Spectrum Dance Theater

2020 Fall Virtual Season 

“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, Artistic Director, Spectrum Dance Theater

THE HARLEM NUTCRACKER

Available 12/14-12/31 | Tickets $20 for 3 day access

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.

Spectrum Dance Theater is reviving Donald Byrd’s The Harlem Nutcracker through three workshop presentations before the premiere of the full stage production in 2022. Workshop I premiered at On the Boards in December 2019, and Workshop II will be presented as a film in December 2020. Workshop II is a two-act piece that picks up where the 2019 production left off, Clara and her husband have just witnessed the exhilarating floorshow at Club Sweets and a new M.C. appears to introduce the second act, “Time Travel,” where Death manifests flashbacks of Clara’s early years and chronicles the Black struggle for justice and equality from the 1920s to the death of George Floyd. 

LYRIC SUITE

Available 1/1-1/31 | Tickets $20 for 3 day access

“Months into the Covid-19 pandemic, and the eruption of the protests after the murder of George Floyd, I sat in what seemed like a state of perpetual isolation, loneliness, and the fear and despair of not knowing how I would create work. Sometimes I would come to consciousness realizing I had been sitting, unmoving in the same spot and position on my couch for some ungodly amount of time. I feared moving. If I move, I think, I might completely fall apart, sobbing inconsolably or laughing hysterically or even both simultaneously. I would awake each day in dread. Not with anxiety associated with the virus but the dismay of the terrible repetition that each day brought and my not being able to connect to others. I am not a hugger but now I needed a hug. But even that is scary, not because of the contagion but that the embrace, like some kind of emotional Heimlich Maneuver, would cause me to cough up an endless amount of emotional sputum and stuck feelings that are choking me. But I would rather choke because I am afraid of losing control and the ensuing emotional carnage of that loss. My imagination runs amuck…

Lyric Suite is a dance film in 11 vignettes. Its central themes are isolation, fear, despair, and loneliness. The film presents us with 11 responses to – What does a person’s mind conjure up when they experience extended periods of little or no contact with other human beings? These 11 scenes are each an individual’s conjurings of their mind. They are each an example of the mind’s concoctions when a person is not only isolated, but the outside world seems to be falling apart from the affliction of a plague of Biblical proportions and a reckoning on the failures of unjust social systems. The mind makes sense the best it can.“

– Donald Byrd 

Photos courtesy of Marcia Davis