Featured News

April 14, 2014

Seven dance premieres coming up in exciting festival collaboration, May 15-24th

SEATTLE – We’re delighted to present Rambunctious: A Festival of American Composers and Dance, May 15-17th at Fremont Abbey Arts Center and May 22-24th at Washington Hall.

The festival will contain a total of seven new works by choreographer Donald Byrd, each set to a string quartet of an American composer and performed live by Seattle chamber music organization Simple Measures.

The first weekend features compositions from the early 20th century—including George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Vincent Persichetti– and the second weekend includes contemporary works from Charles Wuorinen, John Zorn, and a world premiere by Don Krishnaswami. Ives’ Scherzo will be featured as the festival overture at each performance.

Times & ticket prices: all performances are at 8:00pm, with the exception of a 1:00pm matinee on May 17. Tickets are $25, with discounts available for students and seniors.

Buy your tickets online here

We’re grateful to the Paul G. Allen Foundation, The Evelyn Sharp Foundation, and The Raisbeck Fund for Live Music for their support of this production.

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Press/Media Inquiries: click here to read the full festival press release.  For further information, images, interview requests and press tickets, please contact Katherine Flynn, Interim Marketing Manager, via marketing@spectrumdance.org or (206) 325-4161.

 

April 11, 2014

Weekly classes with Visiting Teacher in Residence Jimu Makurumbandi start April 14! 

SEATTLE – We’re excited to announce weekly classes in Zimbabwean dance starting Monday April 14, led by our Visiting Teacher in Residence Jimu Makurumbandi of Zimbabwe.

Suitable for people aged 12 years and upwards, no experience is necessary to take part, and participants will learn the finest in Zimbabwean dance from a performer and educator that has toured extensively across Europe.

Further information/Cost:  Participants are asked to wear comfortable clothes they can move in. There is a $16 drop in fee, and 10% discount for multiple classes. The first class on April 14 is $8.

About Jimu:  A Marimba player and Shona traditional dancer, Makurumbandi’s professional career started with a grassroots theatre company called Savanna Arts in Mbare. At 19, Makurumbandi joined Dance Foundation Course, a project created by National Ballet of Zimbabwe. During a one-year apprenticeship with Tumbuka Dance Company, Makurumbandi’s dance training continued under Soukaina Edom Mafundikwa, Julie Knotenbelt and Neville Campbell. Makurumbandi has toured extensively in France and has been performing and holding workshops on Zimbabwean traditional dance and music across Europe.

In addition to master classes and intensives this summer, Makurumbandi will be teaching a weekly Zimbabwean dance class in our studios on Sundays from 12-1:30pm.

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For more information, view the promotional flyer here or contact our Studio on (206) 325-4161. 

 

March 18, 2014

Spectrum Dance Theater welcomes Zimbabwean artist Jimu Makurumbandi

SEATTLE – Spectrum Dance Theater welcomes Jimu Makurumbandi of Zimbabwe, who will be a visiting teacher in residence for one year starting April 6, 2014.

A Marimba player and a Shona traditional dancer, Makurumbandi’s professional career started with a grassroots theatre company called Savanna Arts in Mbare. At 19, Makurumbandi joined Dance Foundation Course, a project created by National Ballet of Zimbabwe. During a one-year apprenticeship with Tumbuka Dance Company, Markurumbandi’s dance training continued under Soukaina Edom Mafundikwa, Julie Knotenbelt and Neville Campbell. Makurumbandi has toured extensively in France and has been performing and holding workshops on Zimbabwean traditional dance and music across Europe.

In addition to master classes and intensives this summer, Makurumbandi will be teaching a weekly Zimbabwean dance class Sundays from 12-1:30pm at Spectrum Dance Theater’s studio, beginning in April.

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For more information please contact Katherine Spink, Interim Marketing Manager, via email at marketing@spectrumdance.org or by calling the Studio on (206) 325-4161. Additional information, including videos, images and updates, can be found at www.spectrumdance.org or at Facebook.com/SpectrumDance.

 

February 6, 2014

Why Minstrelsy in 2014?

A letter from Artistic Director Donald Byrd

Dear friends,

I wanted to send a note in response to some of the curiosity, excitement and anger that
The Minstrel Show Revisited’s marketing materials have stirred up over these past two weeks.

Some have asked: Is the use of this imagery still relevant?  Why am I still making use of it, and how does it “read” differently now?  Well, if you followed the Miley Cyrus coverage (outrage) around her performance at the MTV Music Video Awards, you’ll see a) how the legacy of minstrelsy is still very much in play today and b) how easily polarized we become around issues of race, representation, and appropriation.

The residual impact of minstrel shows on 21st Century America is profound–not only as part of our theatrical history and traditions but also our society in general.

Race in America is complex and thorny, and any conversation about it requires equally complex responses. The Minstrel Show Revisited asks the viewer to consider race in a more nuanced way, as opposed to simply naming something “racist.” For example, we can marvel at the skill of the performer but be horrified at the image. Should we applaud or boo? A complicated and contradictory response is an appropriate one.

But, making that point is not why I wanted to ‘revisit’ the piece.  During the George Zimmerman trial, I was deeply affected by how reactionary the dialogue about race had become.  I saw how the emotions on both sides often cut off any meaningful dialogue. I began to wonder: what would Seattle do with the opportunity to face those deep emotions head on?

I’m looking forward to some spirited talkbacks after the performances. In the meantime, an online conversation has started at #minstrelrevisited, and I hope you’ll share your thoughts.

Donald Byrd
Artistic Director

 

January 14, 2014

Spectrum Dance Theater presents The Minstrel Show Revisited, February 20-22, 2014

SEATTLE – Spectrum Dance Theater (SDT) presents The Minstrel Show Revisited, a return to Choreographer and Artistic Director Donald Byrd’s 1991 Bessie Award-winning work, February 20-22, 2014 at The Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. This production is part of SDT’s 2013-2014 season entitled “America: Sex, Race, and Religion” in which Byrd responds to these three quintessential preoccupations of the American psyche.

The Minstrel Show, originally performed in 1991, is Donald Byrd’s satirical look at the often-derogatory song-and-dance tradition of minstrelsy. Byrd, in a January 1992 Los Angeles Times interview, said that his “motivation is not to authentically or historically recreate minstrel shows, but to make something that has a feeling of minstrel shows and is structured somewhat like them with more contemporary sensibility.”

The Minstrel Show Revisited is not a strict revival of 1991’s show, but rather a re-contextualizing of it. By culling elements from the original production combined with structural details from authentic 19th Century minstrel shows and weaving them together with contemporary references, including the Trayvon Martin slaying and the George Zimmerman acquittal, it creates a modern tapestry that underscores the lingering scars of racial, religious, and sexual bigotry in America. With traditional and popular music from the period by Scott Joplin and Stephen Foster, The Minstrel Show Revisited will also include original music by Mio Morales.

Performances will take place at The Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center on February 20-22 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets begin at $25, with discounts available for students and seniors, and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com. Discounted group tickets are also available during the month of January.

Spectrum is grateful for corporate sponsorship from The Boeing Company and media sponsorship from KUOW. Additional photos are available upon request.

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For more information, please contact Rebecca Pirwitz, Marketing and Communications Manager, at rebecca@spectrumdance.org or at (206) 325-4161. Additional information, including videos, images, and updates, can be found at www.spectrumdance.org or at Facebook.com/SpectrumDance.