Turning the world upside down

Smuin Ballet’s 2010-11 season launches with the world premiere of “Oh, Inverted World,” a piece created for the company by celebrated choreographer Trey McIntyre.

Set to the music of the same title by indie-rock band The Shins, the dance shares the program with two of the company’s repertory works, “Bluegrass/Slyde” and “Brahms-Haydn Variations,” and runs Friday through Oct. 9 at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Other than his own company, Trey McIntyre Project, Smuin Ballet is the first to debut a piece by McIntyre.

“There aren’t a lot of companies I can work with in the way that I need to as an artist,” McIntyre says. “In 2009, I saw [Smuin] do ‘The Naughty Boy’ and got a taste of how they work. Their degree of openness and curiosity immediately struck me. They get — and I get — why they’re there in the first place.”

Known for his quirky, theatrical and insightful choreography, McIntyre requires a commitment from his dancers that often takes them into uncharted territory.

“A lot of times, [the work] comes from the most surprising, embarrassing, vulnerable place. We’re constantly trying to get out of the way of ego — of trying to impress or outdo ourselves, and just to get to the essence of where we all stand as human beings at this point in time,” he says.

“Oh, Inverted World” was born out of a difficult period in McIntyre’s early 30s when the Shins’ album served as the soundtrack for an intense and brief love affair.

“Music sits with me for a number of years until I get to a [point] of understanding and feel I have something to add,” he says. “On one hand the piece simply speaks to the power of this music — how complex and gorgeous it is. But after [the affair] I was left asking, ‘What did I just do to myself? What were all the things I gave up?’ So, now, 10 years later, I wanted to go back and examine those ideas … to see what still stays with me and what I’ve grown past. I wanted to dig through those feelings and see what came up.”

Although he’s considered at the vanguard of a new direction in dance, McIntyre sees what he does as part of a cultural shift taking place throughout the entire arts scene.

“People today want to have an experience that cuts to something that’s real, something authentic. It’s an exciting time to be alive,” he says.

IF YOU GO

Smuin Ballet fall program

Where: Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Oct. 5-8, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Oct. 9

Tickets: $20 to $62

Contact: (415) 978-2787, www.smuinballet.org

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