KST Spotlight on Trey McIntyre Interview
Trey McIntyre is the head choreographer for Malpaso’s Under Fire, which will be presented at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater on Feb 27th and 28th. KST was able to sit down with Mr. McIntyre and ask him some questions about his work!
Sawtooth Project- Art, Wilderness, and the Human Connection. Photos by Trey McIntyre.
McIntyre got involved with this project via the Joyce Theater in New York City, an initiative to send an American choreographer to work in Havana. Having traveled to Cuba twice before, McIntyre says he jumped at the opportunity.
“They gave me my choice of any company I wanted to work with,” he says. “I had seen videos of this young company and was drawn to them immediately. I knew they would be a really good fit for the kind of work I do.”
The company he chose was Malpaso.
Malpaso translates to “misstep”, however, McIntyre praises the team for their attention to detail and hard work ethic.
“They were a really easy company for me to work with for a lot of reasons,” McIntyre recalls. “They are incredibly disciplined and they focus on the work only. The language barrier helped us, because it fortified our relationship as only an artistic one.”
Trey did not use a translator when working with the dancers. He admits he had to work very hard physically to show the dancers what he needed them to do, and it was a process.
“That’s how I work,” McIntyre comments. “I’d rather be creating from what the energy is in that moment. The vocabulary that comes there to me in the studio is usually the most valuable. It made all of our focus that much sharper.”
McIntyre’s first trip to Cuba was as a guest of the Washington Ballet, the first American company to perform in Cuba during Castro’s reign. He recalls international media like The New York Times being there and panels of choreographers discussing their work. McIntyre said his first experience in Cuba really surged the wave of American interest in Cuban dance. His second visit was for personal growth and research. “I wanted to learn more about the culture and country [instead of] being on that big massive tour.”
On McIntyre’s third and most recent trip there, he teamed up with Malpaso and created his newest work, Under Fire. His inspiration came from a metaphor of beginning anew.
“I had just ended ten years of my own dance company, the Trey McIntyre Dance Project, and I was going through my own internal, transitional process. It’s something that was both literal and symbolic—I had to get rid of all the paper I had. I burned it in a bonfire in my back yard. After everything had gone up in flames I moved the stick and realized that only the outside was burned, and the fire had compacted the inside, making it look more perfect. I thought that was an interesting metaphor for human life in a way. When we try to change our exteriors, it makes us become more of who we really are.”
Under Fire is 21 minutes long and uses five songs, including music from Grandma Kelsey, a Boise, Idaho native. Sink or Swim and Fruits of My Labor are some of Kelsey’s covers in the Under Fire set.
“I had to have a blank slate going in because I didn’t know about the company yet, and I wanted make the work as I learned about them,” McIntyre says. “I have never worked with a company, including my own, that had such a razor sharp focus. They were so intense, and not ego-tripping. I wanted to implant on that experience.”
Trey also comments on how his work was received when it premiered in Cuba earlier this year. “Information travels differently there than it does here. There’s no cable TV, and internet isn’t easily accessible. Word travels in a more traditional way. But I didn’t hear one negative thing [about my work] in Cuba. Everybody said “Hey, this is pretty good.”
McIntyre is sure his work will resonate with Pittsburgh audiences as well.
“The piece is so personal and the dancers met me at that 100%. They are very vulnerable and generous with themselves and the work. It’s very nuancing… an athletic piece at the same time while being meditative. It’s an emotional work, too. There were some tears in the audience at the premiere.”
Plastic. Photo by Trey McIntyre.
In addition to choreographing, McIntyre has also worked on multiple photography projects, and filmed, edited, and performed in short videos, which can be seen here.
Under Fire had its world premiere at the Teatro José Marti in Havana, Cuba on Jan. 30—but it will have its U.S. premiere at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater on Feb. 27 and 28th. Tickets and more info are available here!