The Trey McIntyre Project's Spring program was composed of three very different ballets - two created during the company's five years in Boise.
Nearly 1,300 people filled the Morrison Center on Saturday afternoon for the first of two concerts.
The show opened with a short and sweet "Queen of the Goths," a balletic study of Tamora, a character from Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus,"set to a mix of eclectic pop from Nancy Sinatra ("Bang, Bang") and Supergrass ("Alright").
Created in 2007 for Washington Ballet, it is richly choreographed in a classical style perched on the edge of contemporary - a transitional piece from McIntyre's classical ballet origins.
New company member Elizabeth Keller made her Boise debut in the title role with a strong and elegant performance in pointe shoes, which was enough to set the piece apart. McIntyre doesn't go there much these days. Derek Ege and Ryan Redmond took on the roles of Tamora's sons.
McIntyre incorporated a long piece of fuchsia fabric that draws the three characters together.
"Pass, Away" was the newest piece on the program and a world premiere set to a suite of songs by Richard Strauss, sung by Jessye Norman. The contemporary flare of the piece carried a weighty and grounded quality as McIntyre explored ideas of life and mortality.
The partnering throughout the piece took on a different quality from McIntyre's past works. It's still intricate and technical, but here dancers used full body approaches to lifts, using the momentum of body weight to rebound into the air, pulling apart as far as possible, then almost ricocheting.
Ashley Werhun and Travis Walker opened and closed the piece with wonderful dynamic tension. Rachel Sherak and Benjamin Behrends were a joy of lightness and subtlety. Brett Perry and Chanel DaSilva made a powerfully athletic pair. Their level of mutual awareness and trust was clear in how far they could push and pull one another.
McIntyre defined a space within a space on the stage. This time it was with curtains that allowed the dancers to enter and exit in and out of darkness, while an amorphous, cloud-like shape ebbed and grew on a screen behind them.
The performance marked the return of "Arrantza," McIntyre's exploration of Boise's Basque culture created in 2010 for Jaialdi. "Arrantza" is the Basque word for fishing - a metaphor for the search for identity.
A voice-over by Alberto Santana Ezkerra explains that Basques are best defined as people who dance.
His beautiful contemporary variations on traditional Basque dances keep the integrity of the originals alive and vital, as if paying homage to a wellspring for his art form - which it very well may be. The piece ranges from playful to visceral to emotional.
The score is a mix of traditional songs played by Boise Basque musicians Dan Ansotegui, Sean Aucutt, Miren Aizpitarte and Mary Clarkson and recorded interviews by Ezkerra, Lucy Garatea, Diane Pierce and Adelia Simplot to tell a story and underscore the movement.
One of the most moving sections tells a story set in the 1960s in Boise's River Street neighborhood about the drowning of a Greek boy. Neighbors came together despite speaking different languages.
Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland