Trey McIntyre was goofing off outside The Dance Center in Wichita one day back in the 1980s, showing off some moves he’d created himself instead of practicing assigned steps inside, when his teacher spotted him through a window.
“Instead of scolding me, she said ‘Why don’t you come in and show the rest of the class?’” McIntrye said.
The teacher, Carol Iwasaka, turned out to be something of a prophet. Today, McIntyre is one of the busiest choreographers in the world and the head of a Boise-based dance company, the Trey McIntyre Project. He brings TMP to the Orpheum Theatre on Friday, March 29 to kick off its 2013 dance series.
McIntyre has been called a “bright light” in dance by the Los Angeles Times, while the New York Times said in an article about him: “If you had to pick a dance company to represent the United States, the Trey McIntyre Project would be an excellent choice.”
But although he’s seen his works staged around the world, he sounds genuinely happy to be returning to the place where it all started. “Members of my family will be there,” he said. “It’s really exciting for me to be able to bring my company back to Wichita.”
McIntyre grew up interested in music and the theater and took his first dance lesson here at age 11. At 15, he decided he’d found his calling and enrolled in the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.
“I was a pretty enterprising kid,” he said. “I just started doing my research, looking in industry magazines. My mom drove me all around the country. It became really apparent that if you’re not already placed in a job around age 18, your prospects are really slim.”
By 18, when he was attending the Houston Ballet Academy on full scholarship, something else had become apparent. At 6-foot-5, McIntyre was too tall to fit into the world of classical ballet. He began focusing more than ever on choreography.
To date he has created more than 90 dance works, for companies including the Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and Moscow Ballet Theatre.
TMP, which he started five years ago, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is not just to entertain audiences, but also to “engage and educate whole communities,” according to its website. Company members visit schools, hospitals, businesses and places, where they perform without notice in bustling public spaces.
McIntyre has also become known for his collaborations. As recounted by the New York Times, when three South Korean dancers arrived in Boise last year to dance with TMP, they were met at the airport by McIntyre’s company dancing to the viral hit “Gangnam Style.” The South Korean dancers joined in.
In Boise, known for its dance-loving Basque population, McIntyre was the first non-Basque choreographer asked to participate in the group’s local festival.
“Arrantza,” a work influenced by Basque folk dances, is one of the pieces TMP will present at the Orpheum. Others include “Queen of the Goths,” which McIntyre described as a character study of a Shakespearean role, and “Pass Away,” set to operatic recordings.
“In the fifth year of having a company, I’m really able to go further with each piece, challenge the dancers and challenge myself,” McIntyre said. “Each piece really shows the growth of the company.”
Event info | 2013 Orpheum Dance Series
Trey McIntyre Project — 8 p.m. March 29
Wichita State Contemporary Dance Theatre — 7:30 p.m. May 11
MOMIX: Botanica — 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5