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Interview: Choreographer Trey McIntyre Dishes on the Magic of PETER PAN at Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet invites one and all into the world of PETER PAN!

Interview: Choreographer Trey McIntyre Dishes on the Magic of PETER PAN at Houston Ballet This weekend, Houston Ballet's season kicks off with the spectacular PETER PAN. Given the caliber of Houston Ballet's talent, unwavering precision, and ever-beautiful artistic expression, I have no doubt that this magical tale is one worth attending.

Based upon the classic children's story by Sir James M. Barrie, PETER PAN follows Wendy, John, Michael, and Peter's imaginative trip to Neverland. Houston Ballet notes that "Told through the eyes of a child, this interpretation of the children's classic tale features flying sequences, swashbuckling swordfights, giant puppets, and costumes inspired by punk fashion sure to mesmerize audiences of all ages."

I spoke with choreographer Trey McIntyre to gain insight into his creative process, the technical challenges in capturing the magic of such a story, and more.


I've been looking forward to this production since I saw the season announcement! Can you walk me through your creative process in tackling such an iconic piece?

I began by reading the book by Barrie. I avoided the movie and seeing the play, making room for my own unique connection to the work. Once I had decided on using Elgar as the music source, I began pouring through recordings of his work, slowly crafting a narrative that struck the right balance between what I brought from the book and what existed within the music. Then I began working with a team of designers to create the world where these characters would live, being meticulous with each fine detail of the story, making sure everything existed for a reason.

The story of Peter Pan requires so many imaginative elements and stunts to come to life on stage. Were there any challenges in translating this story to the stage? Were there any fun surprises along the way?

These are the parts that live particularly within my wheelhouse. Flying is a big part of telling the story. It speaks to one of the metaphors we are often trying to portray in dance...the feeling of weightlessness. The sense that at our best, we can untether from the gravity and the "gravity" of being a human being, bound by constraints. I worked for an entire year, flying myself in a production before starting Peter Pan, so I had quite a bit of experience learning what is possible. The flying is so complex that it takes a great deal of stage time, something always in short supply. So it always feels down to the wire to pull it all together. Thankfully, Houston Ballet is such an organization of excellence that it's the perfect place to be ambitious.

When approaching a classic work like Peter Pan, how do you balance honoring the initial interpretation while adding your own artistic twist?

I would never want to approach a work unless I felt that I had something to contribute beyond what already exists. I think it comes down to understanding what the story is really about and always remaining true to that. The book offers many levels of texture that haven't been a part of many productions, and it was exciting to embellish some of those things.

Piggybacking off that question, what's something nostalgic or familiar that audiences can expect from this ballet? What's something you believe will delight them unexpectedly?

The story of Peter Pan is universal: making the decisions about what kind of adult you will be. How much we can keep our childlike sense of awe and wonder. We all have the sense, no matter how small, that somewhere inside of us, there is infinite greatness. All art gives us access to our infinity. Peter Pan, in particular, pulls out all the stops in transporting the audience to someplace that inspires.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your work on this ballet?

The artists of Houston Ballet are so talented not only as technical athletes but as storytellers. Every single company member is so invested in this story, and their creativity, wit, and emotion make each performance something special. It's an honor for me as an artist to work with these people.

PETER PAN runs from September 9th - 18th at Houston Ballet. Visit houstonballet.org for tickets and more info. Tickets start at just $25.

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From This Author - Audrey Morabito

Audrey Morabito has been in the audience of the Houston theatre scene for over sixteen years, thanks to her parents' love of the arts. Once a starstruck five year old, enthr... (read more about this author)


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