“I could almost hear the clatter of bones as nine skeletons, dressed in Carnival motley, shimmied to the wailing clarinet, dangled loose-limbed arms to the thrum of the banjo, and jerked their heads, as if nagged by the long, steady roll of the snare. When a downbeat came, they let loose with fluttering steps and whiplash turns from the world of ballet, moving with the singular purpose of schooling fish chased by a shark.
For me, and the thousand cheering dance fans who packed Tulane University’s Dixon Hall on Friday, Nov. 21, it seemed that Mardi Gras had come early — not the Bourbon Street party for hooting tourists and girls-gone-wild, but the dark revel that only makes sense when you’ve gone through a hurricane season, buried a few friends and danced in a second line parade with tears in your eyes.
Is it clear that I’m also talking about an artistic triumph? I hope so, for that’s exactly what was delivered in “Ma Maison,” the stunning, 30-minute dance collaboration between choreographer Trey McIntyre, local costume designer Jeanne Button, the improvising musicians of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and nine dancers whose artistry let them forge a powerful blend of street styles and ballet athleticism.
“Ma Maison” unfolded seamlessly on Friday as dancers from the Trey McIntyre Project mixed Halloween mime and ballet lifts with knee-knocking Charleston steps and the sudden shifts of direction one associates with great running backs at the line of scrimmage.”