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Dance card: News and notes of a choreographic persuasion

By Barry Johnson

July 18, 2014

Portland embraced choreographer Trey McIntyre during his stint as resident choreographer here in 1999—some of the bright contemporary dances he made then are still in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s repertoire (Like a Samba, Speak)and are invariably greeted warmly, and more recent contributions, such as Robust American Love, have continued the relationship.

When McIntyre started his own company, the Trey McIntyre Project, one of his co-founders was OBT dancer Anne Mueller, who as managing director helped guide what was a summer pick-up project through its first few years. She didn’t make the jump with McIntyre to Boise in 2008, but she was there for one of the company’s last performances at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival at the end of June.

“I thought this was a past chapter,” Mueller said last week, “but then I went and it was very emotional—in a fabulous way.”

Anne Mueller and John Michael Schert/ Photo by Jonas Lundqvist

Anne Mueller and John Michael Schert/ Photo by Jonas Lundqvist

I asked her about the New York Times story about McIntyre’s decision to close the company, and she confirmed its accuracy. McIntyre was tired of the pressure and amount of effort it takes to run and keep a touring dance company afloat. He’s rather introverted to begin with, which makes it even harder. He had lots of other creative ideas that he couldn’t pursue (film, photography, writing), and his original “team,” Mueller and John Michael Schert, had moved on.

“It’s worked really well, on a number of levels, and we’ve been able to innovate, but in the end, that level of output is just not sustainable,” McIntyre told the Times’ Marina Harss. That “level of output” was 20 dance works during the past six years, a phenomenal creative burst, especially for someone also responsible for running a dance company.

Not that McIntyre is going to stop making dances: He will return to the freelance choreographer’s life, including an evening-length Peter Pan for Queensland Ballet in Australia, which very well might look wonderful in Portland.

Mueller has just about completed her first year as managing director of Bag & Baggage, the Hillsboro theater company known for the imaginative flights of founder Scott Palmer. She hasn’t stepped away from dance since leaving her post as interim artistic director at OBT, though. She’s continued to dance, teach, choreograph and set dances on various companies. She’ll head to Tulsa this fall to set Nicolo Fonte’s Bolero on Tulsa Ballet, for example. So yes, endings lead to new beginnings.


Last week I wrote about the first program of Conduit’s Dance+ festival, and I felt obliged to point out that the fourth floor studio can get a little on the warm side. Well, Conduit has brought in some air conditioners to help cool things off, and in any case this weekend is considerably cooler than last weekend.

Two more incentives: 1) Conduit will give you a free popsicle when you arrive (again, trying to keep things cool!); and 2) we’re hearing that Kyle Marshall’s solo, Soundboard, is amazing. You can get tickets online for the 8 pm shows, Friday and Saturday nights at Conduit, 918 SW Yamhill St.


Northwest Dance Project is featuring new work by the two winners of its sixth annual Pretty Creatives International Choreographic Competition, Lesley Telford and Eric Handman, on Saturday night at PSU’s Lincoln Hall. Both Telford and Handman have terrific dance resumes: Telford has danced and choreographed for Netherlands Dans Theater, for example, and Handman has worked with a host of big name New York choreographers and teaches now at University of the Utah. Doors open at 7, dance begins at 7:30 on Saturday at Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park.


Linda Austin’s Performance Works Northwest is hosting a summer party Saturday night at its studio, 4625 SE 67th Ave. Between 6:30 and 10 pm, Austin and such dancers as Luke Gutgsell, Noel Plemmons, Danielle Ross and Grace Hwang will improvise to music by Douglas Detrick and Ben Kates. Then there’s the video component, which will fill up the walls of the studio and an installation/performance by Jin Camou in a vintage Silver Streak trailer. Then things cool off (or heat up) with a dance party until midnight. It’s all free, including beverages and snacks! Such a deal.

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