Last Thursday I took the three hour drive north to Chicago, IL to see my student, Brett Perry perform with the Trey McIntyre Project. The company will disband under it’s current format at the end of this season and I wanted to make sure that I saw him dance once more with this amazing company in a large theater close to home.
I did not know what Brett would be performing and with Trey’s company, it usually doesn’t matter. Each work is more breath taking than the last. The company’s unbelievable technique is accented by what appears to be reckless abandon and an incredible fluid sensibility. Their lifts are unique and seamless. You learn to expect the unexpected!
This particular evening however, was much different from the others!
I began to teach Brett while he attended pre-school with my daughter, Caitlin at our local YMCA. Caitlin had brought her tap shoes to show-and-tell and Brett was captivated by them.
His mother, Paula brought him to the studio at around 3 years old and he never left. Every time he came to the studio, he had the same boyish enthusiasm that he had that very first day.
He began with our preschool program that combines pre ballet with tap and a bit of acrobatics.
At 5 he started his first real tap class and continued with his acro. Eventually he asked about Jazz and finally Ballet and Modern. He began to successfully compete and gave up a promising career in swimming and diving to concentrate completely on dance.
To make a long and happy story very short…..he was accepted to the Juilliard School and after graduation and went directly to the Trey McIntyre Project.
After I arrived in Chicago that day I learned that Brett would be Tap Dancing in Trey’s ballet performed to songs by the group Queen. I already knew he was doing this ballet and had given him advice about the best shoes to wear but had no idea that I was about to finally see it!
As the curtain came up, there he was, standing alone center stage …..dressed completely in white! And he began to Tap!
If any of you have ever had students who have left you for college and then have gone on to professional careers, there is always a huge sense of pride sitting in the audience.
You are thrilled to see who they have become and glad that you were able to be a part of it. Their technique has long surpassed what you were able to give them and much of what you have given them is no longer visible but buried deep in their souls. You only catch very small glimpses of yourself. This time however, I was there with him like I hadn’t been since he left the studio.
He didn’t tap at the Juilliard except for improvisational work as part of an outreach group visiting hospitals and other locations that enjoyed their volunteer visits. I am still his only real tap teacher!
The work was lovely, choreographed by Trey to fit the concert stage and highlight the carefree feeling of the music. Brett was articulate, animated and wonderful! It was a moment that reminds you that dance is an art that gives back to you over and over again!
Well done Brett! Once again I am proud beyond words and I look forward to seeing it all one more time at Jacob’s Pillow in June!