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Other Blogs: The Trey McIntyre Project Ends

Posted May 5th, 2014

Dance USA recently posted an article about the announced end of the Trey McIntyre Project, the dance company which is based in Boise, Idaho, and has been a vehicle for choreographer Trey McIntyre to create new work under the guise of his own company. The company, founded in the unlikely locale of Boise, became very popular there. As journalist Karyn D. Collins observes:

“When The New York Times sent a reporter to the McIntyre Project’s home base in Boise for a week in 2010, it marveled at the almost rock star treatment the company enjoyed there. ‘Imagine an alternative universe where dancers are treated like celebrities: recognized in public, lavished with gifts, fawned over by fans. They even have cocktails named after them. Now get out your atlas and locate Boise, Idaho, where the skies never seem to cloud over, the people are disconcertingly friendly, and Trey McIntyre Project is the toast of the town,’ the story said. The city of Boise named the company its first cultural ambassador and Boise State University renovated its theater for the troupe’s performances.”

That McIntyre is ending this cultural love affair raising interesting issues about the relationship between a town and its art makers. We often criticize cities that don’t properly support the arts and certain celebrated local artists–but what about the reverse? Do not artists who have benefited from the embrace of a community have the obligation to continue that relationship? The Project was not started as a long-term company but as “project,” and as Collins quotes McIntyre, “For me personally, as an artist, it was the end of what I thought I was capable of in the structure of a full-time company. I have reached places I didn’t think I was capable of. But I always knew there would be an end. Internally, we’ve been talking about this for the last couple of years.”

There may be something slightly disingenuous about this–in blunter terms, you might simply call this a “career move,” which conveniently fits into following one’s muse. (And if this were an “internal” discussion, what was being said “externally?”) But it puts into perspective a number of interesting issues, which Collins touches upon: Is this a typical career structure for a successful modern-day choreographer not to put roots in any one place for too long? One necessitated, or perhaps suggested, by the economy of dance? And if so, who is left to build that artistic community and audience, if we simply have a fly-by-night artists’ culture?

Just like the troubles of being a one-factory town, it is necessary for cities to diversify their artistic and cultural support as much as possible, so when one “star” organization leaves, another is quickly ready to take its place. Even in Philadelphia, with the Philadelphia Theater Company’s recent building foreclosure problems, this diversification is clearly not happening, and there is too much betting on the “big” guys (even though what constitutes as “big” in theater and dance is still pretty small). If PTC went under, who is ready to assume their space, both physically and productions-wise? No current theater company, regardless of its talent, is ready to make that leap financially or administratively. And if you lop off PTC, it makes that whole “Avenue of the Arts” corridor much, much smaller, throwing into relief how relatively few venues and organizations of that size there actually are, and how the downing of one of its flagships makes the whole notion of an arts corridor quite vulnerable.

And as far artists, when they get up and go, having received all the favors of a community, regardless of motivation, you can hardly expect to be cultivating a trust between communities and artists. Read the whole Dance USA article here.

–Leo Krass