CriticalDance Forum

Whim W'him 2013
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:02 am ]
Post subject:  Whim W'him 2013

Alice Kaderlan interviews artistic director Olivier Wevers as a preview to Whim W'him's January 18-20, 2013 performances at the Seattle Center Playhouse.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2013

Michael Upchurch reviews the Friday, January 18, 2013 performance of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's "Before After" and "Crave More" and Olivier Wevers' "The Sofa" and "More" for the Seattle Times.

Seattle Times

Author:  Dean Speer [ Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2013

A Prodigal...Returns and Serves
Whim W’him – 20 January 2013, Intiman Theatre, Seattle

by Dean Speer

One of the most beautiful places in Western Washington is also one of the most desolate – appropriately named, Diablo. Of immense beauty, the wind also never ceases and the local Indians thought that it led into another world, perhaps the portal to gods and goddesses. It’s also as far as salmon could naturally go upstream. Now a small hamlet – a company town built, owned, and operated by Seattle City Light, Diablo Dam and the lake it created behind it are imbued with the mystery, power, and aura that comes with that magical place. A place both uplifting and beautiful yet potentially frightening and dangerous. Truly other-worldly.

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.

Premiered by Grand Rapids Ballet in April of last year, “The Sofa” has as its premise dancers presenting various phases of what a couch experiences, acting somewhat like a Greek Chorus, with its joys, flirtations, angst, and slumming around. At the conclusion, the sofa itself is lifted up into the flies, perhaps to suggest it’s time to be re-upholstered. The program note states, in part, “The Sofa bears the weight of our relationships.” I like too Patricia Barker’s own note: “The Sofa in all its life, humor, shadows, and passion is like a small window into Olivier’s life.” Barker commissioned this work for her Grand Rapids Ballet and is a longtime former colleague of Wevers when they both were stars of Pacific Northwest Ballet.

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.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat May 18, 2013 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2013

Michael Upchurch reviews the Friday, May 17, 2013 performance of "Third Degree" for the Seattle Times.

Seattle Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue May 21, 2013 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2013

Anna Waller reviews the Friday, May 17, 2013 performance of "Third Degree" for Seattle Dances.

Seattle Dances

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue May 21, 2013 7:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2013

Michael van Baker reviews Whim W'him for the Sun Break.

Sun Break

Author:  Dean Speer [ Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2013

By Degrees
Whim W’him’s Third Degreeº Program, 17 May 2013
Playhouse at Seattle Center

by Dean Speer

One of our dear colleagues commented on how she enjoyed so much seeing the progress of choreographers over the years of their respective development. This is certainly true of the creative career path of Whim W’him’s founder, Olivier Wevers. From his earliest in-studio presentations to showcases at Pacific Northwest Ballet designed to show off and give a forum for unburnished talent, Wevers has repeatedly shown fresh ideas and growth. Like so many creative artists, some are “mainstage” worthy and ready, while others are perfect for the smaller venues that his company enjoys, while a handful of others were useful exercises in climbing up the ladder of mastery. This is normal. Very, very rarely does perfect choreography spring out, fully formed, from the head of Zeus and even mature and very renowned and respected established dance makers can occasionally land us a dud. That’s part of what makes the creative process so exciting, as it involves risks and, quite literally, leaps of faith.

Each of Wevers’ recent programs have produced at least one mainstage-ready piece. Perhaps, without even realizing it, he’s also now providing a leg-up for inexperienced choreographers – in this program, the young Andrew Bartee.

Olivier Wevers is blessed to work with a group of very talented dancers who bring this deep talent to each of Whim W’him’s shows. "Third Degree" – the latest program -- presented three shorter works and an entirely new one by Wevers.

The first piece, “This Is Real” by Andrew Bartee, is about combative and scrappy relationships – in this case between two women and a man. Set to an original sound score by Lena Simon and with a very creative lighting design by Oregon Ballet Theatre’s resident designer, Michael Mazzola, Bartee’s work impressed as being very theatrical, serious, good and, as I earlier mentioned, a good experience for him. Dancers Sergey Kheylik, Mia Monteabaro, and Tory Peil were outstanding and beautiful – their experience and maturity reflected in their execution and commitment to the dance.

One of the best of Wevers’ oeuvre, “Fragments,” plays on Mozart operatic vocal excerpts, including from the iconic ‘Magic Flute.’ Conceptually and choreographically nearly perfect in every way, its strength lies not just in its invention but in carrying that thread throughout. It surprises with depth via a solo to ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ for the amazing Jesse Sani. One of the choirs I was in used to sing this, and I can tell you it was always a heartfelt and musical joy every time. I could easily see this in Sani’s solo – someone reaching into their soul and perhaps up to God for peace, comfort, and resolution. The work concludes happily with a coda for the two dancers, Sani and the equally amazing Lara Seefeldt.

Concluding the first half, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s 2010 solo creation, “L’Effleure,” seemed tailor-made for Bartee whose flexibility, extension, and control are unreal. A signature of Ochoa’s work is centering it around something, providing a thread or springboard. In this case it was richly colored red roses, one for each hand and for holding in his teeth. The use of the hands impressed me greatly as being like his playing castanets – very expressive and quite engaging to watch. Willam Christensen once said – within earshot – ...”in order to make good dances, you have to have good dancers.” This seems like a well, of course! statement, yet not that many have this opportunity. Ochoa’s work, already good, is elevated by the level of performance that Bartee can give it and it’s hard to imagine it being done by anybody else.

I’ve come to believe that all choreography is – more or less – autobiographical and this is pointedly made on purpose with Wevers' new “I Don’t Remember A Spark.” He uses the opportunity to partly explain his process, using an original score interpolated with his self commentary and graced by dancers Bartee, Sergey Kheylik, Mia Monteabaro, Lara Seefeldt, and Tory Peil. He builds the dance well and knows how to make it interesting. My only suggestion would be – as personal as it may be – to cut back on the verbal commentary and let the dance speak for itself more.

Wevers has worked hard and has a good thing going and the greater Seattle region is benefitted by his persistence and continued devotion to producing evenings of fascinating dance through the vehicle of Whim W’him.

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