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Full Spectrum of Dance Revealed this Weekend

Emily LeStrange | Friday, February 27, 2009

This weekend, the renowned Spectrum Dance Theater will perform “The Theater of Needless Talents,” a dance piece inspired by the Jewish artists who managed find to some light during the dark times of the Holocaust.

Since their founding in 1982, the Spectrum Dance Theater (SDT) has been a pioneer in popularizing contemporary dance, as well as a leader in dance instruction by encouraging the precision and growth in quality of many other forms of dance. The dance group hails from Seattle, Wash., yet they have recently spent much time touring the U.S. and Europe.

Over 500 students participate in one or more of the 64 classes offered to people of all ages, under the direction of professional SDT members. In fact, the youngest member of the SDT is one year old, while the oldest is 80 years old. On average, 40 students are given some form of scholarships to attend the Spectrum Dance Company School.

By way of dance, the SDT has given back to their local Seattle community in numerous ways. The STD provides over 120 hours of dance education to local schools in the Seattle metropolitan area. The Theater has embraced its Washington roots by teaming up with local arts organizations. In 2007, the group collaborated with local Seattle venues, such as the 5th Avenue Theater and Seattle Opera.

Supported by the Performing Arts Fund, the SDT is an avid supporter of the right for all children to have fair access to perform, learn about and appreciate all forms of art. The Fund works in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent agency that strongly believes that believes, “A great nation deserves great art.”

Since in role in the SDT since 2002, Donald Byrd has led the dance group to immense success. In 2006, the SDT premiered the first of its Studio Series at the Madrona Dance Studios in Seattle. Byrd has also been an invaluable component in transforming the dance repertoire of the SDT; the ingeniousness of the avant-garde dance pieces under his direction has attracted the attention of numerous world-class dancers, both at home and overseas.

The group is currently on a four month-long tour across the United States. Collegiate stops along the way include Duke University, The University of Virginia and Notre Dame.

The Theater of Needless Talents is a dance act in memory of Jewish artists who, while prisoners in Nazi death camps, sought to give hope to those with little spirits during the Holocaust. Through their respective arts, these brave men and women managed to give optimism and strength to those who were surrounded by pain, misery, and suffering. Since the event was first showcased in February 2008, the SDT has received immense praise from critics and audience members alike for their emotional presentation.

The program is composed of dance numbers and theatrical vignettes performed in combination with the music of Erwin Schullhoff, an exceptional Jewish composer who lost his life during the Holocaust. The title of the program in honor of Karel Svenk; in the 1930’s, his perform troupe was known as “The Theater of Needless Talents.” Svenk lost his life in 1945 while in one of the many movements of the Jewish prisoners from Auschwitz to Mauthausen.

Beginning Thursday night, the Spectrum Dance Theater offers four performances running through Saturday night. For show times, pricing, and more information, please visit performingarts.nd.edu