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  • Writer's pictureBen Kemper

Mercury Half-Life

Or: The Last Dance

Of all the rich menagerie of modern dance steps the Trey McIntyre Project trotted out for us in their ten years, none characterized their nature and their style of art more than the Leap ‘n Catch. I cannot count the times down the years, when my breath exploded from my lips as an ensemble member catapulted themselves through the air in a picture of daring, grace and absolute trust that someone would be there to catch them. Mercury Half Life, TMP’s celebration of the electric, eclectic majesty of Queen, is also the company’s parting gift before its dissolution (and hopeful transformation). It offers plenty of leaps and catches, as well as spins, lifts, bounds, and exertions you would not believe these fragile vessels of ours capable of.

As always the company’s dancing prowess is equalled by their skill as storytellers, it’s as striking to see Chanel DaSilva (the self-assured and smiling centerpiece of many dances) and Brett Perry (the tap dancing soloist) encounter each other with the same peculiar set of feet bonding in song after song, incarnation after incarnation, as it is to see DaSilva fly, feet first, across a space three queen sized beds in length and fit neatly into her partners waiting arms. Whether in the appropriately pulsing “Another One Bites the Dust” or the whimsical “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon”, this Mitchellesque through-line between the two eldest company members proved a fine base to hang so many wonderful dances be it the stone faced triumph of “We are the Champions”, the vaudevillian joy of “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” or the cool and collected winnowing in “Under Pressure.”

Alas, as tightly as each of these homages were tied together, as clearly as they were painted, I cannot find it in my powers to pin down the last diminishing portion of grace, this last offering of the beloved company. Even as my heart rhumbaed and my mouth hung open swinging in the wind, my untamed thoughts never quite stopped mourning the dances, even as they took them in. I was going to a performance and felt like I was at a funeral for a generous and beloved individual who had given so much to my community and the world at large and who moreover had been a dear friend to me.

But if this was a funeral, that what a eulogy it had! In the slink of “Killer Queen”, the overblown and ardent abuse of “Love of my Life” and the sheer epic scope of “Bohemian Rhapsody” I saw the same love of play, the same finessing of relationships, and the same willingness to embody the vibrancy and power of music in evidence in all TMP’s work. Mercury Half-Life is one of McIntyre’s great successes. When DaSilva and Perry broke their last foot affair while Freddy Mercury sang “Nothing Really Matters to Me” and slipped into the line of the company, arms bonded hand to elbow, “rocking” their way off into the darkness, these two peepers misted over. But if there were tears in my eyes than at least there was rhythm in my heart and the cry of heartfelt thanks already perched on my lips.

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