by Tara Morgan
Trey McIntyre Project’s latest performance, At Last, followed the old wedding adage: “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” The three-piece ballet consisted of “Leatherwing Bat,” which premiered in 2008 and is set to the music of Peter Paul and Mary; “Bad Winter,” which had its world premiere on Feb. 11 in Boise; and "Blue Until June," a piece McIntyre originally choreographed for the Washington Ballet in 2000.
After struggling through a jam-packed lobby teeming with kids and grandparents waiting to pick up discounted Saturday matinee tickets, I settled into my seat just as the curtains went up. TMP kicked off its performance with a charming behind-the-scenes video of dancers comparing the flutter of nervousness before they take the stage to first-date jitters.
Soon, a spotlight illuminated dancer John Michael Schert’s bulging icicle-white legs as the line, “I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor” boomed above. Clad in short black briefs and a small jacket, Schert’s gazelle-like leaps in “Leatherwing Bat” were lovely, but it was the lithe Brett Perry who stole the show. Perry sailed across the stage in wrapped-ankle jeans, feather-light like the paper airplanes that flew in intermittently. He thrashed and pranced to the beat of the songs, expressive yet subtle in his movements; he was impossible to stop watching.
For the show's second piece, “Bad Winter,” dancer Chanel DaSilva emerged in a white, long-tailed jacket and boy shorts to the song, “Pennies from Heaven.” I half expected her to twirl on a top hat and tap out a razzle-dazzle cane number, but she payed it much more wounded. She slinked across the floor, at times struggling to shed her jacket skin. The dance was intriguing but not nearly as poignant as the second number, which was perhaps the most achingly beautiful dance I’ve seen by TMP.
Set to the somber track, “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra, the number featured Travis Walker and Lauren Edson decked out in bold Ikea-hued undies. Walker played it cool at the start, his taut muscles flexed under a soft T-shirt. But as the couple got more comfortable with each other, they moved in tandem almost like bicycle wheels, bound by some invisible chain. Even when their bodies tangled in the give-and-tug of relationship drama, their movements maintained a certain swirl of symbiosis. As the song’s refrain of “I built a home for you / for me” floated out in a chilling falsetto, Edison clung to Walker like he was the house being sung about. For a Boise world premiere on Valentine’s Day weekend, the song couldn’t have been a more perfect fit: “This is a place where I don’t feel alone / This is a place where I feel at home.”
The performance’s closing number, “Blue Until June,” was a tribute to the late Etta James. The piece was originally staged at the Washington Ballet in 2000, but got a second breath of life after James’ death. With light khaki mud smudged across their costumes and faces—a flourish that was both superfluous and difficult to discern from the middle of the auditorium—the company’s dancers dipped and spun to classics like “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” “If I Can’t Have You” and “Seven Day Fool.” Highlights from the final act included Annali Rose’s oh-so-composed classical twirlings in a flower petal strappy dress, newby Benjamin Behrends’ artful stumblings during the drinking ballad “One For My Baby,” and the slow final adieu of "At Last."