“Mercury Half-Life” was more typical of McIntyre: an energetic rock ballet, performed to songs by the British band Queen. (Yes, “We Are the Champions” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” but also such lesser-known gems as “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy,” “Love of My Life” and “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon.”) Frontman Freddie Mercury had one of the greatest voices of all time, and it was not just a nostalgic thrill to hear it again, well-amplified and soaring to the rafters. Paired with the dancers’ airborne twists and rebounds, this was an intensely invigorating experience, leaving you with a full-body thrum even as you stepped into the wet grass afterward. The stylistic range and complexity of Queen’s music is as good an expression as any for this crazy little thing called life (to paraphrase Mercury), which seemed to be McIntyre’s rather broad point here. That, and the loneliness you can feel even when surrounded by stadium-filling vocals and other dancers and you’re stuck, for instance, in a solo tap dance, just you and the void and your echoing steps.
Uneasiness is McIntyre’s enduring subject. In “Mercury Half-Life,” his dancers whipped themselves into mini rainstorms of sweat, their red-and-white jackets flapping around them like nets. Chanel DaSilva kicked her leg to her ear and caught the foot in one hand; she stayed there, balanced at full extension, while you held your breath. They do not make these feats look easy. They show us the effort. There is a certain honesty in that.
I’ll miss Trey McIntyre Project, for its original works that dive into life’s dark side and don’t resolve easily. All kinds of crazy little things have found vivid expression in McIntyre’s hands. I’m eager to see what he does next.”
“As the title suggests, “Half-Life” is a celebration of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS at 45, but it’s also an unabashed gala showcasing these striking dancers. A series of solos and small groups (whooshing breathlessly by, a McIntyre trademark) are augmented occasionally by gathering-of-the-troops ensemble pieces, simple formations pulsing with march-like struts or high-kneed jogs. Though Perry and Chanel DaSilva, two longtime company members are, as always, superb, the others stand in no one’s shadow.
T is for Trey who is just terrific, and for thanks, for the memories.”
“Pop ballets shouldn’t make news any more, but McIntyre’s simply light up the stage in the West Coast premiere. This one starts with a nifty tap solo by Brett Perry, dressed, like his nine colleagues, as if he were running off to a cricket match. Invention runs high in the carefully contrasting duets and ensembles. The parts are pleasing; fluid lifts, solo turns, push-pull antics and transitory courtships prevail. But McIntyre knits it all up into a seamless tapestry of high energy and kinetic wit. His full ensembles digging down in unison assume a character all their own and the stage empties and refills with the fluidity of, well … mercury.”
“In Mercury Half-Life, which occupied the second half of the program, McIntyre runs his company – all 10 of them eager and exceptionally skilled—through an obstacle course of the Queen glam-rock cannon.
In crisp whites (men in short shorts, women in short skirts, all in reversible tailored jackets that flip to red) the dancers look like a marching band-cum-cheerleading squad, which the choreography’s symmetrical compositions, frequent group lifts and presentational “Look at me!” spirit supports. (An occasionally intricate duet hints at McIntyre’s capacity for developing more nuanced relationships.)
Here, as in The Vinegar Works, dancer Brett Perry acts as a sort of an emcee; in the first work, he shrugs, pouts, gestures and spins with marvelous speed and precision. In Mercury Half-Life, he taps and scuffs around the stage with vim. In both, he’s the consummate showman. In other words, he’s like Trey McIntyre.
As with other TMP works I’ve seen, the program at Jacob’s Pillow felt authentic in that the work is exactly what we see, no more. You don’t get the impression of deeper layers or subtle commentary (on life, relationships, society, whatever) or larger metaphors. It is dance as entertainment, which sounds obvious and easy but, on the concert stage and in the world of contemporary dance, is actually rare and difficult.”
“Lucky for us, dance is regenerative. I left the theater exhilarated, and grateful, and it wasn’t just because of the music, though that was extraordinary in both works. The exhilaration came from being swept up in the visual, visceral joy of human connection that Liang, McIntyre and Webre celebrate in this program.
McIntyre’s “Mercury Half-Life” was a fitting cap to Webre’s tenure, since one of Webre’s first commissions at the company was a McIntyre work (“Blue Until June”), back in 2000. McIntyre’s quirky, full-body expressiveness has always been a good fit for the company, but here it showed off the dancers in new ways. With his nimble tap solos, Daniel Roberge exactly captured the playfully retro, music-hall quality of the song “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy.” His understated demeanor lent just the right touch without overselling. The whole cast amazed; how did only 10 dancers, generally grouped in smaller numbers, capture and enhance the energy of Queen’s fiery stadium rock?
This was one of the last works McIntyre choreographed for his own company before disbanding it in 2014, and it is subtly layered with complicated emotions. Duets are slippery and unresolved, solos are fractured. “This our last dance,” we hear Mercury and Bowie sing in Queen’s recording of “Under Pressure” — the two muses of the evening, eerily joined. That line felt like a warning, but also encouragement: to keep the dance going.”