Broke

The audience experiences the violence of 90’s New York and the AIDS epidemic through the eyes of Maggie, a young paramedic dealing with things she never thought she would see. The opera culminates in her experience on 9/11.

Andy Teirstein, Composer

Maggie Dubris, Librettist

Donald Byrd, Choreographer

He has composed film scores for BBC and PBS, the operas Winter Man and A Blessing on the Moon (in progress), and Vagabonds, a dance theater piece inspired by William Blake. As a musician, he has appeared with Paul Simon, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and The Vanaver Caravan.

Maggie Dubris is a writer and sound artist based in New York City. She worked for 25 years as a 911 paramedic in the Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen area, and much of her work draws on that experience. Maggie is the author of BrokeDown Palace, In The Dust Zone (with artist Scott Gillis), Skels, Weep Not, My Wanton, and WillieWorld.

Donald Byrd has been the Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater since December 2002. Formerly, he was Artistic Director of Donald Byrd/The Group, a critically acclaimed contemporary dance company, founded in Los Angeles and later based in New York, that toured both nationally and internationally.

broke The Proposal

Curator discussion

with Jonathan Khuner, Mark Streshinsky & Leigh Rondon-Davis

broke  Music Samples

Broke Scene One Excerpt

Artist Interviews: Broke

Broke Scene Two Excerpt

InFocus Issue 10

Broke

Get to know them: First Opera Stories

previous work samples

librettist maggie dubris introduces "The Dream"

composer andy teirstein introduces

"How they broke away"

Composer andy teirstein introduces excerpts from "A Blessing on the moon"

"The Dream"

"How they broke away"

excerpts from "A Blessing on the moon"

andy teirstein Bio:

Andy Teirstein writes music inspired by the rich and diverse folk roots of modern culture. A student of Leonard Bernstein and Henry Brant, Teirstein composes for the concert hall, film, theater, and dance. His CD, Open Crossings, draws on Balkan and Appalachian influences. The Village Voice wrote that his music “seems to speak in celestial accents of some utopia whose chief industry is dancing,” and he composes often for dance companies, including Donald Byrd, Stephen Petronio, Liz Lerman and others. 

He has composed film scores for BBC and PBS, the operas Winter Man and A Blessing on the Moon (in progress), and Vagabonds, a dance theater piece inspired by William Blake. As a musician, he has appeared with Paul Simon, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and The Vanaver Caravan. As an actor, he has performed in the hit Broadway show, Barnum, the TV series Search for Tomorrow, the film Sophie’s Choice, and Woody Sez, which has toured Poland, Israel, Palestine, Germany, China and other countries. 

His composition work has been described by The New York Times as “ingenious,” and “superbly crafted.” Andy received a Ph.D from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2010, with his dissertation, Theater Without Words: Music for Movement Theater by Bartók and Milhaud. He has expanded his musical background by learning fiddle tunes in Ireland, performing as a musical clown with a Mexican circus, and journeying to Romania and Bulgaria to collect traditional music. 

He is currently an Arts Professor at New York University, and director of the NYU Global Institute, Translucent Borders, which looks at the role of dance and music at borders. As part of this project, he initiated collaborations with dancers and musicians in Ghana, Israel/Palestine, Cuba and Greece, produced conferences in Abu Dhabi and New York, directed residencies at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival and the Hudson Valley Festival of the Arts, and facilitated performances at Lincoln Center and NYU’s Jack Crystal Theater. Teirstein has received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the ASCAP Foundation, and others. He is also been a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, the LABA Institute and the American Lyric Theater.

maggie dubris Bio:

Maggie Dubris is a writer and sound artist based in New York City. She worked for 25 years as a 911 paramedic in the Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen area, and much of her work draws on that experience. She has also worked as a professional hypnotist and a martial arts health care specialist for Kids Kicking Cancer, and is currently employed as a paramedic on film and TV sets. 

Maggie is the author of BrokeDown Palace (Subpress 2019), In The Dust Zone (with artist Scott Gillis), Skels, Weep Not, My Wanton, and WillieWorld. Her work has been featured in David Gordon’s America and Mabou Mines’ Song For New York, and she has published in numerous literary magazines. She is currently working on an opera, Broke, based on the book BrokeDown Palace, with composer Andy Teirstein. 

Donald Byrd Bio:

Donald Byrd has been the Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater since December 2002. Formerly, he was Artistic Director of Donald Byrd/The Group, a critically acclaimed contemporary dance company, founded in Los Angeles and later based in New York, that toured both nationally and internationally. His career has been long and complex, and his choreographic and theatrical interests are broad. The New York Times describes him as “a choreographer with multiple personalities … an unabashed eclectic.” He is a Tony-nominated (The Color Purple) and Bessie Award-winning (The Minstrel Show) choreographer.


Mr. Byrd has frequently been referred to as a ‘citizen artist,’ a descriptive that perfectly aligns with an important component of Spectrum Dance Theater’s mission and Mr. Byrd’s personal beliefs – “dance as an art form and as a social/ civic instrument.”


Early projects that were the beginnings of his citizen artist work at Spectrum are Interrupted Narratives/WAR (2007), a critique on the War in Iraq, and The Theater of Needless Talents (2008), a memorial to the artist victims of the Holocaust. Mr. Byrd’s early repertoire also includes three evening-length works that sought, through dance, to stimulate dialogue around a post-9/11, globalized America: A Chekhovian Resolution (2008), a personal, diary-like reflection on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; Farewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China (2008), inspired by the novel Beijing Coma from Ma Jian and the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square; and The Mother of Us Al (2010)l a dense, collage-like abstract meditation on contemporary Africa.


He continues to demonstrate this by creating dance/theater that is meant to question, to create awareness, to activate, and to move audiences & citizens into action around the persistent social issues that plague contemporary American society and the world: racism and white supremacy, climate change and the climate gap, gender equality, gender identity biases, xenophobia, and police brutality. 


Throughout the 40+ years of his choreographic career, Mr. Byrd has created over 100 works for his companies as well as works for many leading classical and contemporary companies. This list includes Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, The Joffrey Ballet, The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco), Dance Theater of Harlem, and many others. He has worked extensively in theater and opera, both in America and abroad, including Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, The Israeli Opera, New York City Opera, The New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, Intiman Theatre, and Baltimore Center Stage.


Mr. Byrd’s many awards, prizes, and fellowships include the Doris Duke Artist Award; Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Cornish College of the Arts; Masters of Choreography Award, The Kennedy Center; Fellow at The American Academy of Jerusalem; James Baldwin Fellow of United States Artists; Resident Fellow of The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center; Fellow at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, Harvard University; and the Mayor’s Arts Award for his sustained contributions to the City of Seattle.


A high point of Mr. Byrd’s career was a solo museum exhibition Donald Byrd: The America That Is To Be, at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle in 2019. It was the culmination of his 2016 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award, which was funded by the Raynier Institute & Foundation through the Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium. The award supports and advances the creative work of outstanding artists living and working in Washington State.