In Dreams


The Washington Post

“There’s a Southern thing going on at the Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America series this week. It’s a fascinating thing, too. Following the success of North Carolina Dance Theatre’s bluegrass romp on the opening-night program, Ballet Memphis told us something quieter, more troubling but just as vibrantly alive with Trey McIntyre’s “In Dreams,” performed Thursday night at the Opera House.

“In Dreams,” choreographed in 2007, is a small work: two men and three women dressed in black, a tribute to Roy Orbison, to whose songs they dance. The lighting is low and intimate, as in some nighttime haunt. The dancing is clear, expansive and uncluttered. Orbison’s magnificent voice fills in the rest of the picture, flooding the stage, washing over the seats with his distinctive emotional fullness. It delivers the potent surprise that North Carolina’s pairing of bluegrass and ballet did. Orbison and ballet: Who’d have imagined that one could refresh the other, and both would emerge tinged with even deeper feeling?

McIntyre distorts ballet steps for emotional effect, substituting broken angles and flat feet where you expect long lines, but he preserves a silky, stylized elegance, even in the sudden collapses and shudders. There was an especially poignant duet to “Crying,” danced by Steven McMahon and Jane Rehm, where falling backward was the silent response to Orbison’s anguish. Rehm melts into McMahon’s arms as if her bones had dissolved; later, when McMahon throws himself backward into empty space, it’s as if an undertow has seized him.”

The New York Times

“”In Dreams” is set to Roy Orbison songs. Since Orbison recorded his first album in Memphis, he is part of the musical tradition that Ms. Pugh hopes to tap for her company. Calling him “the Plácido Domingo of country music,” she likened his singing to “the sound of the human heart breaking.”

Part of the interest of Mr. McIntyre’s work is that it catches fragments of that heartbreak while never trying to illustrate the songs’ words literally. The lyrics say one thing, the dance says another, but they stay in close connection both in mood and in details of phrasing. And so he negotiates the difficulty of choreographing to music so generally appealing that it might easily overwhelm most dances.

Though “In Dreams” makes its dancers look good, it’s not concerned with technical skill. It starts with, and often returns to, a striking formation whereby its five dancers travel, softly and close together, around the stage: this has a dreamlike quality. Then the way one or more dancers separate themselves from the group makes them seem characters in (or dreamers of) the dream. Even when they’re looking out front, they appear to be sightless.

A passage of footwork may suddenly tie in to a figure in the musical accompaniment, a sudden lift may catch a salient note in Orbison’s singing, a dancer may arch back on a closing chord, but much of the choreography floats around the music. In solos, duets and trios, different images of need emerge; but even though the duets are intense, it’s as if they’re happening in the traumatized unconscious. “In Dreams” — which I imagine would make more impact in a smaller theater — is distinctive, touching, and ambiguous.”

Houston Press

“Rock, Roll & Tutus opens with the Houston premiere of In Dreams, an otherworldly, impressionistic dance created by Trey McIntyre to the music of Roy Orbison, a man whose voice Dwight Yoakam once described as the “cry of an angel falling backward through an open window.” Indeed, Orbison sets a mood of unapologetic emotional angst, providing a space for McIntyre to play with traditional balletic movement and to incorporate squats, skip steps, broken lines and flat feet to great effect.

McIntyre’s choreography is grounded, reminiscent at times of eccentric dance (complete with what looked like an Elvis-style leg shake from Charles-Louis Yoshiyama). His five dancers, clad in black and denim blue, appear in every configuration, from solo to quintet, but it’s Jessica Collado’s solo to the piece’s title song that really stands out. Through sweeping gestures, an undulating body, and a fit of starts and stops, Collado is able to emote so much longing, hesitation and resignation under her single spotlight that you’d think Orbison himself would be proud.

 All in all, the work on display in Rock, Roll & Tutus is the future. It threatens the traditional, white tutu-ed landscape with something a little bit modern, a little bit edgy and every bit as dangerous to some as Elvis and his gyrating hips were back in the 1950s. But really, everyone wants to be an early adopter, so that’s just all the more reason to see it right here, right now.”


“the brilliance within “In Dreams” (named after Orbison’s hit), is that the choreography gives as much back to Orbison’s twangy, foot-stomping-blues as Orbison brings to the dance. McIntyre uses restraint with Orbison’s top-of-the-charts rock music from the 1960s, using innuendo, not cliché. Instead the choreography is unexpected—a dancer’s line is broken or twisted for effect, creating something fresh rather than sentimental or predictable. Likewise, the re-envisioned 1960s-style dance dresses by the Bisou Consortium suggest the period without going there.”

The Idaho Statesman

“In “Crying,” a pas de deux with a touch of the 1950s, Fay and Ammon again create a dynamic pair. It’s short but intense and offers one intriguing, intertwining lift and partnering move after another.”

The West Georgian

“They [the audience] were not disappointed. Trey McIntyre’s “In Dreams” mixed several songs by Roy Orbison and Sam Phillips with a modern form of ballet.

Straight arms and flexed feet, the piece developed a sense of primal rhythm not experienced in traditional ballet. The dancers accommodated the different form wonderfully, performing very dynamically with choreographed clapping and explosions of jumps.”


  • Choreography: Trey McIntyre
  • Costumes: The Bisou Consortium
  • Lighting: Travis C. Richardson
  • Music: Roy Orbison
  • Project Details

  • Premiere Company: Ballet Memphis
  • Date of Premiere: February 10, 2007