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Who doesn’t love a hometown hero?

June 29, 2011
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Who doesn’t love a hometown hero?  The Fellows of the first American Academy in Jerusalem prepare to set sail, and its great to see their home communities rooting for them.  This time, courtesy of Seattle, via Omar Willey @ Seattlest.

Photo courtesy of Spectrum Dance Theater

Donald Byrd is going to Jerusalem. The artistic director for Spectrum Dance Theater has been selected to join the Foundation for Jewish Culture’snew American Academy in Israel as part of a cultural exchange between American and Israeli scholars, artists, thinkers and students.

So what does he intend to do with his research opportunity? Create a new dance work based on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, of course.

No stranger either to politics (Farewell) or Jewish themes (The Theater of Needless Talents), Mr. Byrd has decided to return to the unfinished business left by his earlier dance work, A Chekhovian Resolution. Taking a phrase from renown Israeli writer Amos Oz, Mr. Byrd attempted in that piece to provide a model for collaboration and resolution through dance: a piece in which the artistic process would be the resolution.

But of course it didn’t turn out that way.

“For an array of reasons, excuses, justifications, motives, and agendas, in the end only Israeli and American artists were actively involved in the generative process,” says Mr. Byrd.

His new project will probe that failure more deeply.

“Painfully, I realized that the American led negotiations at resolution to the conflict between Israeli and Palestinians might be an on-going perpetual machine of failed attempts, a never-ending tale of disappointment and disillusionment – a true and real ‘Chekhovian Resolution.’”

Mr. Byrd’s mixture of dance and text-based imagery with narration in his previous work was a highly sensitive way to approach the intricate subject of conflict in the Middle East. That sensitivity and taste, among other reasons, also led to Mr. Byrd becoming one of the six winners of a 2011 Mayor’s Arts Award. His new fellowship will give even more people a chance to be impressed with the work of this fabulous choreographer.

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