Donald Byrd (A’73), a celebrated choreographer and creative pioneer in world of modern dance, attended Tufts University and studied drama alongside other famous artists such as Peter Gallagher and William Hurt. Today, Byrd is the artistic director of Spectrum Dance Theater. He pens a blog about his “personal thoughts/considerations on dance, aesthetics, and art.”
In a recent post on his blog, Byrd mused:
My work has a kind of narrative impulse in it that I think can be traced back to my study of dramatic history, theory and literature at Tufts. This impulse seems an accurate way to describe the force that propels my choreographic works, giving them forward momentum, intent, as well as their structural logic. Maybe another way to say it is I ‘make story’. Everything is a story, at the micro and macro level of my dancemaking. Give me a collection of actions, activities, events, and people, actually, anything and I will relate them to each other as story. ‘Storying’ is one of my primary organizing principals. When I people watch, for example, I don’t just look at the people passing by in a passive way but I wonder what each person’s story is. I speculate about whom they are and generate little narratives about them in which they are the central character and what their relationship is to those walking with them or near them. It’s how I play.
In an interview with Tufts Magazine in 2003, Byrd spoke of his time on the hill:
For me, to complete the experience of really understanding dramatic theory, I had to actually do it. And I think that’s what happened at Tufts. Everything that I know now about the theater and about how to do things in the theater, I learned from being at Tufts. I haven’t really learned any more, I’ve just elaborated on it.