Spectrum Dance Theater’s Artistic Director Donald Byrd will be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts at Cornish’s upcoming Commencement ceremony at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle on May 13, 7:30 p.m. In the announcement made earlier last week, Cornish College articulated Byrd’s growing list accomplishments and honors in advising his nomination:
Byrd, a TONY nominated (The Color Purple) and Bessie Award winning (The Minstrel Show) choreographer, became the artistic director of Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theater in 2002. His many awards and honors include a Masters of Choreography Award from The Kennedy Center; a Fellowship at The American Academy of Jerusalem; a James Baldwin Fellow of United States Artists; and the Mayor’s Arts Award for his sustained contributions to the City of Seattle. In recent years, his explorations of race and other socially relevant themes have shown that dance, and all the arts, are a powerful and important way to examine these issues.
“I am honored to be amongst such distinguished artists and changemakers,” states Byrd. “This honor is especially gratifying and meaningful because Cornish is an important members of the Seattle’s artistic ecology, a community that is my community.” Mr. Byrd joins a distinguished roster of artists before him who have received this honor, including; Meredith Monk (2002), Merce Cunningham (2005), Peter Sellars (2008), Mark Morris (2011), Christopher O’Riley (2012), Kronos Quartet (2013), Tony Kushner (2014), and Ann Bogart (2015).
About Donald Byrd
Donald Byrd, TONY nominated/Bessie Award winner, is the Executive Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater (since 2002), formerly Artistic Director of Donald Byrd/The Group. He is credited with over 100 dance works for his own groups plus Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dayton Contemporary, and Philadanco, among others; classical companies include Pacific Northwest Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Dance Theater of Harlem.
He has worked with The New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, SF Opera, Seattle Opera and NYC Opera. Honors include Masters of Choreography Award (Kennedy Center), Fellow of The American Academy of Jerusalem, James Baldwin Fellow of US Artists, and Fellow at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. He has been a panelist for the NEA, The Princess Grace Awards, and has served as Cultural Envoy for The US Dept. of State. He currently serves on the SDC Diversity Task Force and the SDC Journal Editorial Board, and recently completed his term on the Tony nominating committee.
About Spectrum Dance Theater
Under Donald Byrd’s artistic leadership since 2002, Spectrum Dance Theater has become the foremost contemporary modern dance organization in the Pacific Northwest, gaining recognition nationally and abroad. For over thirty years, Spectrum Dance Theater has brought dance of the highest merit to a diverse community working to make dance accessible to all through contemporary dance performances and high quality dance training in a variety of dance styles. Three components comprise the organization: the professional Company, the School and Outreach programs. With Donald Byrd’s visionary artistic leadership, the organization has embarked on an exhilarating transformation that has attracted world class dancers, produced some of the most avant-garde works in contemporary dance, and generated local and national praise. www.spectrumdance.org