Ballet’s Contemporary-Cool New Season Includes a Punk-Tinged ‘Peter Pan,’ Opening Friday

Ballet’s Contemporary-Cool New Season Includes a Punk-Tinged ‘Peter Pan,’ Opening Friday

Houston Ballet Principal Skylar Campbell as Peter Pan (Photo by Claire McAdams, courtesy of Houston Ballet)

NOW IS AN especially exciting time for ballet. With new generations at the helm of dance institutions around the world, and young choreographers initiating provocative cross-disciplinary collaborations for the stage, classical ballet has fully (and finally) embraced and incorporated contemporary forms of movement, music and stage craft while remaining true to its base language.

Such innovation is apparent in Houston Ballet’s 2022-23 season, which includes the world premiere of Arthur Pita’s Good Vibrations, with music by Christopher Austin that pays tribute to Brian Wilson’s psychedelic masterpiece; Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch’s Red Earth, an exploration of his Australian heritage created in collaboration with composer Peter Sculthorpe and painter Kevin “Pro” Hart; and Mark Morris’s The Letter V.

On Sept. 9, Houston Ballet begins its season with the return of Trey McIntyre’s Peter Pan, based on the beloved children’s book by J.M. Barrie. Created with both kids and adults in mind, the three-act ballet features giant puppets, sword fights and some breath taking flying sequences straight out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

“To a fault, ballet has really been stuck in another time period,” says McIntyre. “And because the world is progressing at such a quick clip, ballet must be a part of that or risk becoming a dinosaur.”

McIntyre, now 52, has never been and is in no danger of ever being referred to as a “dinosaur.” With a body of work that includes more than 100 original dances, he is a tireless creator and collaborator, who through choreography, ventures into film and the visual arts, and a very entertaining YouTube channel, is bringing new audiences to ballet.

“I don’t think we’re aware of how much we communicate non-verbally,” says McIntyre when asked for the secret to telling the story of Peter, the boy who refuses to grow up, with no narration. An amalgamation of traditional ballet movement and immediately recognizable, everyday gestures is one key to relaying the tale. “I am trying to digest other movement forms all the time,” says McIntyre. “But when I’m making choreography, I tend to go very instinctively and not think too hard in the studio.”

Trey McIntyre

Peter Pan’s “punk-inspired” costumes are another crucial element for storytelling. Inspired by the descriptions in Barr’s book, McIntyre gives us a Peter Pan who’s a real wild child, with a shock of matted red hair and an outfit that’s more Tarzan than Sandy Duncan. And then there’s a chorus of lost boys who wouldn’t look out of place in a mosh pit. “It certainly has an edge to it,” says McIntyre of Peter Pan’s visual aesthetic. “It’s not just a classic storybook. I think one of the lost boys wears a Rancid t-shirt.” The ballet costumes were created by Jeanne Button, who died in 2017. For a new section in the ballet featuring the beasts of Neverland, McIntyre, inspired by close-up photography of moths, undertook designing the costumes himself, but made it a goal to stay true to Button’s inimitable vision.

“When I come to Houston, I’m always angling to stay here longer,” says McIntyre, whose relationship with Houston Ballet goes back to 1989 when he was appointed the role of Choreographic Apprentice. Decades later, his connection to the city remains strong. “There’s a sophistication here that I think is easy to miss if you’re a tourist coming through,” says McIntyre. “I just love the people here. I always feel like I’m spending time at home.”

Houston Ballet’s fall 2022 performances also include the Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance (Dec. 2), featuring every lead dancer in a one-night-only performance of highlights from Houston Ballet’s repertory, and beginning Nov. 25, family favorite The Nutcracker runs through Christmas eve.

Art + Entertainment
‘Natural Passion’ Makes Fourth-Gen Houstonian Sarah Callaway Sulma a Realty Star

AS A FOURTH-generation Houstonian, Sarah Callaway Sulma has a unique and invaluable view of the city. Her deep seated connection to Houston led her down the path to becoming one the city's most well-respected, and renowned real estate agents. Sarah's natural passion for the real estate industry from a young age led her to where she is today. "I know that it sounds cheesy, but it is the truth! I wanted to be in real estate from a young age," Sarah shares. "The late-great restaurateur, Tony Vallone, put me together with real estate legend, Martha Turner, and Martha put me together with Cathy Cagle. The rest is history-13 years of success and counting!" Now with over 13 years in real estate and $55M+ in residential real estate sales, Sarah brings a rare combination of knowledge, skill, and advocacy to each one of her clients.

Keep ReadingShow less

THE LATEST RESTAURANT to make a splash in H-Town: Balboa Surf Club is Western Addition Restaurant Group’s first seafood concept among its three other restaurants. The Dallas-based company is building on the success of its neighboring sister, Italian-themed Il Bracco, located in Post Oak Plaza. Named after Balboa Island off the coast of California, Balboa Surf Club aims to be the lighter option with vacation-vibes.

Keep ReadingShow less

A rendering of the aerial view of Lynn Wyatt Square

THE DOWNTOWN THEATER District is about to experience a transformation, with the long anticipated grand opening of Lynn Wyatt Square for the Performing Arts (LWS). Located within a “square” created by Texas avenue and Capitol, Smith and Louisiana streets, and flanked north and east by the Alley Theatre and Jones Hall, the beautifully designed, $26.5 million green space has it all: a flexible performance lawn for concerts, a cascading fountain, one-of-a-kind rockers and tête-à-tête seating, and plenty of accessible entries to its promenades and gardens. Wyatt made a $10 million gift toward the project, and Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Houston First, and numerous foundations funded the rest. LWS will be fully open to the public beginning Friday, Sept. 22.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment