I had the strangest dream last night. I was at a party with a bunch of musicians: Roy Orbison, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Antony and the Johnsons, Tommy James and the Shondells. (The Sex Pistols crashed it, naturally.) Strips of paper were fluttering to the floor and everyone was dancing. It might have been a wake, except for all the piñatas.
But then my alarm went off and I realized it wasn’t a dream—it was the Trey McIntyre Project
performance I saw last night at the Newmark. It had plenty in common with a good party, though: an eclectic mix of music and guests (including some familiar faces) and plenty of activity to keep things lively.
It started out quietly with In Dreams
, a denim-clad slow dance between Orbison and contemporary ballet (the piece premiered at Ballet Memphis in 2007). In it, choreographer McIntyre toyed with classical technique: His women wore pointe shoes and sometimes danced en pointe, but more often the shoes became a flat-footed extension of the leg, altering the traditional line. As we have often seen in his work—the Idaho-based company is a local favorite—the dancers found the accents and the breaths in the music, such as a running catch-step, like a hiccup, that landed on half-counts.
Jason Hartley’s off-key rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner" abruptly ended the lyrical reverie that was In Dreams, giving way to a bracing blast of the Pistols’ “God Save the Queen,” which signaled the beginning of Gravity Heroes
. That’s when things got weird, in a good way. After a melee of movement, Brett Perry stripped down to a vinyl tank and shorts and danced a thoughtful solo, framed by seated figures wearing large white orbs on their heads. As the ensemble joined in, they were lit so that their shadows danced behind them as a kind of ghostly corps. If McIntyre’s inspiration--yesteryear daredevils who sent themselves over Niagara Falls in barrels—wasn’t immediately apparent, well, it was fascinating nonetheless.
The Sweeter End
concluded the evening. An ode to the bittersweetness of modern life in New Orleans, it was set to Preservation Jazz Hall numbers, including both a dirgy and an upbeat version “St. James Infirmary.” Chanel DaSilva, wearing a denim halter and hot pants spray-painted with the words “What Now?” danced her heart out until she was carried offstage, twitching to the last trumpet echoes. Annali Rose offered a spectacular shimmy in a fringed LBD. Dandies and regular Joes hoofed side by side, twirling oversized umbrella frames (or were they crucifixes?) and exiting with a diagonal group Charleston. It all culminated in a freewheeling dance party with a few dark undertones. It was a dizzying end to a transfixing night, and, like a dream, something to ponder in the days to come.
SEE IT: Trey McIntyre Project at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 248-4335, whitebird.org
. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday Dec. 2-3. $26-$64.