A Prodigal...Returns and Serves
by Dean Speer
January 20, 2013 -- Intiman Theatre, Seattle, Washington
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Crave” made especially for Whim W’him’s January performance season in Seattle’s Initiman Theatre space brought Diablo to my mind as its five dancers worked through what appeared to be their isolation from the outer world – the lighting suggested institutionalized confinement with searchlights circling the back wall and stage floor, often in a group but also attempting to pair off and ultimately pushing over the edge one of their own, Andrew Bartee. The amazing cast roster included Bartee, Jim Kent, Tory Peil, Lucien Postlewaite, and Lara Seefeldt. Each could easily be of soloist rank in any company. Strong technique with calm and centered characterizations and artistic presence.
Ochoa returned periodically to her opening theme of jumping, herky-jerking spastic movement – wrists and heads shaking. Very primal. This then opened up into development of her idea as the dancers moved variously across the stage – sometimes “leaving” the space to observe from the upstage wall, upper bodies slumped in registered depression or abandoned hope.
A powerful work, it’s not exactly clear what the characters were craving except freedom but it was clear they were oppressed and controlled.
My third time viewing Artistic Director Olivier Wevers’ “More” made for Mr. Bartee found me as equally impressed by Bartee’s facility and ability to move from deadly serious [“Crave”] to goofy and light. I only feel sorry for the poor T-shirt that gets ripped apart each performance. Accompanied by an abbreviated version of Ravel’s iconic “Bolero,” Wevers builds, as does Ravel, layer upon layer of color. It’s an engaging piece that represents a twenty-something’s obsession with garments and of being narcissistic.
Ochoa herself and Lucien Postlewaite were featured as the duo soloists in her “Before After” first created for the Dutch National Ballet in June of 2002. I liked its athleticism and surprising attacks of phrases. Ochoa is a formidable dancer, as is Postlewaite [formerly of PNB and now with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo] and seeing the two together was to watch two artists at the top of their game.
“The Sofa” allowed us the joy of introducing us to Grand Rapids Ballet’s Yuka Oba and Nick Schultz, in addition to being a happy group piece with Lara Seefeldt, Bartee, Tory Peil and Shane Ohmer, Amber Willett, and Jim Kent, and Mia Monteabaro, and Kyle Johnson.
Whim W’him continues to attract and grow audience. Plans are for deserved expansion and a debut at the Joyce Theatre in New York later this year.
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