Uneasiness is McIntyre’s enduring subject. In “Mercury Half-Life,” his dancers whipped themselves into mini rainstorms of sweat, their red-and-white jackets flapping around them like nets. Chanel DaSilva kicked her leg to her ear and caught the foot in one hand; she stayed there, balanced at full extension, while you held your breath. They do not make these feats look easy. They show us the effort. There is a certain honesty in that.
’ll miss Trey McIntyre Project, for its original works that dive into life’s dark side and don’t resolve easily. All kinds of crazy little things have found vivid expression in McIntyre’s hands. I’m eager to see what he does next.”
T is for Trey who is just terrific, and for thanks, for the memories.”
In crisp whites (men in short shorts, women in short skirts, all in reversible tailored jackets that flip to red) the dancers look like a marching band-cum-cheerleading squad, which the choreography’s symmetrical compositions, frequent group lifts and presentational “Look at me!” spirit supports. (An occasionally intricate duet hints at McIntyre’s capacity for developing more nuanced relationships.)
Here, as in The Vinegar Works, dancer Brett Perry acts as a sort of an emcee; in the first work, he shrugs, pouts, gestures and spins with marvelous speed and precision. In Mercury Half-Life, he taps and scuffs around the stage with vim. In both, he’s the consummate showman. In other words, he’s like Trey McIntyre.
As with other TMP works I’ve seen, the program at Jacob’s Pillow felt authentic in that the work is exactly what we see, no more. You don’t get the impression of deeper layers or subtle commentary (on life, relationships, society, whatever) or larger metaphors. It is dance as entertainment, which sounds obvious and easy but, on the concert stage and in the world of contemporary dance, is actually rare and difficult.”
McIntyre’s “Mercury Half-Life” was a fitting cap to Webre’s tenure, since one of Webre’s first commissions at the company was a McIntyre work (“Blue Until June”), back in 2000. McIntyre’s quirky, full-body expressiveness has always been a good fit for the company, but here it showed off the dancers in new ways. With his nimble tap solos, Daniel Roberge exactly captured the playfully retro, music-hall quality of the song “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy.” His understated demeanor lent just the right touch without overselling. The whole cast amazed; how did only 10 dancers, generally grouped in smaller numbers, capture and enhance the energy of Queen’s fiery stadium rock?
This was one of the last works McIntyre choreographed for his own company before disbanding it in 2014, and it is subtly layered with complicated emotions. Duets are slippery and unresolved, solos are fractured. “This our last dance,” we hear Mercury and Bowie sing in Queen’s recording of “Under Pressure” — the two muses of the evening, eerily joined. That line felt like a warning, but also encouragement: to keep the dance going.”