Photo: Frank Huster


artistic director

Donald Byrd

From the moment you set foot in Seattle, you can feel it: art is everywhere.

The thriving arts scene is a priority in this city—in fact, Seattle has been recognized for having more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Americans for the Arts. Spectrum Dance Theatre Artistic Director and acclaimed choreographer Donald Byrd is one of the contributors to this creative city. Read on for a look at Seattle through his artistic lens.

Q&A with Donald Byrd

What brought you to Seattle?

I moved into my particular building because it’s across the street from Uptown Espresso. One of the real draws of Seattle for me was the quality of the coffee, I must say.

How does being a non-driver impact your view of the city?

My favorite part about walking is that you come across things that you would pass by if you were in a car. I live in Belltown, which has a particular kind of density where things are jammed up on top of each other. When you walk you go, “Oh, what is that?” And it’s a new gallery or a restaurant or a record shop. I love that about Seattle, being able to walk around and discover things. I love looking at buildings and wondering what they might be like to live in.

Where do you go to see work that isn’t mainstream?

I go to On the Boards. I tend to go mostly to the dance presentations there because they bring in dance people who I either know or am curious about, and it gives me an opportunity to see their latest work and get to know their work better. That’s always terrific.

Are there particular dancers you follow?

Cyrus Khambatta does the Seattle International Dance Festival that brings a combination of international artists together, with a focus on Seattle for one evening of the festival. That’s been really interesting. The formal performances take place mostly at Raisbeck Hall at Cornish College of the Arts and other pieces happen in the surrounding area, like on the South Lake Union transit cars, for example. In terms of individual artists, Zoe Scofield is of interest to me, as is Olivier Wevers. I also love Ezra Dickinson.

What else do you like to do in Seattle?

I think Seattle Art Museum is actually a little bit underrecognized. I like going there and just sitting in one gallery, or following the special exhibitions. The restaurant there, Taste, is a really good meeting place in the middle of the week because it’s not too loud there. That’s a well-kept secret.


Interview by Jess Van Nostrand, 2012.

Photo taken in Belltown.



Seattle Theatre Group with Donald Byrd



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