A WORD FROM DONALD BYRD
“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.” – Rebecca Solnit
The Proposed Season has come about as a result of embracing the unknown, the uncertainty of this moment in history. My hope (and I do have hope) insists that we take actions – not fret – and see, if only for a moment, in a flash, that we might be able to influence outcomes.
The outcome that The Company of Spectrum Dance Theater hopes for is to reengage with its constituents and create opportunities for communal experiences through contemporary dance that challenges expectations and calls forth strong emotions, deep feelings, and thoughtful responses. Exactly what that looks like we are not certain; but what we are certain of is that it will not look like the past.
And that has to be and is okay with me.
– Donald Byrd
RACE, SOCIAL JUSTICE, AND THE CLIMATE CRISIS
Lyric Suite (a film) is a Kafkaesque dance work that explores the mental and emotional effects and impact of extended isolation on 12 individuals told in 11 vignettes. It is about loneliness. It is a psychological, interior world of the mind – fearful, delusional, and at times paranoid; a reality that is distorted and personal.
Lyric Suite is 12 solos, one for each for the 12 dancers that make up the Company.
The Harlem Nutcracker
We pick the story up where we left off at the end of Workshop 1. Clara and her husband have just witnessed the exhilarating floorshow at Club Sweets and a new M.C. appears to introduce one final act.
The Harlem Nutcracker, created by Donald Byrd for Donald Byrd/The Group, premiered in December 1996 at Arizona State University in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Grammage Memorial Auditorium. It made its NYC premiere later that year at the BAM Opera House. Touring extensively each holiday season from 1996-2002, it gained national recognition, received critical acclaim, and was dubbed as an “instant classic”.
Using Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s “Nutcracker Suite” as a starting off point, arranger/composer/conductor, David Berger, completed the production’s score creating an evening-length composition for Byrd to create his reimagining of the classic tale. The story centers around an African American family in Harlem at Christmas, highlights the unique centrality of the grandmother in African-American culture, the resilience of Black American families, and Harlem as a center of the African Diaspora.
When Spectrum decided to revive The Harlem Nutcracker our strategy was to bring the work back through 3 workshop presentations before the premiere of the revival in 2022. Last year, 2019, was the first workshop. Given the current circumstances, we will not be able to do a live presentation of the workshop as we did at On the Boards in December of 2019. This year we will present Workshop 2 as a film. We pick the story up where we left off Clara and her husband have just witnessed the exhilarating floorshow at Club Sweets and a new M.C. appears to introduce one final act.
Given the events of 2020 (the global pandemic & subsequent public health & safety efforts, the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed demanding racial justice and police reform, the ongoing fight against climate change, and the upcoming 2020 presidential election), this continued exploration from Spectrum’s 2019/20 season is especially pertinent as the entire world continues to adjust and adapt to a “new normal.”
“The notion of theater as being an in-person experience may not be true as we move forward. What I’m talking about is not a substitution for how things used to be but rather something new.” – Donald Byrd
Throughout the 2020/21 Season, Donald Byrd and Company will again address the question, “How might life be lived in the near future, after humans have adapted?” Byrd’s artistic vision and planning for this season are inspired by an array of ideas, people, schools of thought, and research, including but not limited to: Forensic Architecture, The Flooded London series by Squint/Opera, Bjarke Ingles, think tanks, Elon Musk, research institutes, Archigram, and fictional architecture.
“Imagining Futures – Race, Social Justice, and the Climate Crisis” will include four productions – two virtual productions in fall 2020 and two live productions slated for spring 2021. The 2020/21 season will adapt to new platforms and modes of creation, new means of production and presentation, as well as new technological and creative collaborations.
The Race & Climate Change Festival
Spectrum’s Race & Climate Change Festival is the culmination of a two-year-long exploration of speculations on the future, post-climate disaster, and how climate change will disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minorities in the United States.
This month-long virtual Festival will unfold across multiple dimensions at the intersection of Science, Race, Afro-Futurism, Imagination, Speculation, Sci-Fi, Social Sciences, and Philosophy.
The Festival experience invites visitors to explore and imagine future communities, called shucks, coping with the long-term impacts of climate change on the physical world and humanity. This glimpse into the future showcases the stories of surviving humans, how they have adapted to the new reality, and their interpretation of the impact and events of pre-climate disaster.
Highlights of the Festival include the world premiere of the dance film POOL/After, directed by Egan Kolb & Donald Byrd; audio and video recordings of stories from the shucks; and live panels & presentations, and interactive exercises.