Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chasing Squirrels at Dance Salad: Trey McIntyre Returns to Houston

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Choreographer Trey McIntyre started out in the dance world by breaking the rules. As a child, he used to skip ballet class on a regular basis. One day his teacher spotted him in the parking lot teaching some kids some cool moves. Instead of chewing him out she had him teach the steps to the other students. “I have thought of myself as a choreographer ever since,” says McIntyre with a sly grin. He was 12 when he created his first official dance. At 36, he has 70 ballets under his belt, and is currently preparing his hot new company, the Trey McIntyre Project (TMP), for a performance at Dance Salad, an international Houston dance festival. He is one of the few American on the bill.

Houston audiences are well acquainted with this tall, strapping, model-good looking dance icon. He danced with Houston Ballet for six years and has set seven pieces on the company thus far. His mentor, Ben Stevenson, helped launch his career. “Instead of giving me advice, he put my pieces in the rep,” says McIntyre with pride. For Dance Salad, he is bringing excerpts from his delicious and uber-athletic romp called Chasing Squirrel, set to the lusty Latin music of the Kronos Quartet. He was running in the Central Park with Kronos plugged into his headset when he saw a dog go nuts chasing a particularly rambunctious squirrel. The piece portrays women as the powerful ones. “I’m a hard core feminist,” he admits. “The piece is a metaphor for sexual chase.” Nancy Henderek, Dance Salad’s Curator and Artistic Director, has had her eye on McIntyre for some time now and hand picked this piece. “It's a fun, wild, and woolly piece that really captures what I wanted to present from him,” says Henderek. “Trey’s company is a perfect fit for the festival and for Houston dance lovers.”

In addition to being the Artistic Director of his own company, he’s also a Choreographic Associate at Houston Ballet, a Choreographer-in-Residence at The Washington Ballet, and a Resident Choreographer at Ballet Memphis. And if that doesn’t sound like enough, he’s in demand from companies throughout the states.

McIntyre looks for innovative ways to thrive as a choreographer. So far, his savvy strategy is working. He cherry picks the best dancers from high profile companies during the summer months (when they are all unemployed). They rehearse at the famous White Oak Plantation in Florida, then go off and perform at various festivals. “I’m interested in challenging the idea of what it means to have a dance company.”

A native of Wichita, Kansas, he lives in San Francisco, but Houston is still close to his heart. “I love the diverse pockets of funkiness.” He misses his weekly stops at Barnaby’s and all the good barbeque joints. Since leaving Houston he has become somewhat of a rock star in the ballet world as his work graces the repertory of major companies all over the world. “Opportunities come up and I don’t want to turn them down,” says McIntyre with that good old Texas spirit. “I want to do everything; I want it all.”

Trey McIntyre Project performs at Dance Salad on April 13, 14, and 15, 2006, at 7:30 pm, Wortham Center, Cullen Theater. Call 713.315.2525 or visit

Reprinted from Houston.