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Trey McIntyre Project connects with UW students

April 24, 2013

A TMP dancer leaps into the air during "Queen of Goths."

Trey McIntyre Project’s Ryan Redmond leaps into the air during “Queen of Goths” — one of the three pieces performed at the UW World Series concert on April 11. [Photo courtesy of treymcintyre.com.]

After an evening of gravity-defying lifts and lovesick “Pas-de-deux”s at the UW World Series, the dancers of the Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) did not retire to a cloistered green room, where they could change and disperse away from prying eyes. Instead the troupe ascended the Meany Hall Mezzanine to chat, eat and dance with their waiting UW audience.

The student-exclusive after-party complete with heaps of candy, music and prizes—invited over 30 attendees to mingle with world-renown performers. Though the room buzzed with many an awed conversation, the dancers were quick to dismiss their celebrity status and bring the interactions down to earth.

RIGHT: UW students Mike Fujimoto (left) and Audrey Lam (right) pose with dancer Chanel DaSilva at the TMP after party. LEFT: Chanel Silva poses with sophomore Zoe Masnik-Greene. [Photos by Ilona Idlis.]

RIGHT: UW students Mike Fujimoto (left) and Audrey Lam (right) pose with dancer Chanel DaSilva at the TMP after-party.
LEFT: Chanel Silva poses with sophomore Zoe Masnik-Greene. [Photos by Ilona Idlis.]

“I think it’s hard for people to actually approach dancers, because they feel a little intimidated,” said TMP dancer Travis Walker. “But we like to get to know the audience that we’re serving. We’re not these untouchable things to be up there [on stage] and look pretty. We’re people doing higher art, but we’re still people, and we want to relate to the people sitting in the seats.”

No one celebrated that sentiment as much as the dance company’s newest addition—Julliard’s Ryan Redmond—who concluded the night with an impromptu Beyoncé battle with sophomore and UW Dance Major Randy Ford. [You can watch the dance-off below.]

“I have never seen such a thing,” exclaimed Zoe Masnik-Greene, another sophomore in attendance. Though she’d frequented many World Series shows before tonight, she’d never seen such a candid gathering between the spectators and the pros. “It is so cool. I hope we can do more of this in the future—really be able to mingle with the dancers. It’s really necessary [for] students at the University of Washington to be engaged and learn about the arts.”

TMP’s uncharacteristic approach to community engagement is precisely what sets it apart from other dance companies. Founded five years ago by dancer and choreographer Trey McIntyre, TMP’s home base is Boise, ID—hardly the cultural powerhouse one would expect a contemporary, non-profit company to settle in. But thanks to McIntyre’s unusual location choice, TMP has become the guiding light for Boise’s burgeoning arts scene.

“Trey fell in love with Boise,” recalled dancer Brett Perry during a post-show Q&A session. “He felt he could make a difference in the community. It’s not saturated. People there are so hungry for art and music and dance.”

LEFT: TMP dancer Travis Walker  autographs the dance company's posters for the students to take home.  RIGHT: TMP dancer Ryan Redmond (left) and UW Dance major Randy Ford break out their moves for a Beyonce song. [Photos by Ilona Idlis.]

LEFT: TMP dancer Travis Walker autographs the dance company’s posters for the students to take home.
RIGHT: TMP dancer Ryan Redmond (left) and UW Dance major Randy Ford break out their moves for a Beyonce song. [Photos by Ilona Idlis.]

For McIntyre, setting up shop meant much more than renting a roof. His vision was to fully integrate the company into the lifeblood of the city. Today, TMP’s dancers are sponsored by Idahoan businesses, their shows performed at local schools and hospitals, and their repertoire inspired by the ancestry of the local population. [Thursday’s performance included Arrantza – a piece commissioned and informed by Boise’s substantial Basque community.] In turn, TMP dancers are bona fide local celebrities and  often receive free haircuts and massages as tokens of appreciation from the Idahoan citizenry.“We take great pride in Boise and they take great pride in us,” Perry summed up.

When TMP tours, their credo of audience interconnectivity travels with them. So while the student/performer after-party was unprecedented for UW, it’s an established and well-loved practice for McIntyre’s talented crew.

“As an artist, it really means a lot to me to know how much I’ve touched at least one person in the audience,” said veteran dancer Chanel DaSilva of her interactions with the students. “That’s [part of] Trey’s idea—that dance shouldn’t just be this elite art form that no one else can be a part of. He wanted his arts organization to be transparent. If you’re a part of TMP, you’re a part of our family.”

Trey McIntyre Project's Elizabeth Keller dances the part of Queen Tamora in "Queen of Goths." [Photo courtesy of treymcintyre.com.]

Trey McIntyre Project’s Elizabeth Keller dances the part of Queen Tamora in “Queen of Goths.” [Photo courtesy of treymcintyre.com.]

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