Stretching the limits with whimsical, rigorous contemporary ballet

Trey McIntyre is one of today’s most innovative and sought-after choreographers, known for both challenging and expanding the limits of contemporary ballet.

McIntyre’s company, the Trey McIntyre Project, will make its St. Louis debut at 8 p.m. Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 as part of the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series.

Trey McIntyre will expand the limits of ballet when he brings the Trey McIntyre project to campus Oct. 10.
Trey McIntyre will expand the limits of ballet when he brings the Trey McIntyre project to campus Oct. 10.

Taking ballet’s movement vocabulary as a point of departure, McIntyre creates intricate yet powerful works set to both classical and pop scores that are filled with striking tableaus and romantic details.

“I like the clarity and science of that language,” he said in Dance Magazine. “There’s an incredible amount of detail in it. I tend to explore melodies and countermelodies. I write my own rhythmic and lyrical phrase within music.”

The St. Louis program will feature two new works and one iconic piece from McIntyre’s extensive repertory. The evening will open with “Leatherwing Bat,” a whimsical yet poignant work for six dancers that debuted last August at Jacob’s Pillow in New York. Set to Peter, Paul and Mary’s classic folk album “Peter, Paul and Mommy” (1969), the dance explores the awkwardness and loss-of-innocence that accompanies the journey from adolescence to adulthood.

“This collection of music was one of the soundtracks of my childhood,” McIntyre said. “I recently revisited the album after not listening to it for several years and was struck, not with the familiar comfort I had expected, but a profound loneliness and sense of premature adulthood that marked my own life. I realized that the music was comforting to me as a child not because it was childlike, but because it reflected my own unique experience.”

Also on the program is “Surrender,” a quirky battle-of-the-sexes for two dancers set to music by Grand Funk Railroad, Tchaikovsky and Regina Spektor. Concluding the night will be “The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry)” (2003), a playfully postmodern work for eight dancers set to Antonin Dvorak’s Serenade in E, Op 22.

Born in Wichita, Kan., McIntyre trained as a dancer at the North Carolina School of the Arts and later with the Houston Ballet Academy. In 1989, he was named choreographic apprentice to the Houston Ballet — a position created specially for him — and from 1995 to 2007 served as the company’s choreographic associate.

While in Houston, McIntyre began creating works for many of today’s leading dance companies, ranging from American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to the Stuttgart Ballet and Ballet de Santiago.

In 2004, he launched the Trey McIntyre Project as a summer touring company, bursting onto the national scene with a celebrated appearance at The Vail International Dance Festival. In 2008-09, the company will present its first national tour, visiting 30 cities across the United States.

In addition to his many commissions, McIntyre’s honors and awards include two choreographic fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography from the Choo-San Goh & H. Robert Magee Foundation. In 2003, he was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.”

Tickets — $20 for students and children; $28 for faculty, staff and seniors; and $32 to the public — are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. For more information, call 935-6543 or e-mail