An Lee Chang holds Brett Perrys hand as she attempts to run up the body of Tae Hee Kim, then jump onto Ryan Redmonds arms.
The dancers two visiting from Korea, two from the Boise-based Trey McIntyre Project work on the sequence several times to get the right qualities of weight and suspension of gravity. Language starts to break down a bit because the Korean dancers speak little English, and the Americans speak even less Korean.
The communication starts to get physical. Perry lays down and presses his feet against Changs leg, so she can feel his weight on her body.
No, like this, really push, Perry says. You wont hurt her. Shes strong.
Then he jumps up to make the universal pose of a strongman. Kim mirrors him and nods. They all laugh, and the next time through goes much better.
The rehearsal is for Trey McIntyres newest work The Unkindness of Ravens, a collaboration between TMP and the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company.
The piece will have its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York next week. But thats not before its preview performance Nov. 10 in Boise, along with Ladies and Gentle Men (a ballet inspired by the 1970s iconic television program Free to Be You and Me) and the return of Bad Winter.
Dancing across a language barrier is possible because dancers are so physical people, and will go to great lengths to express what theyre trying to say, Perry says.
They also can fall back on the language of dance terms, which are spoken in French no matter what country youre in. Also, Korean dancers already count choreography in English, so its easy to stay on the beat together.
Still, it takes patience, and trust is key, Perry says.
About a week into the process, An Lee and I were having a hard time working on this one lift. Finally, she turned to me and smiled and said I trust you. I said, Good, you should. Im going to be right here. I wont drop you. That was such a great moment. Thats when I knew we could just go for it.
DanceMotion USA sent TMP on a six-city tour of Asia last summer. It is a U.S. State Department and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs program, produced by BAM in New York.
McIntyre and his dancers worked with companies in every city. Most of them performed traditional dance arts. It wasnt until Seoul, Korea, that McIntyre found KNCDC, a company with a similar aesthetic, but very different in style.
I was worried for a while, McIntyre says. They were all incredible companies, it had nothing to do with that, but they didnt feel like the right fit. Even though this company is like-minded, there were enough differences that some exciting content would come out of that on its own.
McIntyre has been creating choreography with his dancers and the three Koreans for four weeks. There is a second cast of Ravens that is all TMP dancers because the company will continue to perform it after Chang, Kim and Lee return home.
This experience has taken these three out of their country for the first time, out of their comfort zones and into a new world of dance, they say.
Trey works very fast, Kim says through translator Ben Chon, head of the Idaho Korean Association. Chon translated through rehearsals and will travel with the company for the next three weeks.
He (Trey) spontaneously creates as he watches his dancers. He can go this way or that way, she says.
The Korean style is more methodical, she explains, dividing long pieces into sections and tackling them separately, then putting them together in the end.
Here, five dancers keep working on the same piece over and over to completion, Kim says. He changes things and the piece evolves with us working together. Its very different.
Kim, Chang and Lee bring a different movement quality to the company. Their technique is grounded in a European style of contemporary dance that is more modern than ballet.
They bring a light and airy quality that contrasts nicely to McIntyres powerful earthbound sensibility.
I like seeing that difference in their movement, Perry says. The mix of our two worlds coming together, I think, is really inspiring.
Though most of their time has been spent at TMP Headquarters, theyve gotten out a bit to explore American and Idaho culture: shopping at Boise Towne Square, driving toward Bogus Basin to see the view, visiting Mayor Dave Bieter (who proclaimed Oct. 30 Korea National Contemporary Dance Company Day), doing a SpurBan (Spontaneous Urban) performance with the company at Hewlett-Packard Co.
That turned out to be one of the most important lessons the three women will take back home, Kim says.
That the dancers themselves, not the staff, go out into the community and they promote their product, Kim says. That is totally new to us. The performance created such fun and a oneness with the audience. Everybody enjoyed. It was not just a one-way presentation. I think that is a very important way to connect.
© 2012 Idaho Statesman