Hunched in a burlap clump, a damp sweat clinging to the dance studio air, Trey McIntyre's dancers slowly untangle themselves, lurching forward. Casting off their burlap-sack costumes and falling to the floor, one dancer whirls a Basque flag furiously above his head. Practicing for the upcoming Jaialdi premiere of their new dance "Arrantza" on Friday, July 30, at the Morrison Center, it's apparent the Trey McIntyre Project dancers have channeled the Basque spirit.
"I think we're the only non-Basque dance company to participate [in Jaialdi], which is a great honor, and I kind of equate it to when New Orleans asked me to make a piece about New Orleans culture ... I take it really seriously in terms of wanting to do well with it and make something that's really reverent and shows the beauty of that culture," said TMP artistic director, Trey McIntyre.
"Arrantza" was created in part due to a $25,000 grant TMP was awarded from the City of Boise after being named Boise's first Economic Development Cultural Ambassador. Through hanging out on the Basque Block and connecting with members of the local Basque community, McIntyre was able to record a number of stories that provide audio for the dance.
"[Basque] people answer questions in the form of a story. Storytelling seems to be very important so it seemed a really great way to make that happen was to actually record people's stories and use them as part of the piece," said McIntyre. "So there's an amount of spoken text and people talking about their own experiences in the piece."
TMP worked with the Oinkari Basque dancers to learn the specific steps and body movements of Basque folk dancing. The company plans to tour "Arrantza" across the United States and even make a few stops in the Basque country to show off the culture of TMP's newly adopted home.
"I think, to a certain extent, everything we do showcases Boise ... we have become a representative of the area because people don't know a ton about the place," said McIntyre. "I think showcasing something that is so unique and specific to this area evolves that relationship more and makes us a clearer ambassador, that we are here literally representing the place that we live and work."