At the January Young Arts Foundation annual gala, Chanel Da Silva, dancer with the Trey McIntyre Project (TMP), kicked off her heels and broke it down on the temporary dance floor to Michael Jackson's "Startin' Somethin'."
Da Silva, a 2004 Young Arts Winner and Presidential Scholar in the Arts, wasn't dancing for show but rather for herself. Passionate and furious,her movement laid bare the qualities which make her a favorite and stand-out of the TMP repertory company.
She'll return to Miami to perform Saturday at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, when the company presents "The Vinegar Works: Four Dances of Moral Instruction," inspired by the work of illustrator and writer Edward Gorey and set to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich. She'll also dance in "Mercury Half-Life," a new work exploring the essence and times of Freddie Mercury, set to classic Queen songs.
McIntyre's distinctive American and contemporary voice is brought to life by the ten-member dance ensemble that makes up the Trey McIntyre Project. However, this year's the tour is bitter sweet -- the same weekend of the Young Arts party, the news spread that this would be the last year of the repertory company. McIntyre will be pursuing creative work in film and other projects.
We talked to Da Silva about her background in dance and her time with the Idaho-based TMP, a company that, in the last several years, has truly taken the dance world by storm.
ArtBurst Miami: Your bio mentions that dance has been your "strength and joy." Can you elaborate?
Chanel Da Silva: To name a specific example, when my mother passed away in 2006, it was the most challenging and heart-breaking time of my life. I could have easily crumbled and given up from carrying the weight of losing my mother. Instead, I got up every day, went to dance class, went to rehearsal, and stayed steadfast in my training. Dance was my safe space, where I didn't have to think about anything. I could just be me, and let all that was happening in the outside world fade away from my consciousness. In a lot of ways, it saved me.
You have trained at some of the most prestigious dance institutions, such as Julliard and the Ailey School; how has that influenced you and your career?
I've been incredibly blessed to have attended such amazing institutions for dance, but up until a few years ago, I always doubted that I was good enough to be among the best. I doubted myself so much that I almost didn't even audition for The Juilliard School out of fear that I wouldn't stand a chance of being accepted. Luckily, I have a few angels in my life that have seen the best in me, even when I didn't see it in myself, and have pushed me to rise up to my own potential.
I think I would have definitely still pursued a career in dance had I not gone to LaGuardia High School, The Ailey School, and The Juilliard School, because at the core of me, no matter what institution I attended, I knew that I had to dance. There was no question about that. Dance was, and still is, the only thing that makes me utterly happy.
You're a New Yorker through and through. Did you ever picture yourself outside of New York, let alone in Boise, Idaho?
Once I got to my senior year of college, I was ready to explore life outside of New York City. I had grown up there and felt like I needed a change of scenery. However, when I met Trey McIntyre in 2008, and he told me that he was starting a dance company in Boise, I have to admit that I was a little taken aback. I knew nothing about Boise and was surprised that Trey chose that city to be the home base for his dance company. But as a 22-year old, I was up for an adventure! And I was completely inspired by Trey, his movement vocabulary, and the vision he had for the Project.
This is the last year and tour for the full-time dance company. What is next for you?
As I embark on this next phase of my career, my plan is to move my life back to New York City. I'm excited for new possibilities, new explorations, new ideas, and a new me. It is bittersweet to say good-bye to this part of my career that has been so pivotal and life changing, but I am also wildly excited for what is on the horizon.
For the time being, Da Silva is bringing that excitement to the stage for the much-anticipated latest work by McIntyre. Coming off their stint in Chicago, the company will be involved in several community outreach sessions and offering master classes coordinated by MDC Live Arts and SMDCAC. Classes and workshops at the center, New World School of the Arts and Inkub8 take place throughout the week and culminate in the company's one night performance at SMDCAC.
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"The Vinegar Work" and "Mercury Half-Life" take place at 8:00 p.m. at SMDCAC, 10950 SW 211 Street, Cutler Bay. Tickets are $25 to 45 for general admission and $10 for MDC students with valid ID. Call 786-573-5300 or visit smdcac.org.