Spectrum Dance Theater presents THE THEATER OF NEEDLESS TALENTS

A performance by Spectrum Dance Theater.

Thu, October 11, 2012 | Bass Concert Hall

8:00 PM

“Creativity in the Face of Death: The Contemporary Resonance of Terezín,” a three-day symposium, will explore the enduring influence of music and art created by prisoners at Terezín (Theresienstadt), the “model ghetto” near Prague designed by the Nazis as a sham showcase to mask their murderous campaign against Europe’s Jews. The inmates, mostly Jews from Germany and Czechoslovakia and among them many notable artists, writers, composers, and musicians, acted out their parts for unsuspecting visitors even as, in the shadow of death, they raised the spirits of their fellow prisoners. Only 12 percent of the 140,000 Jews originally sent to Terezín survived. Virtually all of the members of the artistic community perished in the death camps or at Terezín itself.

Their heroic example has served as a haunting challenge for later artists to create what Kafka declared books must be—“an axe for the sea frozen inside us.” “Creativity in the Face of Death” will bring together world-class musicians, choreographers, photographers, and scholars whose work has been touched by the legacy of Terezín.


Spectrum Dance Theater’s The Theater of Needless Talents, an evening-long work choreographed by Donald Byrd, pays homage to the Jewish artists who, though imprisoned in Nazi death camps, managed to create, perform, and bring hope to themselves and fellow inmates. The work is a series of powerful and eloquent sequences comprising modern dance, theatrical vignettes, cabaret, and commentary drawn from the words of artists and others of the time. These searing and evocative segments resonate with the horror and the absurdity of the situation in which these artists found themselves. The dance is set to the music of composer and death camp victim Erwin Schulhoff. The Theater of Needless Talents strives to make connections between the Holocaust and present-day sufferings brought on by prejudice, oppression, and persecution.

The performance will be followed by a talkback with the artists in Bass Concert Hall.

This presentation of Spectrum Dance Theater was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Click here to return to the Terezín event listings.

Click here to visit the official Terezín splash page at Texas Performing Arts.

Sponsored by: Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies and Texas Performing Arts.

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