Trey McIntyre Project at Edison April 1 and 2

Acclaimed choreographer captures spirit of post-Katrina New Orleans

The Trey McIntyre Project will return to St. Louis for the Edison Ovations Series April 1 and 2. Download hi-res image.

Cemeteries and marching bands, skeleton krewes and carnivals both glittering and raucous. Even prior to Hurricane Katrina, few cities understood the fine line between revelry and requiem better than New Orleans.

In April, celebrated choreographer Trey McIntyre — arguably among the most acclaimed of his generation — will return to St. Louis with Ma Maison, a rousing homage to the spirit, vibrancy and resiliency of The City That Care Forgot.

Performances — presented by the Edison Ovations Series at Washington University — will begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2. Tickets are $35; $30 seniors; $25 for Washington University faculty and staff; and $20 for students and children.

Tickets are available at the Edison Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

For more information, call (314) 935-6543 or email


Known for both challenging and expanding the limits of contemporary ballet, McIntyre creates intricate yet powerful works — set to both popular and classical music — filled with striking tableaus and romantic details.

Ma Maison — French for “my house” — originally was commissioned by the New Orleans Ballet Association. McIntyre, hoping to look beyond familiar tropes of Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, recruited groundbreaking costume designer Jeanne Button as well as the legendary New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band, named for the historic venue that has hosted informal jam sessions by many of the city’s jazz pioneers.

The piece, which also features gospel hymns by Sister Gertrude Morgan, begins with a vibrant funeral procession. The dancers wear bright colors and skeleton masks that grin with both menace and glee: an homage to the costumes worn in celebrations of El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

“So much of the culture is about death and dealing with adversity,” McIntyre says of New Orleans. “They bring, with joy, the idea of their eventual death into their daily lives. When you really get that concept, it is such a gift. You know every moment could be your last.”

Following intermission, the program will continue with In Dreams (2007), a darkly lyrical ballet for five dancers set to the music of Roy Orbison. Concluding the program will be The Sweeter End, a brand new collaboration with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and a companion to Ma Maison.

Set in part to the blues classic St. James Infirmary, The Sweeter End opens with a dramatic gesture: a lone dancer spray-painting a large crimson X — the iconic symbol of post-Katrina graffiti — across the backs of the others.

From this arresting image, the piece goes on to investigate the city’s complex intertwining of pleasure, pain and wild joy, as well as questions of how the living learn to confront and commemorate the reality of death.

“The culture in New Orleans celebrates and holds onto pleasure in a way that’s uncommon in the United States,” he says. “Everyone understands its value, and its not maligned as self-indulgent.”

Yet at some primal level, “there is a connection between pleasure and the idea of death,” McIntyre says. “There is an ecstatic component to the idea of leaving this life.”

The New Orleans Times-Picayune hailed Ma Maison as an “artistic triumph” that forges “a powerful blend of street styles and ballet athleticism.” The New York Times added that, “McIntyre taps into the music with vigor” while “the dancers are more than just spirited performers; they are spirits in the flesh.”

Trey McIntyre Project. Download hi-res image.

Trey McIntyre

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 by artistic director Ben Stevenson — and, from 1995 to 2007, served as the company’s choreographic associate.

While in Houston, McIntyre also 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 presented its first national tour, visiting 25 cities from its home base in Boise, Idaho.

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.”

Edison Ovations Series

Founded in 1973, the Edison Ovations Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis.

Edison Theatre programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors. The Ovations season is supported by The Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Calendar Summary

WHO: Trey McIntyre Project

WHAT: Dance concert

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2

WHERE: Edison Theatre, Washington University, Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

TICKETS: $35; $30 seniors; $25 for Washington University faculty and staff; and $20 for students and children. Available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets

SPONSOR: Edison Ovations Series