Duane Cyrus is the Artistic Director of Cyrus Art Production LLC and an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina—Greensboro, Duane Cyrus holds an MFA from the University of Illinois where he was a Dewson Fellow and a BFA from the Juilliard School, which he attended on scholarship from the Aaron Diamond Foundation. Mr. Cyrus has traveled around the world as a director, choreographer, performer, and teacher. He is also the author and editor of the book Vital Grace, a photographic essay on male dancers of color including interviews with Gregory Hines, Bill T. Jones and Evander Holyfield published by Edition Stemmle. This work has also been published as a poster and 1999 calendar by Pomegranate entitled Dancing a Dream. As an independent artist Cyrus directs, teaches and choreographs extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia. He has also produced and performed in his own solo and group concerts (The Vital Grace Project, (Stars of American Dance, (The Black Male and Dancing a Dream) performing at Carolina Theatre, the Studio Moliere (Vienna), E-Werk (Frieberg), Aster Plaza (Hiroshima), and Carl Orff Saal (Munich) among others cities.
Duane Cyrus has worked as a choreographer in a variety of genres from concert dance to musical theatre and experimental projects. His work in concert dance spans a range of contemporary and modern styles where he seamlessly blends dance and theatre through his theory for developing performance work titled Accessing the Theatre of Movement, a creative process that explores theatrical presence and physical commitment in performance for actors and dancers. His work in musical theatre includes regional theatre productions of Dreamgirls, Ain’t Misbehavin, Hairspray, Cabaret, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers.
Duane Cyrus began his dance training with mentor Alfred Gallman as a student at the Bronx High School of Science. Cyrus eventually became a principal dancer with Gallman’s Newark Dance Theater (GNDT) where he danced leading roles in works by Alfred Gallman including: Precious Memories and Another Place in Time. He originated leading roles in Civilized Evil, Let the Trumpet Sound, and Crossing the Lines by Gallman and Rat’s Alley by Talley Beatty. Cyrus also performed as a soloist in Talley Beatty’s Road of the Phoebe Snow for American Dance Festival and Elisa Monte’s Treading for GNDT’s tenth year anniversary.
Upon graduation from the Juilliard School, Duane Cyrus was personally invited by Alvin Ailey to join the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989. As one of the last members hired by Mr. Ailey before his death, Cyrus danced in Ailey’s Revelations, Streams, Night Creature, Masekela Langage, Landscape, Memoria, and Blues Suite. Cyrus also danced several of Katherine Dunham’s reconstructed works in The Magic of Katherine Dunham. Other works include: Come and Get the Beauty of It Hot and The Stack Up by Talley Beatty; Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder by Donald McKayle; Suite Otis by George Faison; Episodes by Ulysses Dove; and Shards by Donald Byrd. With the Ailey Company Cyrus performed in venues throughout the United States, Europe and Asia including City Center (New York), Teatro Petruzzelli (Bari, Italy), the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC) and The Kalang Center (Singapore)
In 1990 Duane Cyrus joined the Martha Graham Dance Company. As with Ailey, he was one of the last dancers personally hired by the founding director. Cyrus danced many of Graham’s works including The Rite of Spring, Acts of Light, and Temptations of the Moon. He has danced soloist roles in Maple Leaf Rag, Clytemnestra (Apollo), Circe (the Serpent), Diversion of Angels (Red Couple), Eyes of the Goddess, and Embattled Garden (the Stranger.) Duane Cyrus was awarded the Princess Grace Foundation Emerging Artist Award in 1992 for his performance in Embattled Garden. He has performed in theaters around the world with the Graham Company, including the Paris Opera House, Teatro Bellas Artes (Mexico City), and ancient amphitheaters in Siracusa, Naples, and Agrigento (Italy.)
Duane Cyrus was personally invited by Judith Jamison to re-join the Ailey Company in 1993. He returned and continued to dance Ailey’s repertoire as well as the works of other important choreographers, including Hymn, and Riverside by Jamison; New York Export Opus Jazz by Jerome Robbins; and The Winter in Lisbon by Billy Wilson. Cyrus also danced lead roles in Ailey’s Revelations (Daniel, Fix Me, Sinner Man), Memoria, and The River (Lake, Meander, Falls), Louis Johnson’s Fontessa and Friends (Strongman), and John Butler’s Carmina Burana.
Duane Cyrus has also toured the United States with the English National Theatre’s award winning production of Carousel directed by Nicolas Hytner and was a featured dancer in the original London production of Disney's The Lion King directed by Julie Taymor. He has appeared as a guest artist with Wylliams/Henry Dance Theater (Kansas City, MO), Tokyo Ballet Group, Noriko Hara Ballet, and Masako Sakamura. Duane Cyrus’ solo dance and group performances have been performed in New York, Hiroshima, Yokohama, Vienna, Zurich, Munich, Freiburg and Hamburg. Cyrus’ dance theater works utilize all aspects of the performer’s skill and reflect a dedication to exciting, interdisciplinary theatrical experiences with works such as Waking the Witch – a collaboration with Brooklyn based writer Nigel Barton and actress Gail Jones that is inspired by Maryse Conde’s I, Tituba: The Black Witch of Salem.
Duane Cyrus appeared as a guest host for MetroArts Thirteen’s television program Free to Dance and I'll Make Me a World. He also originated the role of Naaman/Death in Matt DiCintio's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Salome directed by Tony award winner Trazana Beverley and choreographed by Sandra Burton for Playmakers Repertory Company. Cyrus also performed as a guest for the William Warfield Memorial with soloists Ollie Watts Davis and Barrington Coleman at Foellinger Great Hall (Urbana.)
As a teacher, Duane Cyrus has consistently shared his knowledge and experience through his involvement in community outreach and arts-in-education programs. He is the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s 2009 Educator of the Year. Duane Cyrus has taught dance residencies and intensives for, Charlotte Ballet, NC School of the Arts, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, American Ballet Theater, Ailey Camp, and the Joffrey/New School BFA program. He has developed outreach programs for young people from a wide range of backgrounds and ability. He currently presents regular outreach programs in North Carolina through various initiatives including, Access to Art Academy 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.
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, 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 Foundation Entrepreneurship Fellow. In 2013 he re-staged Martha Graham's Helios from Acts of Light for American Dance Festival.