Thank you for publishing Leyna Krow’s thoughtful article, “Political movement: Spectrum Dance Theater Takes on the Holocaust and other humanitarian crises,” (Feb. 22). As Krow discusses, “The Theater of Needless Talents,” — Spectrum’s world premiere — deals with powerful issues relating to the Holocaust and other instances of worldwide genocide. She well articulates Spectrum’s new vision, shaped and designed by artistic director Donald Byrd: to develop and present dance theater pieces that catalyze civic discourse on critically important human rights, social justice and other humanitarian topics. Ultimately, we hope this three-year initiative will inspire greater individual and community involvement, and perhaps lead us closer to personal and societal transformation. We have a large vision at Spectrum regarding the role of cultural expression within society, and we appreciate your efforts to inform Seattle’s Jewish community of our endeavors.
It is also important to note that there are errors in Krow’s piece which warrant correction. “The Theater of Needless Talents,” was the name that Jewish Czech theater artist Karel Schwenk (not Erwin Schulhoff, as Krow attributes) gave to the performance group he established in Prague during the 1930s. And it was the versatile Schwenk, not Schulhoff, who earned the title of “the Jewish Charlie Chaplin.” Erwin Schulhoff, the brilliant Czech Jewish composer, created the music that inspired Byrd’s choreography, which will be played by the Northwest Sinfonietta Trio at each Spectrum performance of “The Theater of Needless Talents.” Finally, Schulhoff died at the Wulzburg Camp in 1942, not in Terezìn, as Krow reports. Schwenk was interned in Terezìn, but eventually was deported and murdered in Auschwitz in 1944.