In his glowing Seattle Times review, Michael Upchurch said that Spectrum's Carmina Burana tapped "the primal energy of the piece with a fierce, unornamented commitment". Although not qualified to be a dance critic, I certainly agree. In addition to the wonderful and diverse choreography, the piece showcased Donald Byrd's theatrical skills with a powerful blending of voice and drama as it told a compelling human story of descent and redemption.
Spectrum Dance Theater's ambitious Carmina was actually the second Spectrum performance we have seen this year. The first, Carousel, was a collaboration with the 5th Avenue Theater. Spectrum has an impressive record of such collaborations. In addition to Carousel and Carmina Burana (produced with Seattle Theater Group), it includes programs with the Moore Theater, Northwest Sinfonietta, Music of Remembrance, Seattle Men's Chorus, the Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Opera.
Founded in in 1992, Spectrum Dance Theater has been under Donald Byrd's visionary artistic leadership since 2002. Spectrum seeks to make dance broadly accessible through contemporary performances and high-quality dance training in many diverse styles. It has a professional company that has performed throughout the U.S. and in Europe, a dance school serving over 500 students of all ages, and community programs that include providing over 120 hours of dance education in local schools.
Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, set to 24 medieval poems, has been produced by many ballet companies, including Kent Stowell's spectacular version included in PNB's 2014-15 season. This was Donald Byrd's second Carmina, having staged it for the New York City Opera in 1997. I was first exposed to the music in the late 70's when our mom's student company presented a version choreographed for the company by Charles Bennett. (Like Mr. Byrd, Bennett was a dance professional who came to Seattle and generously shared his talents as he sought to make dance broadly accessible in our community.)
In addition to annual ArtsFund support, Spectrum raised funds for free and reduced student tickets to Carmina Burana through ArtsFund's Power2Give.