Donald Byrd, Choreographer
Donald Byrd is a Tony-nominated (The Color Purple) and Bessie Award-winning (The Minstrel Show) choreographer. He has been the Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle since December 2002. Formerly, he was Artistic Director of Donald Byrd/The Group, a critically acclaimed contemporary dance company, founded in Los Angeles and later based in NewYork that toured both nationally and internationally. He has created dance works for many leading companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, and Dance Theater of Harlem, among others, and worked extensively in theater and opera.
His many awards, prizes, and fellowships include the Doris Duke Artist Award; Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Cornish College of the Arts; Masters of Choreography Award, The Kennedy Center; Fellow at The American Academy of Jerusalem; James Baldwin Fellow of United States Artists; Resident Fellow of The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center; Fellow at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, Harvard University; and the Mayor’s Arts Award for his sustained contributions to the City of Seattle. He was recently named a 2019 Doris Duke Artist Awardee.
Donald Byrd received the 2016 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award, which is funded by the Raynier Institute & Foundation through the Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium. The award supports and advances the creative work of outstanding artists living and working in Washington State and culminates in a presentation at the Frye Art Museum.
Emmanuel Witzthum, Composer
Emmanuel Witzthum is a musician, digital artist, and artistic director. He studied viola with Michael Tree of the Guarneri Quartet at the Manhattan School of Music and composition with dr. Nils Vigeland. He has performed as violist with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Berlin Staatskapelle, and Ensemble Intercontemporain, in Asia, the U.S., Europe, and Israel. He has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon under Pierre Boulez with Ensemble Intercontemporain.
As an electronic musician and curator, he has created artistic collaborations with a diverse set of global partners, including IRCAM (Paris), Google, Future en Seine Festival (Paris), Matadero (Madrid), Jewish Culture Festival (Krakow), Jewish Museum (Berlin), Magnes Museum (Berkeley), 104 (Paris), Jerusalem Season of Culture, and ZKM (Germany).
As a composer, he has worked at IRCAM and was guest composer of the DAAD Kuenstler Program in Berlin. Has released electro acoustic music on numerous labels in France, the UK, and Belgium.
He has also created numerous artistic digital platforms, such as mixthecity.com, mixthebody.britishcouncil.org (with Dance Company Wayne McGregor) and mixtheplay.britishcouncil.org (with The Old Vic). witzthum.org.
Doris Black, Costume Designer
Doris Black has been the costume designer for Donald Byrd at Spectrum Dance Theater since 2011. Other collaborations with Donald Byrd include Geography of the Cotton Fields for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and the upcoming Greenwood for Alvin Ailey American Dance. Doris designs costumes for many different production companies, including Seattle Shakespeare Company, The Seagull Project, Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Intiman, ArtsWest, theater simple, Freehold, Book-It, University of Puget Sound, and Youth Theatre Northwest. She is the company designer for the Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus. Her film credits include Cthulhu, The Dark Horse, and Police Beat. She received her MFA in Costume Design from the University of Washington.
Randall G. Chiarelli, Lighting and Scenic Designer
Randall G. Chiarelli has devoted a career to lighting for dance, much of it at PNB, and also for American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet, among other companies. His collaborators include choreographers Mark Dendy, Kent Stowell, Susan Stroman, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon. In addition to lighting for dance, Mr. Chiarelli has created scenic designs and concert designs for many productions and artists.
Nia-Amina Minor, Assistant to the Choreographer, is a movement artist and educator from South Central Los Angeles. She studied at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, received her BA from Stanford University, and holds an MFA in Dance from UC Irvine. Nia-Amina’s work is interdisciplinary, focusing on the body in social, political, and digital contexts. Through dance, she investigates black realities through the intersection of movement, memory, and rhythm. In 2014, Nia-Amina co-founded No)one Art House, an LA-based multi-disciplinary collective. She is currently in her fourth season with Spectrum Dance Theater as a Company Dancer and Community Engagement Artist Liaison.
Emily Pihlaja, Assistant to the Choreographer, is from New Canaan, Connecticut. She completed her training at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. After graduating Emily danced for four seasons with Oregon Ballet Theatre under the direction of Christopher Stowell. She is currently in Seattle, starting her sixth season dancing for Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theater.
Andrew Pontius, Assistant to the Choreographer, originally from Bremerton, Washington, started studying ballet at the age of 11 with Pacific Northwest Ballet School. He graduated from the Kirov Academy of Ballet in 2010 and began his professional career with Dresden SemperOper Ballet, where he spent two seasons, before moving to Madrid and the Victor Ullate Ballet. He is happy to be home dancing in the Pacific Northwest in his fifth season working with Donald Byrd at Spectrum Dance Theater.
Fausto Rivera, Assistant to the Choreographer, a Chicano dance artist from the Pacific Northwest, is a graduate of the University of Washington with a BA in Dance and a minor in Anthropology. He grew up training in Mexican Folk Dance and trained in ballet and modern dance in college. While at the UW, he danced with the Chamber Dance Company, under the direction of Hannah Wiley. Fausto is a founding member of Seattle’s Au Collective, which highlights the work of artists from marginalized communities. Fausto is in his sixth season at Spectrum Dance Theater as a Company Artist and in his second as a Community Engagement Artist Liaison.