Rock-star dancers

Fall in love with Boise’s energetic, athletic company

Contributing writerApril 5, 2013 

It might seem unlikely that a renowned modern dance company would make its home in Boise, Idaho.

But Trey McIntyre Project, making its Olympia debut Tuesday, isn’t just based in Boise: It’s loved there. Kind of like the hometown sports team.

“We get discounted bodywork,” said Brett Perry, who has danced with the company since its founding in 2008. “We get free haircuts. People just love taking care of us. When we’re in the grocery store, they recognize us: ‘You’re from Trey McIntyre Project. We love you guys.’

“We’re kind of like little local celebrities.”

The company has sold out the 2,000-seat Morrison Center for the Performing Arts in Boise and has partnerships with numerous other groups, including Boise State University, which offers company employees free education and is developing an arts institute.

In a 2010 New York Times article, Claudia La Rocco described the enthusiasm at the debut of “Arrantza,” one of the dances on Tuesday’s program. The dance celebrates the lives of Basques in Boise and was commissioned as part of Jaialdi, Boise’s festival of Basque culture.

“People whooped and giggled during the ballet and surged to their feet after it,” she wrote. “At intermission, tearful viewers thanked company members.”

“We’ve been able to really put Boise on the map as a young, vibrant arts community,” said Perry, who joined the company after his graduation from Juilliard and who serves as an ambassador for the Seattle-based Pride Foundation.

He said the dancers are aware they wouldn’t be getting this kind of attention in New York City or San Francisco, among the other places McIntyre considered for his company’s home base.

“In New York City, we would be one of 200-300 dance companies fighting for the same donors,” he said.

In Boise, the company works to be part of the community, bringing dance into schools and hospitals and onto the streets.

And the sports-team analogy is a fitting one.

“The movement is athletic, energetic,” Perry said. “People can tell that we are high-caliber athletes, that we work really hard. We instantly gain their respect and appreciation for that.”

He said McIntyre’s choreography is accessible.

“It is relatable. It’s abstract enough where it makes them question what they are looking at, but the dance isn’t so foreign that they leave feeling confused. People want to understand what’s happening; they want to get it.”

The music is part of the appeal, too. “People fall in love with the music as well as the dance,” Perry said. “Trey likes to use more popular music; it’s not all classical. He’s done work to The Shins. … He’s done work to The Beatles.”

In addition to “Arrantza,” Tuesday’s program includes “Queen of the Goths,” inspired by Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus,” and “Pass, Away,” which looks at the cycles of life and death.

“Queen of the Goths” is set to music by Supergrass, Antony and the Johnsons, and Nancy Sinatra.

“Pass, Away,” in which Perry is featured, is the newest work on the program.

“Though Richard Strauss’ classical suite lent the piece a more traditional ballet feel, McIntyre’s choreography was anything but traditional,” Tara Morgan wrote in a February review for Boise Weekly. “‘Pass, Away’ was arresting in both its athleticism and its delicacy.”

Trey McIntyre Project

What: The acclaimed dance company, based in Boise, Idaho, performs in Olympia for the first time.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia

Tickets: $30-$46; $27-$41 for students, seniors and military; $15-$23 for youth

More information: 360-753-8586, washingtoncenter.org, treymcintyre.com

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