accessible dance training and instruction. Over 500 students of all ages come through our studios each year. Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, West African, East Indian, Hip Hop, Creative, Tap, and creative movement for toddlers are offered. Over $30,000 in financial aid is awarded annually to families who need assistance. Spectrum's younger students are 18 months and the most "mature" are in their 80s.
Spectrum works with public and private schools to provide culturally relevant, challenging and fun classes as both in-school and after-school activities. An example of this is “From Benin to Bahia,” a multi-week course that takes middle-school students on a dance odyssey tracing traditional African dance through the African Diaspora all the way to contemporary Brazil. The Spectrum school is also a collaborative partner with Seattle Theatre Group, Evergreen Hospital, Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, and Mark Morris Group in offering free Dance for Parkinson’s classes, in Kirkland, Seattle and Des Moines.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Spectrum's reputation, throughout the Northwest, nation, and internationally, is of a dance company that takes on big ideas and is unafraid to take risks in the interest of creating art and enhancing humanitarian values. Donald Byrd’s work is recognized as rigorous, technically brilliant, intellectually challenging, confrontational, and slyly humorous.
This reputation led the company to be invited to participate in DanceMotion USA, a project of the Department of State's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The company will tour through this program to Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh in 2013 as cultural representatives of the United States.
In fall 2012, the company conducted a national tour that included performances at Notre Dame University and University of Texas, Austin, as well as in New Hampshire, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Memphis.
Development of a solid dance audience in Washington State is important to the organization taking the company recently to Tacoma, Walla Walla, Orcas Island and San Juan Island. In May 2013 they will play Olympia. Locally, artistic collaboration is seen as a beneficial way to increase audience. Spectrum has worked with Music of Remembrance, Early Music Guild, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Men’s Chorus, The 5th Avenue Theatre, ACT Theatre, Seattle Dance Project, and STG.
Spectrum is one of only two dance companies (PNB is the other) in the state that hires its dancers as employees. This relationship buys the time and commitment of exceptional dancers who are in the studio more than 30 hours a week. The performances they deliver have the depth of artistry that can only be achieved by working this intensely and the presence of the company in Seattle is a feather in the city's cultural cap.
It is a challenge for an organization of Spectrum's budget size to maintain personnel commitments of this magnitude, however it is the only way to sustain the artistic excellence of the organization.