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Saturday, March 11, 2017

(OUTview NW) RE-view: Spectrum Dance Theater's 'Rambunctious' series shines light on 'The Immigrants' !

(Jazzy Photo)
by MK Scott

Seattle's prestigious Spectrum Dance Theater lead by nationally-celebrated choreographer Donald Byrd addressed the current topic of 'Immigrants' last week in the third iteration of their 'Rambunctious' series.

The dances, all choreographed by Donald Byrd, are set to music composed by American classical composers who are Americans but not native born. The production focuses on immigrants coming from Mexico, the Middle East, Cuba and China, places that America has sometimes been at odds with or that are part of the current debate on immigration.

The music and costumes, as well as the movement, tell the story.

The informal evening had Byrd himself introducing the pieces and answering questions from the audience. The music was performed by a string quartet, piano, percussion and even a harmonica and a kazoo.

The first dance was called 'While He Was Away' and featured music composed by the Cuban-born Tania Leon. The costumes worn by twelve dancers were bright and colorful and it was refreshing to see some same-sex pairings.

In 'Paraphrase,' with music by the Mexican-born, Max Lifchitz, four dancers wore costumes of black and white.

'Roaming Ghosts,' with music by China-born Tan Dun, consisted of eight movements that included five solos, two duets, and ended with all eleven dancers. The men and women dancers wore costumes in the style of traditional Chinese robes.

The second act opened with 'Not From Here,' featuring music composed by Iranian-born Gity Razaz, with five dancers wearing skin-colored body suits.

The program closed with 'August 1, 1966,' with the music of 'String Quartet No. 4,' a piece composed by Russian-born Yevgeniy Sharlat. The work chronicles and reflects on that horrific day in 1966 when Charles Whitman shot 49 people from the University of Texas at Austin clock tower.

The composition 'August 1, 1966' was commissioned by Texas Performing Arts to accompany this work by choreographer Donald Byrd. The dance premiered at the University of Texas at Austin last November followed by its Seattle premiere last week.

To learn more about Spectrum Dance Theater, visit https://spectrumdance.org/

To learn more about the composers whose work accompanied Donald Byrd's dances in this program simply Google their names.

This review was also printed in the Seattle Gay News.

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