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Trey McIntyre Project

'Like a Samba,' 'Just,' 'Go Out'

by Oksana Khadarina

August 8, 2006 -- Filene Center at Wolf Trap, Vienna, Virginia

The Trey McIntyre Project is a unique dance company. It rehearses at the White Oak Plantation complex in Florida, and performs at a number of dance festivals only off-season in summer. The founder and artistic director, Trey McIntyre, is widely recognized as a talented, prolific, innovative, and much in-demand choreographer. This summer, he 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 the renowned Vail International, Jacob’s Pillow, and Wolf Trap festivals.

Created almost 10 years ago to Brazilian hit songs by jazz artist Antonio Carlos Jobim, “Like a Samba” is one of the most popular and frequently performed McIntyre works. This show-dance opens with arresting images of five dancing silhouettes in the middle of bright white squares projected on a red-lit background: wiggling hips, twisting torsos, flowing arms, and tapping feet—all moving with boundless energy. McIntyre expertly melds together classical ballet and ballroom dancing, creating an amazing tapestry of movements. Elaborate holds, breathtaking throws, and intricate footwork—all tinged with humor–like a samba and much more. Samba has never looked more thrilling, elegant, and classy! Women were flying through men’s arms with fearless abandon. Men were sweeping them off the ground in imaginative lifts and turns.

And then there she was, heartbreakingly beautiful, The Girl From Ipanema. “Tall and tan and young and lovely,” Michele Jimenez was simply glorious dancing to the most popular bossa nova song ever written. At first, her movements were slow and reserved, yet very graceful and elegant. When she noticed two bystanders admiring her from a distance, she instantly transformed herself into a dancing queen.

Designer Janet Elam added to the charm of the dance by creating beautiful costumes: sexy, shimmering white dresses for senhoras and chic white suits for senhors.

The second dance on the program, “Just,” was quite a change from the uplifting curtain-opener. Premiering in February of this year with the Oregon Ballet Theater, the performance is choreographed to Henry Cowell’s sonorous “Set of Five for Violin, Piano, and Percussion.” It’s a music-inspired abstract—an interplay of melancholy melodies and sophisticated dance movements. Costumes were designed by Patrick Long—light beige shorts for men and lingerie-like leotards for women—accentuate the beauty of the dancing figure. A new member of the company, a St. Petersburg native, Artur Sultanov, was undoubtedly a centerpiece of this dance. His height (measuring 6’5’’) and as if sculpted physique was an embodiment of masculine strength and athletic prowess, Sultanov’s solo was a showpiece of its own. McIntyre created diverse choreographic palette ranging from smooth and slow lines to robotic-like gestures for Sultanov’s character. The dancer provided a highly artistic response to the music, and demonstrated immaculate virtuoso technique.

After the intermission, the company presented “Go Out”—a new work created for the entire troupe. “Go Out” is both a dance and spectacle, whose main character is a woman in a tantalizing crimson dress (Alison Roper). Enigmatic and mysterious, she is always present. Is she Fate? Or Death? The audience is to decide.  The first sounds of a gospel “I Wonder Will We Meet Again” set a spiritual but ominous mood to the performance. The curtain opens on a street scene: a crowd stands over the prostrate body of a young man and mourns the untimely loss of his life. Eleven bluegrass songs provide a soundtrack for mini-theatrical plays performed by dancers as solos, duets, or ensembles. The choreography is powerful and emotionally expressive, echoing the directness and intensity of the musical score. The most memorable and dramatic scene of the dance is its finale: a duet of Alison Roper and John Michael Schert to the ballad, “O Death.” It’s a hero’s (Schert) crusade with Death, at the end of which Roper triumphantly walks away, leaving his lifeless body behind. Fate is inescapable...

The program was superbly danced, and a standing ovation at the end of the performance was rightly deserved.

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