The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
DANCECleveland, a Knight Arts grantee, and The University of Akron have got a good thing going for the dance world. For five years now, the two groups have collaborated to bring outstanding dance companies to the Akron area for performances and to hold special master classes for university students.
This year brings a big dance prize — the Trey McIntyre Project. This dance company has been duly noted as bringing a fresh perspective on contemporary ballet, along with beautiful dancers, enchanting music and a magnetic connection to audiences.
I took in this company once when it appeared at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in western Massachusetts. The group caught my eye — for its intrinsic musicality and a dance vocabulary that seemed both familiar and quirkily new and wonderful at the same time.
The Trey McIntyre Project burst onto the national dance scene in 2005 at The Vail International Dance Festival. Guided by Trey McIntyre's unparalled ear for musical structures, it has been said, the company's repertoire spans rock, classical music, jazz, bluegrass and folk music.
In interviews, Trey McIntyre has spoken eloquently about what he terms a peculiar and distinctive ear for music. He has said that people have given him pieces, but he mostly says "No." Some friends, who are more in tune with his taste, he has said, have led him to some considerations.
What seems clear is that music — and specific musical pieces and the layering within them — trigger McIntyre's choreographic spirit.
Along those lines, the line up for the Akron performance includes two acclaimed McIntyre dances, "Bad Winter" and "Leatherwing Hat," plus "Ladies and Gentle Men," a work recently premiered at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
"Bad Winter" is based on a short trio of songs: Arthur Tracy's 1937 recording of "Pennies from Heaven," plus "That Home" and "To Build a Home" from British jazz and electronic band Cinematic Orchestra.
"Leatherwing Bat" is choreographed to folksong recordings by musical legends Peter, Paul and Mary. The pieces portray the whimsical and poignant aspects of childhood.
McIntyre's newest work, "Ladies and Gentle Men" was inspired by Marlo Thomas' television and audio series, "Free to Be ... You and Me" — and has been called a touching paean to tolerance and self-expression.
Trey McIntyre Project will appear for DANCECleveland and The University of Akron on Saturday, October 6 at 8 p.m. in E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron; 330-972-7570; www.ejthomashall.com. Ticket prices range from $11.50-$46.50.