There are many special things about Jacob’s Pillow. Among them, the dance festival’s willingness to test the new.
Trey McIntyre Project
WHERE: Jacob’s Pillow, Route 20, Becket, Mass.
WHEN: 2 and 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $58; $53 for seniors, students and children
MORE INFO: (413) 243-0745 or www.jacobspillow.org
This week’s performance, the last for the summer, features the first outing for a new company in the first showing of two new dances.
It was a wise bet for the Pillow, as choreographer Trey McIntyre is no stranger. He has been there in years past, with success, with his pick-up group the Trey McIntyre Project. Last year, McIntyre decided to slip off his freelance shoes and establish the Project as a year-round touring entity.
McIntyre could not have been blessed with a more auspicious start than at the Pillow. Just being there ranks the ensemble as world-class. And they are.
Trey McIntyre Project looks great — shiny, crisp and buoyant. And the ensemble of 10 is dancing pieces that assure viewers that McIntyre is a happy talent — independent, positive and inventive.
“Surrender” is the first of the world premieres. The borders of the stage are outlined with red carnival lights. Chanel DaSilva stands alone, looking nervous, in a lacy cocktail dress and heels. And then out strides Jason Hartley, dressed as a wrestler.
In this high school dance setting, they look at each other and he runs to her in the first rush of teenage desire. She looks tentative, but to the robust beat of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Do the Locomotion,” she gives in to his advances.
As the song ends, their pas de deux moves to sweetly romantic to Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Mirlitons.” And ends with the two looking a each other again, like they never did before, and realizing they have more than sexual passion. They embrace in honest affection to Regina Spektor singing “Real Love.”
The piece is short, and at times, humorous for its depiction of youthful awkwardness. “Surrender” scores as it clearly expresses the build up to love. There is no better ride.
Injection of humor
McIntyre also injects humor and sobering thoughts into “Leatherwing Bat,” the other world premiere. Set to music by Peter, Paul and Mary, the dance’s costumes by Sandra Woodall suggests Renaissance. But of course, the stories sung by the iconic folk ensemble are timeless. And again, McIntyre, as if gauging his own growth from freelancer to man-in-charge, touches on the maturation of character.
Here, McIntyre’s quirky garnishes, like a twirling finger or a flick of the head, are magnified and appreciated.
John Michael Schert and Brett Perry stand out in “Leatherwing Bat,” for their abilities, not just as dancers but as actors who can cut to the heart of the movement’s impulse.
The evening ends with “The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry)” to Dvorak’s “Serenade in E.” The 2003 ballet, created for the Washington Ballet, features four couples, tossing off some playful moves. Schert and Lia Cirio dance a quiet, gentle duet that is sublime for its sensitivity.
McIntyre also toys with the audience by providing a few false endings. But as the title implies, McIntyre adheres to classical form and creates lush and beautiful poetry.
It will be a pleasure to watch this young artist and his company’s development. I have high hopes.