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Trey McIntyre Project at Wolf Trap

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Sarah Kaufman, Trey McIntyre's Refreshing Splash of Samba At Wolf Trap (Washington Post, August 10)
The Trey McIntyre Project is a unique dance company (equally at home on land as in water, as their Web site suggests) in that it rehearses during the year and performs only in the off-season at a number of summer dance festivals. This year, founder and artistic director Trey McIntyre invited eleven dancers from some of the best companies around the country to create new works and showcase some of his earlier productions at venues such as Vail International, Jacob's Pillow, and -- this past Tuesday night -- Wolf Trap.

Photographs by Jonas Lundqvist
Photographs by Jonas Lundqvist
Created almost 10 years ago to music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Like a Samba is one of the most popular and frequently performed McIntyre works. Arresting images of five dancing silhouettes amidst bright white squares projected on a red-lit background, wiggling hips, twisting torsos, flowing arms, and tapping feet open this work and everything seems to move with boundless energy. Classical ballet and ballroom dancing are melded together, creating an amazing tapestry of movements. Elaborate holds, breathtaking throws, and intricate footwork – all tinged with humor – women flying through men’s arms with fearless abandon and men sweeping them off the ground in imaginative lifts and turns made for something akin to Samba and more. It was clearly choreographed to impress and thrilling, elegant, and classy as it was, it fulfilled its mission very well, indeed.

“Tall and tan and young and lovely” Michele Jemenez proceeded to gloriously dance to the most popular Bossa Nova ever written. In her last Washington-area performance before joining the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, her movements in “Girl from Ipanema” were slow and reserved at first, graceful and elegant. When she noticed two (colleague) bystanders admiring her from a distance, she was instantly transformed into a dancing diva. Sexy, shimmering white dresses for the senhoras and chic white suits for senhors were contributed by designer Janet Elam and added exotic, ‘local’ charm.

Just, the second dance on the program, swiftly changed the mood after the uplifting Samba. Just, which premiered in February of this year with the Oregon Ballet Theater, is choreographed to the 1952 Set of Five for Violin, Piano, and Percussion by American composer Henry Cowell (1897-1965), one of the earliest American modernists in music and always interested in rhythm as music’s key ingredient. The combination of music and dance make for an interplay of melancholy tone clusters and melodies and sophisticated dance movements. Light beige shorts for men and lingerie-like leotards for women accentuated the dancing figure. At 6’5”, Kirov-trained Artur Sultanov not only towered over the other dancers but got to show off his remarkable skills in a slow solo fashioned specifically for him.

After the intermission, the company presented Go Out – a new work created for the entire troupe. It is both dance and spectacle, with the main character a woman in a tantalizing crimson dress (Alison Roper). Enigmatic and mysterious, she is always present. Whether Fate or Death or something else, altogether, is for the audience to decide. Gospel ("I Wonder Will We Meet Again") emitted from the speakers gave the flair of spirituals but set an ominous mood. Amid sounds of bluegrass the dancers enacted a rural play on longing, loss, and death – with beauty, poverty, and dry, dusty streets viscerally reeking through the creaks. Alison Roper and her partner John Michael Schert danced superbly – and the usual standing ovations were actually well deserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

would the author please contact me at:

dancecritic at aol dot com?

with thanks.