Choreographer Trey McIntyre is adventurous and unpredictable, attributes that serve him well and occasionally get him in trouble.
His Trey McIntyre Project's visit to the Harris Theater Friday certainly glowed with virtues, including freshness--all three works are less than a year old, one unveiled in mid-November.
And the Harris has worked passionately to bring McIntyre's small but appealing group to the venue, evident in the audience's enthusiastic reception. To be sure, one piece, "Bad Winter," is a little masterpiece of craft and imagination, brightened with inventive movement and his fetching musical taste. It's simply a solo followed by a duet, and yet it virtually takes you on an airborne carpet ride via smarts and charm. Chanel DaSilva begins alone, dancing to a scratchy recording of "Pennies From Heaven," that nowadays too-rarely-heard classic, including here its entrancing introduction. DaSilva is inviting and complicated, sexy but forceful, appealing but tough, and McIntyre injects all manner of tiny tricks and surprises to keep the solo engaging--as when she unexpectedly dips and touches the floor with one finger from each hand.
Then comes an unforgettable duet performed by Ashley Werhun and Travis Walker, whose T-shirt is a prop, which partner Werhun manipulates ingeniously. Music from the Cinematic Orchestra, boasting lush, melodic piano, contribute to its thrill, the finish exhilarating and lustrous.
"Ladies and Gentle Men" is McIntyre's elaborate personal response to the album/TV special "Free to Be...You and Me," exploring gender and childhood social hierarchy dating from the "Mad Men" era. The score and dialogue, mostly from the album, also smartly includes Fleet Foxes in its wondrous mix. It's based in a spartan classicism McIntyre spruces with his impish originality, chock full of bright solo moments, duets and engaging mini-dramas. But it overstays its welcome, its burst of Alvin Ailey energy near the end unconvincing, its themes hammered home and redundant.
"The Unkindness of Ravens," including three women guests from the Korean National Contemporary Dance Company, costumes the dancers in black leather, for a dark, metallic romp and performance shtick that includes jokes told from a microphone. It seems unfinished, its new vaudeville not so new and the dance underdeveloped and rambling.