Trey McIntyre Project | Dance review
Maybe more directors should consider basing their companies in the fields of Boise, or the edge of the desert, or the brink of anything other than a city. Trey McIntyre makes a good case for it. One thing about the choreographer’s Boise-based ensemble is certain: They are fully dedicated to its Americana brand, remarkably wholesome in delivery and laden with the type of nostalgia that makes the audience yearn for yesteryear. Is the company’s wholesome vibe a consequence of the small-town embrace of Boise, where McIntyre chose to base his company over a big city? It very well could be.
As the company debuted at the Harris over the weekend the message was not a resounding yes or no, but there’s certainly something about them, and it’s very much in tune with an All-American goodness of the Heartland. In the three pieces performed, it’s evident that one of McIntyre best attributes as a choreographer is his pensive consideration for pop-culture. Where some might avoid pop’s bubbly overtones, McIntyre embraces it and utilizes it effectively.
The Unkindness of Ravens—the first piece in the program—is a bit of a departure from that notion, however. A collaboration with three dancers of the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company, Ravens is something of a sociology project. Over the summer, TMP traveled to Asia on a State Department–sponsored tour, subsequently choosing three Korean dancers from KNCDC to collaborate on a piece. The resulting work centralizes on humor as a survival mechanism, something McIntyre found unique to the raven. A series of jokes rattled off by the dancers expands on the difficulty of language as communicator. Strangely and compellingly cheeky, the “birds” prance and dance in sitcom-like madness; the ensuing malady falls in line with sitcom-comedy’s central rule of thumb: that the main character never find immediate success, otherwise the story arc is essentially over. One of the guest performers begins with a joke in English, broken in delivery, but true to the fact that humor is somewhat of a transitive art—awkward and unique to certain cultures. It’s a theme throughout, though the relationships of the dancers build more on the physical interaction than spoken word.
While Ravens is good, Bad Winter and Ladies and Gentle Men are great. Chanel DaSilva radiates in Bad Winter’s opening solo, the coattails of her white jacket painting their way through the lucid choreography. It’s sad to a degree, as Arthur Tracy’s melancholy “Pennies from Heaven” feels grandly ironic, considering its depression-era history. As the light fades, Travis Walker and Ashley Werhun follow with a breathless duet. Its good-feel charm is exactly that, coursing through the audience like a breath of fresh air. More than one person noted their happiness during post-performance whispers.
Ladies and Gentle Men closes and could be best representative of TMP’s wholesome feel. The dancing, again, is fantastic, but separating itself from the other pieces in the program is the crescendo of its timeline. Beginning with references to a past era, based off the album/television show "Free to Be...You and Me,” McIntyre slowly but surely revels in childhood rebelliousness, riffing with grand duets, solos and groupings for a finale that sees the cast bask in their individuality. You say you want a revolution? For the dance world, it seems to be happening in Boise.
For more info on the Trey McIntyre Project visit treymcintyre.com.