10 Minutes with Trey McIntyre
A year and a half after closing his company, the choreographer continues to bring dance to film, photography and the stage.
Photo from McIntyre’s upcoming book, Private Idaho. Photo by McIntyre.
The dance world gasped when Trey McIntyre announced in 2014 that he was shutting down his company, Trey McIntyre Project, after six wildly successful years as a full-time troupe. The dashing dancemaker, currently traveling around the country, always had a hand in other projects, such as film and photography, so his next chapter as an independent choreographer/filmmaker/photographer was already in motion. As McIntyre works on both books and a film, he’s also making new dances: The latest, for BalletX, is slated for a February 10–14 premiere at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia.
What is the new work for BalletX about?
I am using music by Amy Winehouse. Usually, I don’t focus on biographical info, but I am interested in Amy’s story. I identify with portions of her process as an artist, and her death really affected me. It was so tragic. The ballet explores parts of her life that I resonate with. She had a different way of bringing herself and her art into the world; her struggle with that was her eventual undoing. She was miserable, inconsolable until it was right. The world was terrible until she figured out how to make it into art.
What’s the best part of your life now that your company has closed?
I’m able to return my focus to being an artist, and make that the principal activity of my life. It feels like I’m getting back to myself.
What’s been most difficult?
I was always so proud of how nimble TMP was, and I had an amazing staff that made that possible. Now, if something needs to be done, it has to be me doing it.
Tell us about the film you’ve been working on.
This Used to Be My House is about the life and death of a dance company, and my personal journey through that process. This is my first long-form documentary, so I am learning so much every day. As with most documentaries, you learn what it is about after you shoot it. It’s turning out to be autobiographical, with a big focus on the dances I made during the course of the company, especially the two ballets using the music of Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans, The Sweeter End and Ma Maison. Those pieces examined the unique culture around death in that community, and the film draws metaphorical parallels to the life and death of TMP.
And I understand there are book projects underway as well.
Yes, two, actually! Private Idaho includes nude photos of athletes in the gorgeous terrain of Idaho, with my essays and an intro by actor Alan Cumming. It should be out in a year or so. The second book is about how dancers relate to the place they call home. You can get an idea of my photography from my Instagram, @treymcintyrephoto.
More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:
"Is your daughter the dancer?"
"Actually," I say, "I am."
"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"
"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."
Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.
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