Boise Dance Co-op's Inaugural Performance is a Mixed Bag

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Boise's various dance companies provide lovers of the art form with a chance to mix it up. They can watch a modern performance with Idaho Dance Theatre or get a fix of glimmering tutus and pointe shoes with Ballet Idaho.

Normally, understanding what IDT, Ballet Idaho, Trey McIntyre Project, Off Center Dance Project and the like have to offer would involve attending myriad performances during the companies' seasons. But the inaugural performance of the Boise Dance Co-op, a new collaborative project featuring dancers from Treasure Valley companies working together during the roughly five-month off season, provides an audience with a glimpse at the talent of Boise dancers in performance. The first of those performances was just under two hours at the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Annex Auditorium Aug. 4.

Dancers warmed up onstage before the Boise Dance Co-Op performance.
  • Dancers warm up onstage before the Boise Dance Co-op performance.

The level of enthusiasm for the show was palpable as attendees braved the heat on the afternoon and formed a line down the railing outside the annex, some hoping for tickets to the sold-out show. Inside, Co-op founders and dancers Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti and Jason Hartley worked to get as many people into the auditorium as possible.

An anxious audience waited patiently until the lights went down about 20 minutes after the show's slated start time. Hartley and Affrunti thanked the audience and various contributors and delivered a warning to those with severe allergies about the first piece in the second act using "a lot of latex" before the principal Ballet Idaho dancer was hoisted above Hartley's head and told attendees to enjoy the show.

The first act featured five works, including the premiere of Changes and Choices, choreographed and performed by Lydia Sakolsky-Basquill and Yurek Hansen, both longtime figures in the dance community. After opening with a spirited, silent-movie-esque piece entitled Scot Free, which featured dancers whimsically competing for the spotlight and trying to steal kisses, along with an energetic tap dance sequence, the mood in the auditorium did a 180. Basquill and Hansen's modern piece was beautiful and intense, characterized by strong gazes. The sharp transition from piece to piece remained a theme throughout both acts of the performance, keeping the audience on its toes.

Dancers gathered onstage after the final piece in Boise Dance Co-Ops inaugural performance Aug. 4.
  • Dancers gather onstage after the final piece in Boise Dance Co-op's inaugural performance Aug. 4.


La Bayadere Grand Pas De Deux Act II was next, featuring the style of traditional ballet that is the stuff of little girls' dreams. To the End of Love followed and featured expert choreography by Angela Napier, which made perfect use of a duet from the Civil Wars.

Hartley's self-choreographed solo wrapped up the first act, showcasing his precise movements and acrobatic skills.

During intermission, attendees learned a little more about the featured dancers through photos and bios lining the lobby of the auditorium's walls.

The latex-laden premiere of Skin, choreographed by Off Center Dance Project Artistic Director Kelli Brown, featured dancers covered in red body paint flapping large sheets of the textile. The piece was followed by another premiere, Polyamorous, choreographed by Idaho Dance Theatre's Gonzalo Valdez. The piece explored the idea of polyamory in a modern-style dance set to tango-type music by Bajofondo.

The Black Swan Pas De Deux was up next, and featured Ballet Idaho's Andrew Taft and a stunning Elizabeth Herrmann-Baretto demonstrating their technique in epic turn sequences.

Trey McIntyre Project's Chanel Da Silva's innovative choreography was showcased in her new work My Girls, which had three dancers performing nearly animal-like moves.

Two works by Hartley finished out the show. Excerpt from Sanctified Shells was a dreamy duet performed by Adrienne Kerr and Hansen. Shook On It brought smiles as Hartley and Frank Affrunti, clad in some hilarious attire, performed the energetic duet.

The performance concluded with the gigantic cast coming together on stage and engaging in a fun and funky dance party while the audience rose to give the performers a standing ovation, thereby showing their gratitude for the mixed-bag performance. Overall, the show accomplished quite the feat—bringing diverse dance styles together without resulting in a schizophrenic, disjointed show. The future of the Co-op remains open.

As Hartley said, "There's 1,000 ways it could go. We can put on anything. We can mold into any avenue that is needed." Dance lovers can only hope that future co-op performances demonstrate the same level of exciting ingenuity from the talented group.

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