Dance: Spectrum Dance Theater

Friday, April 25

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Donald Byrd is a vital force in modern dance, and he's generally regarded as one of its most important choreographers. He founded his own dance company in 1978, Donald Byrd/The Group, and eventually moved himself and his group to NYC, where they enjoyed nearly two decades of success and international recognition as the result of Byrd's unique, ever-evolving creative vision. He's produced more than 80 works over his 30-year career, fusing classical and contemporary influences and exploring Indian and African dance forms, addressing social issues, and encouraging a new way of interpretation; in the program notes for his collaborative work with three very different jazz musicians, JazzTrain, he wrote that the audience "should be able to hear the music differently because of the choreography." At present, Byrd serves as Artistic Director for Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater. This Friday night, the company debuts a new Byrd work, For Ruth, commissioned by Ruth Eckerd Hall for its 25th anniversary and choreographed to "Suite for Ruth," a Dave Koz and David Benoit jazz number composed for a previous hall anniversary. Benoit and the Clearwater Jazz Holiday/REH Jazz Band play it live during Spectrum's performance. The program also includes several other modern pieces. Fri., April 25, 8 p.m., 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, $25-$40, 727-791-7400,

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