Donald Byrd became Artistic Director of Seattle’s 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. He has created over 80 modern dance works for his own groups as well as the Alvin Ailey Company, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco), among others. He has choreographed for classical companies, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Aterballetto, MaggioDanza diFirenze, and Oregon Ballet Theater. He has worked with some of the most prestigious theater and opera companies in the U.S., including New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, the Intiman Theater, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera and New York City Opera.
His most recent works for Spectrum include a cycle of three evening-length works called Beyond Dance: Promoting Awareness and Mutual Understanding (PAMU), which featured World Premieres of A Chekhovian Resolution, created with Israeli choreographers Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dror; Farewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China; and most recently, The Mother of Us All, a complex meditation on contemporary Africa. Other productions for Spectrum include Interrupted Narratives/War and The Theater of Needless Talents, which toured nationally in 2009; The Sleeping Beauty Notebook, which toured to New York and the Spoleto Festival in Italy; Bhangra Fever, performed in PNB’s 2007 Celebrate Seattle Festival, and Petruchska/Miraculous Mandarin.
In 2010, among other productions in the resident season, the company appeared in New York in a new Donald Byrd interpretation of a John Zorn composition; part of the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Progress series.
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 Universityof 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. In 2006, he received a TONY nomination for his choreography for The Color Purple.
Donald has most recently been awarded a Mayor’s Arts Award for his sustained contributions to the City of Seattle; and has been selected among the first group of Fellows to the American Academy in Jerusalem.