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Lori Ortiz
Performance Reviews
Jacob's Pillow
United States
Beckett, MA

Trey McIntyre Project Debut— All McIntyre Program at the Pillow

by Lori Ortiz
August 23, 2008
Jacob's Pillow
358 George Carter Road
Beckett, MA 01223
413 243 0745
"Leatherwing Bat," World Premiere; "Surrender," World Premiere; "The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry,)" 2003.
If you listen to the lyrics from "Leatherwing Bat," you will see the new Trey McIntyre dance from one perspective. But when caught up in the dance, you don't closely follow the song it borrows its title from, nor the other Peter, Paul, and Mary hits in the score. Puzzling or not, the dance can make your heart skip a beat. It makes an impressive debut for the new Trey McIntyre Project.

Auspiciously, TMP held its first official season August 20-24th in the Ted Shawn Theater at Jacob's Pillow. Company artistic director and choreographer McIntyre offered Pillow director Ella Baff two premieres for the occasion.

One, "Surrender," opened the show. Chanel DaSilva and Jason Hartley perform this contemporary pas de deux Saturday afternoon. For plot, McIntyre mines an unlikely sequence of music: first Grand Funk Railroad's "The Locomotion," sung by Carol King, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Mirlitons, from "The Nutcracker," and finally, Regina Spector's cover of John Lennon's "Real Love." It works. DaSilva and Hartley meet on a club dance floor. She's in party dress and pumps. He, however, is in athletic wear including knee pads and a protective helmet with ear pads. They dance around each other, ending their game lying in an impossible coupling: sandwiched on their sides (she's on top) in a relaxed fetal position.

"Surrender" then fast-forwards, following the progress of their relationship 'til they go off into the beyond. The mild comedy and a strong DaSilva gently release and warm the audience. Hartley's character is solidly built (so is he) in his solo to "Real Love." The music for "Surrender" is a hard act to follow, but follow it they do, often too literally. But the ending is nicely understated and tells all.

The excellent lighting for the two premieres is by Michael Mazzola. "Leatherwing Bat" begins with the song "Boa Constrictor," and several more, ending with "Puff (the magic Dragon)" and a brief reprise of "Boa Constrictor." "Leatherwing," is formally interesting, AND includes fleeting animal portraits, a paper airplane prop, and a bit of imagery in Sandra Woodall's wonderful costumes. The awesome prince, savior John Michael Schert wears a ballet jacket with a snakeskin lapel, and classical pink tights.

There are some timing kinks, musically, and in one instance where the airplane takes off a bit late and misses an outstretched arm. But the misguided prop affirms the childlike mood and the possibility of doom. Perhaps Brett Perry, in jeans and ballet length jacket, will go off to war. He gallops en l'air magnificently. When the group grabs him it's musically meaningful. Like a contemporary "Dance of the Hours," dialing arms, like clock hands, stop to assess. Then again, the motif could be read as if inspired by the last line of the song "Leatherwing Bat," "If one were faithless and chanced to go/ I'd add the other string to my bow."

"The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry)," made for the Washington Ballet, is the curtain closer. Though stuck between modern dance and classical ballet, there is a memorable section where Virginia Pilgrim stomps flat-footed, following her partner into the wings. (The women wear pointe shoes.) She teases him out to dance. The dancer's heads are modern, a la Paul Taylor, and their upper bodies not pulled up, as if they are stiffly attempting a look of relaxation.

After tantalizing, very brief tours and momentary idiosyncrasies, "…Reassuring…" makes peace with meaty duets and pas de seul. The sharp, precise Lia Cirio, is buoyant yet statuesque. She's not playing to us, to a fault, but we admire her captivating authority— and she's blessedly silent on pointe. Her partner Schert, danseur noble, (and company executive director,) bonds with the audience in the classical manner. But after watching the men repeatedly drag the women into the wings, it's difficult to, in good conscience, enjoy the work.

If nothing else, this 2002 ballet reassures us that McIntyre's new 2008 choreography is cultivating new and promising territory. And "Bat" is the most superb new family-friendly ballet. Its promising individualism remembers past bold visions of Americana from the legendary: DeMille and Balanchine. The possibilities are open, at this point.

Despite the buzz about 'bi-coastal' and 'European,' Kansas born McIntyre chose to bring the action to Middle America. The new Trey McIntyre Project, is based in welcoming Boise, Idaho. There are actually two new ballet companies in that city. There's buzz about Boise as a 'dance Mecca.'

This Jacob's Pillow season launches a TMP multi-city tour, which includes a fall and spring Boise season, and a June Joyce engagement.
Brett Perry, Virginia Pilgrim, John Michael Schert, in 'Leatherwing Bat' at Jacob's Pillow

Brett Perry, Virginia Pilgrim, John Michael Schert, in "Leatherwing Bat" at Jacob's Pillow

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Duggan

Chanel DaSilva and Jason Hartley in 'Surrender' at Jacob's Pillow

Chanel DaSilva and Jason Hartley in "Surrender" at Jacob's Pillow

Photo © & courtesy of Christopher Duggan

TMP 3' Brett Perry in 'The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry)

TMP 3" Brett Perry in "The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry)

Photo © & courtesy of Amitava Sarkar

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