Magazine article Dance Magazine

Donald Byrd Regroups. (News)

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Donald Byrd Regroups. (News)

Article excerpt

Donald Byrd seems relaxed and optimistic about his future even as he recovers from the ordeal of having to disband his modern dance troupe after twenty-four years. Faced with enormous financial debt incurred by the universally acclaimed but crushingly expensive 1996 production of The Harlem Nutcracker, he was forced to suspend operations of his company, Donald Byrd/The Group, last June.

One might think that giving up a company, in these tough economic times for the arts, would be a great load off his shoulders, especially since Byrd's choreographic talent is continuously in demand. European companies have commissioned his work, as well as U.S. companies in Dayton, Dallas, Portland, and Seattle, among others. In summer 2002 Pacific Northwest Ballet danced the premiere of his The Seven Deadly Sins. And currently he's making a piece for a children's company in Brooklyn. In the foreseeable future he'll set another, called Burlesque, for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

But Byrd says that a company is vital for his own choreographic development. "When you work with the same dancers every day, your work can grow and deepen." Working with ballet companies especially, he says, requires him to bring the dancers up to speed on his demanding personality and his stylistic idiosyncrasies.

"My own dancers understand about weight; they also understand my little movement quirks," Byrd says. "Ballet dancers don't usually have a sense of weight. …

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