Chicago Dance Digest

Chicago Dance Digest is devoted to bringing you the latest news and events from Chicago's dance scene. Emily is a lifelong dancer and writer, and current dance critic for Clef Notes Concert Journal for the Arts, who has created Chicago Dance Digest, a blog devoted entirely to dance in Chicago. Thank you for stopping by!
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TMP’s Benjamin Behrends, Ryan Redmond, and Travis Walker in “Ladies and Gentle Men.”

The Boise-based Trey McIntyre Project unwrapped a series of creative surprises during last night’s performance at Harris Theater. Three disparate works unfolded, each showcasing choreographer Trey McIntyre’s inventive craftsmanship.

Opening the evening was the edgy, yet playful, “The Unkindness of Ravens.” This collaboration between TMP and Korea National Contemporary Dance Company, evolved from TMP’s touring in Asia, as part of DanceMotion USA last summer. Three dancers from KNCDC—An Lee Chang, Tae Hee Kim, and So Jin Lee—seamlessly integrate with TMP’s Brett Perry and Ryan Redmond. This unexpected invention incorporates stylized ravens’ wings, which hyperbolize the limbs, helping convey alternately menacing and frisky messages. While the spoken jokes mostly fell flat, the dancers impressed with their tireless gusto throughout the quirky number.

TMP followed with “Bad Winter,” which couples two seemingly disconnected pieces that tug at the viewer’s emotions. It opens with Chanel DaSilva commanding the stage in a white entertainer’s jacket, delivering heavy pantomime. The piece evokes a vaudevillian pathos, as DaSliva performs to “Pennies from Heaven.” Only the lagging spotlight (which seems to chase, rather than stay with DaSilva) detracts from the moving performance.

Travis Walker and Ashley Werhun immediately follow with a beautiful, melancholy duet. McIntyre choreographs gorgeous and unusual body shapes throughout, intertwining bodies in interesting ways. Walker and Werhun dance are gorgeous together, their movements growing with desperation as the work culminates in tragic climax.

Finally, TMP performed the much buzzed-about “Ladies and Gentle Men,” McIntyre’s interpretation of the 1970s children’s TV show “Free to Be, You and Me.” McIntyre finds a suitable balance between the literal and figurative in his interpretation of the television show and the values it promoted. This exploration of gender roles and relationships features dancers enacting narrative vignettes, or more abstractly communicating emotions and themes. While often times “Ladies and Gentle Men” is as cute as much of its musical score, serious undercurrents peek out. Ultimately, the shedding of the 1950s-style dresses and suits segues into a highly spirited ending segment performed in vibrant multi-colored leotards. The piece is great fun and beautiful to watch.

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You can learn more about TMP, their history, and their work with DanceMotion USA from this interview with Executive Director John Michael Schert, or by visiting the TMP site.