Donald Byrd

September 18, 2017


As soon as I arrived in Seattle, my friend Miles told me I needed to meet a man named Donald. Miles didn’t say much about him except that he is the director of Spectrum Dance Company. Nevertheless, I arranged to meet up with Donald for a lovely American breakfast. We discussed the development of art in the United States, and the way his personal experiences as a choreographer led him to where he is today. After breakfast, he invited me to watch a rehearsal at the studios of Spectrum Dance Company, where he has been artistic director for the past 15 years. The company’s Lake Washington location provides a tranquil atmosphere which fosters creativity. After watching rehearsal for a couple of hours, I was able to see the idea behind his work, but honestly didn’t know what to expect. It doesn’t shy away from social justice or other touchy subjects, he has political point to make with his work. He is the sort of director who knows exactly who he wants to work with. His wisdom and artistic guidance explain his dancers’ enthusiasm for his work. In addition to his directorship, he will soon be traveling to Ghana to work with Translucent Borders, an organization which uses music and dance to foster intercultural dialogue at geographic, cultural, and economic borders. But what was particularly beautiful about our interaction was that I didn’t feel there was any ego behind him. He took the time from his busy work schedule to come and talk with me. Directors don’t normally do that, especially for someone they don’t know, and this explains everything you need to know about him.


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