The Trey McIntyre Project launched into its season at a matinee Saturday with an exuberant display of the companys signature qualities: graceful athleticism, provocative ideas and exploration, and a growing sense of conceptualized theatricality.
The dancers sang, told jokes and recited poetry for more than 1,100 fans at the Morrison Center. For the title piece, The Unkindness of Ravens, McIntyre brought the side lights out from the wings to create a stage within a stage with its own microphone on a stand.
Ravens featured a cast of five: Brett Perry, Ryan Redmond and three guest artists from the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company. The women came to Boise as part of a residency through the U.S. State Department program DanceMotion U.S.A., which sent TMP on a six-city tour of Asia last summer.
McIntyres choreography works with the tension between gravity and space. His dancers powerfully break the bounds and rebound to Earth as if connected by a bungee cord.
The Korean dancers Tae Hee Kim, So Jin Lee and An Lee Chang danced as though they can float. The contrast was lovely to watch in moments such as a duet with Lee and Redmond where they love, taunt and tease one another.
A group of ravens is called an unkindness, like a murder of crows, and this production is inspired by the black bird of Edgar Allen Poe fame. At the same time, McIntyre plays on the notion that these highly intelligent birds have a sense of humor.
The dancers are tricksters. Lee recites a poem in Spanish then tells a joke in English. A cigar-wielding Perry tells one in Korean.
The highly edited score ranges from the opening to A Chorus Line to Korean Buddhist chants and Johnny Cash. Sandra Woodalls tight, black-leather-looking costumes with skull caps offer a cool, unisex look that says were all birds here.
The program brought the return of Bad Winter, a piece McIntyre created last year. From Chanel DaSilvas splashy solo to Pennies from Heaven to Travis Ward and Ashley Werhuns wrenching duet, it was an interesting contrast to Ravens and the closing Ladies and Gentle Men, another theatrical work, this one inspired by the 1970s book, recording and ABC television special Free to Be You and Me. Though all three pieces have their merits, the riveting Bad Winter is a reminder that all you really need are talented dancers and raw emotion to get it done.
The closing Ladies and Gentle Men is a McIntyre masterpiece. Along with the also-autobiographical High Lonesome and Leatherwing Bat he re-examines past cultural dynamics and brings them into focus for a new era. Here, he plays with gender roles and identity beyond gender with subtle, powerful strokes. And his dancers make it happen, from Werhuns dynamic solo swirling in a blue girly dress to Benjamin Behrends performance as the confused Dudley Pippin trying to find his way in the world.
Dana Oland: 377-6442