Dance Everything You Can: The Accidental

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

Trey McIntyre says the title of his latest dance, THE ACCIDENTAL, came from the fact that as he was choreographing at the Pennsylvania Ballet studios, he was making it up as he went along, looking for the unexpected, the things that would surprise him. Technically termed as “contemporary ballet” (all the turnouts and none of the tutus), McIntyre’s choreography feels more like the collision of pirouettes and “parkour” – instead of using gravity and inertia to propel themselves down public stairs and city railings like street runners do in “parkour”, the dancers play off each other, using the weight of their partner as if it is an obstacle to overcome, but with a grace that only a classical ballet dancer could bring to surmounting that obstacle. To call the accompanying music a score might be too formal a word for the handful of songs from the Patrick Watson album Adventures In Your Own Backyard that make up the soundtrack, but that does not mean there is not power in the music McIntyre has chosen. In this ART segment you will find a intimate and rigorous portrait of a dance – interviews with the dancers and choreographers and the heady rush of movement as the FRIDAY ARTS cameras take you from rehearsal to Academy of Music performance and back again, often in just the space of a heartbeat.

Web Extra: Editing THE ACCIDENTAL

In the web-exclusive video at the end of this paragraph, editor and producer Michael O’Reilly lays bare the editing process that went into the dance performances from THE ACCIDENTAL – noted choreographer Trey McIntyre’s latest collaboration with the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Using four different sources – 2 rehearsals from different times and the same performance from 2 different cameras – this is a very different video (see the video below) from the single straight on wide shot of the performance, understandably preferred by dance and theater because it documents the actual performance without the artifice of editing. There were approximately 150 edits needed to achieve the time and space shifting between these takes and dancers.

The 4 takes were synced up to the music and the edits were chosen largely based on the rhythm of the music. No effort was made to cheat temporally – moving one take backwards or forwards in time – or spatially – moving or scaling the frame – to make an edit fit better with another. Rather, each edit was chosen on how it best fit with the adjacent clips.

The edits may not be the best document of a performance but they reveal a heretofore unseen rigor between both rehearsals and the performance that is missing in the unremarkable wide shot. At times, these edits can transport us from rehearsal to performance with an almost uncanny magic (see the cut in the video below at 3:04 and especially at 4:12, represented in the looping image above) In this piece, we can readily read the emotions of the dancers from the close-up’s of their faces, something difficult to make out from too many seats in any performance space. It may be helpful to surrender to the heady feeling that can come from the physicality manifested in the edits, the camera work and the performers, and see the video below for what it is: a chance to not only respond to space with the dancers, but to move through time with the filmmakers for a wholly unique dance and film experience.

FRIDAY ARTS wants to thank Marissa Montenegro for her help in shepherding this process and to Trey McIntyre, the Pennsylvania Ballet and the fine dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet for the opportunity to conduct such a rare experiment.

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