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Raising the Barre

Young dance company grows up, moves to Boise

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A new figure in Boise's arts community has been seen attending art gallery openings, sitting at fundraisers and frequenting local restaurants. He's also been spotted shopping at Target and driving down State Street toward Eagle (an area of town he jokingly refers to as "Preagle"). Standing at a few inches shy of 7 feet tall and with the countenance of a teenager, 38-year-old choreographer Trey McIntyre is hard to miss.

A graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Kansas-born McIntyre began working with the Houston Ballet in 1989 as a choreographic apprentice, a choreographic assistant and a freelance choreographer. During the nearly two decades he freelanced, he wrote almost 80 ballets for companies such as American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Memphis, the New York City Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet.

In 2004, he took a major step and founded the Trey McIntyre Project, which functioned as a summer pickup (part-time) dance company, still leaving himself plenty of time to freelance. In February, McIntyre took an even greater leap of faith. He and John Michael Schert—a TMP dancer, the company's executive director and McIntyre's partner both personally and professionally—relocated from San Francisco to the City of Trees and transformed TMP into a full-time company. They bought a house in Boise's North End, leased office space in the Muse Building on Jefferson Street, hired a full complement of administrative staff and set to the task of finding some of the most talented young dancers in the country and convincing them to move to Boise.

In the months since TMP has come to Boise, there's been plenty of buzz about the company. It's due in part to the decision to hire a local PR company, in part to some guerilla-style marketing, such as the 10-minute "Flashdance" Schert performed on the patio of the Boise State Student Union Building this spring, and in small part, to the tall choreographer's public visibility.

But it's also because of the major directional changes happening in Boise's arts community. McIntyre is often mentioned in the same breath as other big name implants now heading up some of the city's biggest arts organizations: Ballet Idaho, Boise Philharmonic, Opera Idaho and Idaho Commission on the Arts. All of these organizations—including TMP—will be looking to the people of Boise for support, both artistically and financially. But for McIntyre, there seems to be more at stake.

The dance company's 2008-2009 season includes a Sept. 20 performance at the Morrison Center, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Both McIntyre and Schert hope for—and expect—a sold-out show, which would serve as an indication that their love for their new hometown is reciprocal. The program includes three works: two new ones and one McIntyre created in 2003. All three premiered on Aug. 20 at Jacob's Pillow in Becket, Mass., and were highly regarded and well-received. Tickets for the seven-night run sold out long before the show, prompting McIntyre to add an eighth. Reviews of the premiere recently ran in both the Boston Globe and The New York Times.

Curious about the buzz, BW tagged along for a day of rehearsals before TMP left for Massachusetts to witness the company's giant leader at work and to see what the art McIntyre makes says about who he is.

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