(Image courtesy of TreyMcIntyre.com)
With much anticipation, I went to see Trey McIntyre Project at the Wolf Trap. It was their famous repertoire Rock Ballet to Beatles and Beck. We sat in box seats right in the middle. The weather was 100F with 60% humidity, nothing I had ever experienced in Seattle. It was made much worse by the fact that Wolf Trap was an outdoor theater, a great performing hall otherwise. I couldn’t imagine how the dancers performed in that condition, but they did a fabulous job, as if nothing was different. The show featured famous tunes from Beck’s Odeley album, 12 songs from Beatles, and one from Beethoven. I really liked the show from many aspects. In particular, Trey McIntyre is ingeneous in his surprising choreography sequences. The movements weren’t dry, put together like jigsaw puzzels like many modern dance. They were flowy. The dancers executed with beautiful lines, great extensions and interpretation to music. Albeit modern dance movements are a whole set of new vocabulary, it wasn’t difficult to relate to the movements or the meaning behind them. I guess the only disappointment of the show was the lack of technical difficulty in the choreography, especially for the male dancers. The Rock Ballet was a pleasure to watch, definitely a very good introduction for beginner ballet audience.
Thus far, My favorite ballet companies are Compania Nacional de Danza in Spain, Grupo Corpo from Brazil, and Sydney Dance Company from Australia. I realize I haven’t seen a lot of ballet companies and it’s perhaps by accident that the three aforementioned companies are all non-American modern ballet companies. I am not a big fan of modern dance because too many modern dances think they can just do whatever they want with no regard to the esthetics of a perfectly executed movement that ballet has perfected over centuries. Yes, what I am saying is I like those feet nicely pointed when they are meant to be pointed. Modern ballet, in my mind, takes advantage of both modern dance and ballet. The modern part of it allows further exploration of range of motion, movement space, dance vocabulary, music, costume and stage design beyond traditional ballet.
In the March performance, I did a tai chi inspired Chinese modern dance. During rehearsal, I had a very interesting discussion with my dance teacher. He told me that many of the modern dance frontiers like Martha Grahm. Ever since then, I realized that I could relate the movements I’ve learned in my Taichi dance to modern dance much more. The movements are organic, natural, ergonomic, and dynamic. It’d be great to find a modern ballet dance studio someday to try it out.