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ACT II: A closer look at area stages — The Trey McIntyre Project

Trey McIntyre's “Ladies” “Gentle Men” was inspired by  1970s’ “Free Be You Me” original record book  TV special.

Trey McIntyre's “Ladies” and “Gentle Men” was inspired by the 1970s’ “Free to Be, You and Me” original record, book and TV special.

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Updated: December 26, 2012 6:10AM

Boise, Idaho, might not be the first place you’d expect to find a top-notch contemporary dance company whose artistic director has earned high marks as a choreographer of 90 works for both his own widely traveled troupe, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the New York City Ballet.

But in 2008, after three years as a summer touring company that debuted at the Vail International Dance Festival, the Trey McIntyre Project was established as a year-round entity. And, as McIntyre put it, “I also had the luxury of deciding where I wanted to live. Many voices said ‘New York,’ but I had a hard time finding a compelling reason to put another company in an already very well-served place. And I liked the notion of being a pioneer. We’d performed in Boise for three years. And it has a gorgeous 2,000-seat opera house we can fill.”

The Trey McIntyre Project makes its Chicago debut at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, this week (Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 1 at 2 p.m., plus a special “Eat to the Beat” program at noon Nov. 30). It will feature three works by the Kansas-bred McIntyre, who is noted for the athleticism, wit and accessibility of his choreography. Here’s how he describes them:

“The Unkindness of Ravens”: “In 2012 we toured the Philippines, Vietnam, China and South Korea as part of a State Department program. I subsequently chose three dancers from the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company to work with my dancers on a piece that would acknowledge our cross-cultural exploration without making any big, sweeping statements. I discovered that the folklore about ravens was similar in both cultures. Ravens are scrappy birds and one of the few creatures in addition to humans with a sense of humor. The score is a mix, but part of it is a looped recording of Korean moms praying at a Buddhist temple for their kids to do well on school entrance exams.”

“Bad Winter”: “This solo and a duet emerged from a tough period in my personal life that involved epic changes. I opened rehearsals so people could watch me choreographing.”

“Ladies” and “Gentle Men”: “Though inspired by the 1970s’ ‘Free to Be, You and Me,’ this piece is not a literal rendering of the original record, book and TV special. It’s my interpretation of how the songs and stories made me feel as a child, and how I feel about them now as I look back and assess their influence on me.”

For tickets, call (312) 334-7777 or visit

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