Trey McIntyre Post-Performance Reflection

Apr 22, 2014

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Trey McIntyre Project Trey McIntyre Project
Photo courtesy of Trey McIntyre Project

After engaging with Trey McIntyre Project and viewing both Mercury Half-Life and The Vinegar Works on Tuesday, we have some questions for your reflection.

What did you notice about the troupe’s unique dance language?

What did the large puppetry remind you of?

How did the juxtaposition of the technical movement versus Queen’s rock anthem affect you?

Tell us about your experience!

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I enjoy watching performances of any kind, however I find some things more difficult to appreciate than other things. Overall I really enjoyed the show, but 90% of that enjoyment came from the second act. I was not able to read the signs between scenes of the first act, so I didn't understand the story lines very well.

What a visual feast! I would be following this troupe continually if I lived where they based. The Gorey first half was a depth of incredible costuming and Gorey-isms, a completely unique, fast-paced blend of ballet, modern, tap, jazz.... Lighting was top-rate, and the giant death puppet was sophisticated and well-used, giving the piece a large-format feeling. Gorey would have LOVED it. Second half continued to amaze. I admit, I'd never heard so much Queen together at one time, but the effect was like a high velocity ride with eyes wide open. The white/red costumes, the athleticism of the dancers and the completely-out-of-the-box movement compositions were a total delight. Thank you Blythe and those who made this happen for us. I'd volunteer again ANYTIME.

It was my first dance show and although I didn't really appreciate the first act (it was a bit to macabre for me) I loved the second act. It was my first experience in which I could truly admire interpretive dance. It felt like the song was being translated but not word for word much like a second language and it did nothing but enhance the already well known songs for me. These were some of the most talented artists I've ever seen step onto a stage. This was my first trip to Northrop but it won't be my last!

I would have liked to have known a bit more about what I was seeing beforehand with the first act - I'm not familiar with the work of Edward Gorey and I like to read programs before a performance starts so a heads up of what to look for or what the inspiration was for each story within the set would have been appreciated for me. Visually stunning - the art of the dancing, the costumes, the puppetry - it still has be reflecting on what I saw as a good art can do. I am new to dance too - have never been to anything beyond the likes of the Nutcracker and I would be more open to seeing more in the future. A shame that this dance group will be disbanding. The second act didn't need any back story and matching the energy and electricity of Queen would be no easy feat but the dancers rose to the occasion and I loved it. The Northrup looked lovely - nice spacious seats in the president's balcony/boxes location.

I came into this performance with really high expectations. With over 90 completed works and as a Northrop performance I was prepared for an exceptional performance. I did not experience this. The dancers were phenomenal-excellent technicians and obviously very well trained. The choreography that they were performing was not nearly as sophisticated as the performers however. At the open rehearsal the rehearsal director stated that they were "breaking boundaries" with the first piece, but I did not experience anything revolutionary. The performance was completely predictable, the costumes were nothing that I had never seen before, and the narrative was definitely viewed through a male gaze which is completely typical in ballet performance. The women were portrayed as being stupid, clumsy, they were the ones who killed, were being killed, and were possessed. Aren't we capable of narratives that are more than this now that we are in the 21st century? Mercury Half-Life had me itching to leave about halfway through the performance. Once again, the performers executed the piece wonderfully but the choreography was nothing special. It reminded me of work that I could have easily seen on "So You Think You Can Dance?". The piece was once again extremely heteronormative, with continual partnering of men with women. The costuming made the performers look like they were some sort of cheerleaders. There was just a complete lack of unity between the music, costuming, and performance. Overall I felt that this performance was very uninspired. I hope that this is not a prediction of what we have to expect from the newly renovated Northrop. I have come to enjoy seeing performances by sophisticated companies such as Gallim, The Shanghai Ballet, and other wonderful companies.

Although I agree that this wasn't a work of choreographic genius and there was much to still be desired, I would have to disagree with you in some of your points. For one, I fail to see the "extreme heteronormative" aspect that you talk about. While I agree that heteronormativity is a problem, I saw a lot of non-traditional partnering pairs in Mercury Half-Life. There were women partnering women, men partnering men, women and men partnering each other. Although there was some traditional partnering as well, I don't always see that as problem in this piece. Sometimes it purely comes down to the man actually being stronger and the woman being light. It wasn't shoving ideas down our throats. It just was. I also am confused as to why you see this is a problem in this work, but then continue in the same breath to praise The Shanghai Ballet, whose entire plot was pushing heteronormativity and stereotypical gender roles. I also think there's something to appreciate about pieces that don't take themselves too seriously. It was fun and spirited. Especially for a show students got to see for free, I'd say that's a perfectly fine thing. After talking to many people after the show who had never seen dance before, their impression was positive. They had fun, they realized dancers are athletes and appreciated the strength and skill needed for this profession, they realized dance is something they CAN enjoy and access. Isn't that at least one of the points of art? To reach out to people? To impact people? Though the show may not have reached you in this way, it did reach others. Now because they've seen this show, they will come back and see these more "sophisticated" companies that you speak of because they know they may enjoy it, and I think that in itself is truly wonderful.

Both acts were amazing. And very different. I could not be happier with the performance. I wish it were multiple nights so I could make sure my friends could see it.

I attended the open rehearsal earlier in the afternoon and saw "The Vinegar Works," and was very glad I did so that I could make the decision NOT to spend my evening in support of white supremacy and capitalism. The Trey McIntyre Project, as confirmed in the name, is about furthering the desires, ideas, and privileges of one white man. Congratulations on receiving all of your government subsidized grants, and for successfully completing your Kickstarter campaign, a site that was created for artists and project-seekers who did NOT have access to other funding. What a great idea after you've obtained all this money to disband the company and put your dancers out of work. The dancers were beautiful, yes, I applaud them and their privileged training. Just a question: WHY ARE THEY DOING BALLET ON STAGE. But I know the answer: because ballet is a technique rooted in whiteness, in luxury, in wealth, in exclusion. This all makes sense now! Ballet is an established technique and is the easiest way for Trey McIntyre to choreograph, using the vocabulary but tweaking it in just so not-creative a way by adding in facial expressions that untrained audiences will recognize and therefore like. But the audiences didn't like it because they didn't "get it," right? Is that why your spokeswoman told everyone that we were lucky as audience members to be collaborating with the dance by making up our own story, because you were too lazy to contain any sort of continuity within a narrative piece? I was thoroughly disappointed by the structure of this company and its egotistical agenda. I apologize for everyone who had to pay $45 or $60 to see this performance. I hope that it aided in your ability to craft your critique of dance, as it sure did mine.

I was very disappointed with the performance. This is supposed to be an amazing company...breaking boundaries in dance. The choreography was predictable and looked as if it was made 30 years ago. I am a dance major and was really bored with the composition and with the narratives. I felt that Trey had some ideas but didn't fully develop them into something substantial. I also did not enjoy the second act with the Queen songs because it looked like a high school recital with highly trained dancers. There was nothing new about it. Cool dance moves. That's all. That's been done before. A lot actually. Every day actually. I want to art that is compelling and questioning and inspiring and touching. This was an archaic display of dance. I can't believe that after ABT, this got a place at the Northrup. And the open rehearsal with the artistic director was appalling as well. This is not America's company. This is old school choreography on some beautiful dancers that is masquerading as new.

After seeing multiple performances put on by Northrop in the last couple years, I can say that Trey is one of my favorites to date. As someone who did not grow up dancing, I thought both performances had something special to offer anyone, not only those involved in dance. The first performance had beautiful costumes and a dark story-telling quality to it that was intriguing. I loved the tall skeleton that represented death, as well as the use of puppetry. The second performance really showed off the athleticism of the dancers, as well as their range. It was fun to see them dance to well-known music, even though they could have probably used a couple less songs. There was a good variation in partners, as they shifted from dancing in a group to individuals and back again. Honestly, it was a great break from performances that are supposed to have some obscure meaning meaning behind them. It was beautiful, upbeat, and high energy. Great show! Side note: It is spelled Northrop...with an O, not Northrup. It's in the url for future reference.

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