Duane Cyrus is the director of Theatre of Movement, a collaborative arts organization, and an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he teaches dance repertory, improvisation, technique, choreography, and arts entrepreneurship, among other courses. His teaching practice is focused on the development of future-mindset oriented professional artists for the 21st century. Duane Cyrus’s creative works investigate the dynamics and power structures inherent in the positioning of bodies in time and space. He works in live performance, film, and photography. Duane holds a BFA from the Juilliard School and an MFA from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In between, he danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, in musical theater (including the original London production of Disney’s The Lion King), on television, and in a variety of other venues nationally and internationally. He has worked as an independent artist and director of Cyrus Art Production LLC (2006-14) throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia as teacher, performer, and choreographer, and was also a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Illinois. Duane Cyrus consistently shares his knowledge and experience through his method for creating live performance called Theatre of Movement. He has developed curricula for community outreach, intensives and arts-in-education programs for New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Circuit Productions, Museum of the City of New York, Charlotte Ballet, Ailey Camp, and American Ballet Theater among others. Duane has received commissions and developed projects for American Dance Festival, Nannette Bearden, Martha Connerton, Noriko Hara Ballet, Masako Sakamura, and the Puffin Foundation. He has received grants from the Princess Grace Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council's Choreographer Fellowship, Arts Greensboro, and The Bossak Heilbron Foundation. He was selected as the 2009 University/College Educator of the Year by the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance and is a Coleman Entrepreneurship Fellow. He is the co-author (with Joanne Savio) and editor of the book Vital Grace––The Black Male Dancer, a photographic essay on male dancers of color including interviews with Gregory Hines, Bill T. Jones and Evander Holyfield published by Edition Stemmle. Cyrus and co-author Savio also published their work as a poster and calendar from Pomegranate titled Dancing a Dream. Duane regularly produces live performance and cultural events. Most recently, his seminar and moderated panel, Evening with the Creative Class, brings together artists and scholars to foster deeper understanding of the value of the arts to our society.
Duane Cyrus has performed as a soloist with Gallman’s Newark Dance Theater, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. He has toured the United States with the English National Theatre’s production of Carousel directed by Nicolas Hytner. He has also appeared internationally as a guest artist with Noriko Hara Ballet, Tokyo Ballet Group, and was a featured dancer in the original London production of Disney’s The Lion King directed by Julie Taymor at the Lyceum theatre on London’s West End.
Cyrus continues to develop as an engaged physical performer, currently working with choreographer Cynthia Oliver for Virago Man Dem described by Oliver as “explor(ing) the spoken and unspoken attitudes and expressions in Caribbean black masculinities, but which also appear in African American masculinities as they are performed by communities of men, staged on male bodies, but designed and interpreted by a woman…”
Duane Cyrus has worked as a choreographer in a variety of genres from concert dance to musical theatre and experimental projects. His work in drama and musical theatre productions includes: Blue Door, West Side Story, Dreamgirls, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Hairspray, Cabaret, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers. His work in concert dance spans a range of contemporary and modern styles where he seamlessly blends dance and theatre to create a new theory for performance titled Theatre of Movement. As a producer and director, Duane Cyrus develops interdisciplinary projects that are indicative of his own diverse experiences as a performer and choreographer––working successfully in live performance, film/photography, and events development. Duane Cyrus is an active collaborator, developing works with: Tony award winning director Trezana Beverley (Blue Door as choreographer and Salome as featured performer); former Martha Graham dancer and University of North Carolina at Charlotte assistant professor Kim Jones (TheCenterCannotHold); and Tony award nominee Karine Plantadit (Coco Tries New Things). He regularly produces high profile regional and national dance performances including The Vital Grace Project, Dance Gala: Greensboro and Stars of American Dance (co-produced with Greensboro Ballet and the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro). These events brought a roster of high level professionals to the area and featured choreography by Cyrus including his work for Ms. Plantadit and members of Cyrus Art Production.
Duane Cyrus was the grant writer and project director for the National Endowment for the Arts—American Masterpieces Grant that was awarded to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Dance Department in 2009. He has also received grants and commissions from Arts Greensboro, the North Carolina Arts Council, Greensboro Bicentennial Commission, Bricolage Arts Festival, Nannette Bearden, Noriko Hara Ballet, Masako Sakamura, and the Puffin Foundation. He is the recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Award for Emerging Artists, The Career Transition for Dancers Grant, The Bossak Heilbron Foundation Grant, The Astral Career Grant and was a 2012 Coleman Entrepreneurship Fellow and receives regular course development support from that organization.
As a teacher, Duane Cyrus has consistently shared his knowledge and experience through his involvement in community outreach and arts-in-education programs. He has developed outreach programs for young people from a wide range of backgrounds and ability. He regularly presents outreach programs in North Carolina and abroad through various initiatives including, Access to Art Academy, Theatre of Movement, and The Vital Grace Project. In 2013 Duane was invited by the American Dance Festival (ADF) to restage Martha Graham’s Helios from Acts of Light for ADF’s Forces of Dance performance at Durham Performing Arts Center. He has worked with Christine Witte in Bremen, Germany for her teen program titled Die Friedenskrieger (The Peace Warrior).
Cyrus’s students at the University of North Carolina were selected to perform at The Kennedy Center for American College Dance Association’s National Gala in 2016 and will perform Martha Graham’s Prelude to Action at the Joyce Theatre in New York City for that company’s University Performance Series in 2017.