When Trey McIntyre brought his full-time dance company to Boise in 2008, no one knew just how much it would impact the citys cultural fabric.
The company of young, energetic artists settled into the community, and through its dynamic work on stage, refreshing brand of outreach and innovative business practices earned an international following and put a very bright spotlight on Boise, elevating the cultural expectations here.
And Boise fell in love with TMP. People showed up to paint the studio walls at TMP headquarters, filled seats at sold-out Morrison Center concerts, sponsored dancers, attended fundraisers and enjoyed the attention the city received as a result of the companys success.
Now that the choreographer is cutting his dancers and most of his staff loose to embrace a new artistic vision, it feels a little like a breakup.
I was saddened when I first heard the news, says James Patrick, executive director of the Morrison Center where TMP regularly performed. I can understand Treys perspective. This is a natural transition artists go through, but to see a strong arts organization changing its path, dancers out of work, is hard. TMP has been an important artistic fixture and an advocate for Boise. There will be a void.
McIntyre will seek to fill that void with a new Trey McIntyre Project that will be less about dance and more focused on film and photography two of McIntyres longtime passions.
Ive been craving to create something more tangible, a perfect moment that is captured whether its on film or the way words are arranged on a page, McIntyre said.
THE NEW PROJECT
Since the beginning, McIntyre and his co-founder, John Michael Schert, set up the company to change and adapt to the times so much so that the idea lies at the core of the groups inception, down to its name.
If we called ourselves a ballet company, which we are, that limits what we want to do, Schert told the Statesman in 2009. Thats why were called a project. What we do is always evolving.
TMP grew from a summer company into a nimble dance troupe and eventually into a creative powerhouse for the digital age, incorporating podcasts, YouTube videos and social media as part of its repertoire. The group performed on an international stage and now its time to become something else, McIntyre says.
This new project will open more doors, he says. Not having to maintain the structure of a full-time company will allow me more freedom to pursue more of what I want to do as an artist.
Dance will still be part of the mix, just not the sole focus, he says.
He has several freelance choreography gigs lined up in the U.S. and Australia, and a performance installation at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, Calif. The nearly 30 ballets he created in the past 10 years will be available for other companies to purchase and perform.
He plans to finish work on his narrative documentary about the creation of the New Orleans ballets Ma Maison and The Sweeter End and create a new documentary on TMPs development.
Part of that project will be seriously documenting the next five months of the company, until the dancers contracts run out June 30.
McIntyre and Schert ran the company together as artistic, business and life partners for its first years. After their personal relationship ended, Schert left the company in 2012.
It was Schert who helped keep McIntyre tethered to the dance world. His departure helped facilitate this change, McIntyre says.
Running the company got easier for me after John Michael left, he said.
It also allowed McIntyre the freedom to decide his own trajectory, he says.
We were talking about doing another year, but there really wasnt anything more I had to say, he said. The only thing keeping me from making this change would have been fear.
He is not ruling out having another dance company in the future. Many choreographers have gone in and out of running companies. Twyla Tharp had one of the most successful modern companies in the 1970s and 80s. She disbanded and merged with American Ballet Theatre in 1988 but reorganized another Tharp company in 2000. She also worked in TV, film and Broadway. And she is still creating ballets in her 70s.
CHANGE IS HARD
Even though the transition had been built into the companys organizational structure and talked about for more than a year, the decision to make the change at this time was a surprise, even for those inside the company.
With talk of doing another year, chief strategy officer Caty Solace had been booking dates into 2015.
Wed been having conversations, but it was never direct and there were no dates attached, she says. When the final version came back to me I was surprised at its completeness and I was part of the development of it.
The end of TMPs dance troupe is big news on the dance scene.
Its the talk of the town in our world, Solace says. She is in New York City attending the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference.
I wanted to meet face to face with the people and presenters weve built relationships with and tell them whats happening in person.
As appealing and exciting as a new creative vision might be, there is a cost to the community.
Nine dancers and eight staff will be left looking for jobs. Many moved here during the past six years, bought homes and would like to stay in Boise.
The rich engagement and outreach programs the company developed for Boise School District, St. Lukes Medical Center and other groups will end.
The school performances will be missed, says Roger Lingle, performing arts coordinator for the Boise School District.
I was really sad to hear they changed their focus, he says. They did a performance for middle school kids in November, and the kids were talking about it for weeks afterwards. It just blew their socks off. Were going to miss those opportunities in the future and we will look for something to replace it.
HOW THE CHANGE WILL WORK
TMP will phase out operations over the next few months. Some staff will leave in February, others after the March 15 concerts at the Morrison Center. A smaller staff will run things until the end of June, Solace says.
Solace will stay with the new TMP, along with digital content manager Kyle Morck.
The dancers are now on break and will return to work later this month to learn McIntyres new ballet inspired by Edward Goreys illustrations and stories.
They will perform concert dates on a U.S. tour through June 29, including the final Boise concert.
The last TMP concert will be at Jacobs Pillow in Becket, Mass., one of the venues that was part of the groups beginning. The Pillow is one of the most important dance venues in the world. Its executive and artistic director, Ella Baff, remembers when she first heard of TMP.
I was backstage with John Michael (Schert) one day (in 2005) when he asked if I knew Trey McIntyres work, she remembered.
At the time, Schert was with Alonzo Kings Lines ballet company; McIntyre was a well-known freelancer and TMP was just an idea.
Baff decided to book them for that summer in 2005. They pulled dancers together, rehearsed in Boise and performed on the Pillows smaller stage. A year later they were back with a world premiere and a sold-out series.
People connected with him (McIntyre) and his dancers from the very beginning, Baff says. Its unfortunate when we lose a terrific dance company. I know Boise and the rest of the dance world feel the loss.
A dance company is a convention for creativity, she says.
But you should only have one if really want it, she said.
The Boise community got to know the dancers personally through videos that opened each concert, especially Ashley Werhun, Chanel DaSilva and Brett Perry, the three who danced with TMP for all six of its Boise years.
But in the life of a dance company, contracts come up every year for renewal. Both dancers and artistic directors negotiate and decide whether to work together for another season.
For TMP, that happens in February. This year, because of this decision to let all the contracts go, it happened in December when McIntyre revealed the next phase of the company.
I was definitely surprised by Treys decision, DaSilva said. At the same time, Im really proud of him for taking the risk to do something different. Ive gotten to a place where Im ready to go, so I guess were on parallel paths.
DaSilva plans to move back to her other hometown New York City and figure out her next step.
Its hard. I love TMP so much and I love Boise so much, but Im ready to dabble in other things like creating projects with musicians, and working with different choreographers, she said. Im open to whatever happens.
DaSilva and Perry, along with Travis Walker, have been working with McIntyre to keep his choreographic legacy alive by setting his ballets on other companies, notating them on paper.
Depending on what happens next for me, I hope to keep setting his ballets when I have time, Perry said from Cincinnati where he is setting McIntyres Chasing Squirrel on Cincinnati Ballet. We enjoy working together, so Ill always want to stay in contact with him creatively.
Perry is starting to think about companies he wants to send his resume to.
Ive always had an itch to go to Europe, he said. If he doesnt get a full-time contract he might use Boise as a base and work as a freelance dancer for a while, he says.
Many choreographers work on a short-term basis. Very few companies have year-round contracts these days.
Its going to be hard to say goodbye, Perry said.
Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland