CriticalDance Forum

Whim W'him 2014
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Whim W'him 2014

Michael Upchurch reviews Whim W'him's Friday, January 17, 2014 performance at the Cornish Playhouse for the Seattle Times.

Seattle Times

Author:  Dean Speer [ Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2014

Instantly Bound – Seattle’s Whim W’him
January 17, 2014, Cornish Playhouse

by Dean Speer

An intense shared experience creates a singular kind of camaraderie. This is true for those in the military, those who have taken dance training classes together, those who have laughed together and those who have lost together. It’s a collective experience and a shared, often visceral memory.

Fortifying myself for Whim W’him’s inaugural concert series of 2014, I knew in advance that I’d have to keep myself emotionally distant while watching this show – the first dance being based on the all-too-public shootings of recent years. My parents outlived one of their sons and my deceased brother – who had special needs, sadly experienced his own measure of violence – inflicted both on us and on his person especially while a ward of the state in a mental hospital in which physical attacks by patients on other patients being all too frequent.

One of the greatest challenges of the dancers in Oliver Wevers’ “Instant Bound” was to show the shock and deep level of grief that families experience and must work through in these kind of tragedies – and for Wevers to choreographically tell a story but without being too maudlin. Even in the darkest of stage work, you must leaven some glimmer of hope. I liked how the dance opened with one dancer replacing another in a circle of light and how the cast moved in and out of the action –from being participants to being helpless bystanders. “Instant Bound” tackled topical and difficult subject matter with sensitivity. It was clear that great thought went into the craft of this strong work.

Wevers can also be credited for bringing the work of Spanish choreographer, Juanjo Arques to this country for the first time. Frank about sexual encounters and flirtations, “Crossroads” explores the attempts at connecting emotionally with someone and the re-bounds and re-directions that occur – and the occasional regrets and maturity that happen along the way. Arques used everyday movement, such as walking as part of his dancers’ palette, and then re-invigorated this through deployment of their considerable technique.

“Les Sylphides” is a big and broad target and I’m glad that Wevers didn’t try to mimic the original choreography or costumes or mannerisms of the original Fokine [as others have when making a satirical version]. Only keeping the title and music, he, rather, made a small humorous story of six 20-somethings having a not-too-successful dinner party, interrupted by a hyped-up friend. Ranging from boredom to bedroom to extra-marital discovery by a third party (who started pointing and laughing), the reverie accelerated, though not perhaps quite in the way that the host and hostess had intended as the night wore on and some guests had too much to drink, realizing the honesty of their own relationship was perhaps a fraud – or at least not as solid as they pretended.

Wevers should also be credited with building Whim W’him from the ground floor up, at first using friends and colleagues as dancers and supporting artists but now celebrating 2014 with the launching of hiring eight dancers under contract, a couple of whom who have worked with him in the past. It will be a pleasure to see how this strong core of talented dancers build together Whim W’him’s future presentations.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2014

Choreographer Andrew Bartee is interviewed about his May 2014 new work for Whim W'him by Rachel Gallaher in CityArts.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sun May 11, 2014 9:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2014

In the Seattle Times, Michael Upchurch writes about the continuing evolution of Whim W'him and previews the May 15-20, 2014 performances at Seattle Central College's Erickson Theatre.

Seattle Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed May 14, 2014 8:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2014

In Seattle Met, Seth Sommerfeld interviews Olivier Wevers as a preview to the May 15-20, 2014 performances at Seattle Central College's Erickson Hall.

Seattle Met

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat May 17, 2014 12:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2014

In the Seattle Times, Alice Kaderlan reviews the Thursday, May 15, 2014 performance at Erickson Theatre.

Seattle Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon May 19, 2014 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2014

Marcie Sillman reviews "#unprotected" for her blog.

Marcie Sillman

Author:  Dean Speer [ Tue May 20, 2014 11:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2014

Well Regarded
Whim W’him’s “#unprotected”
Friday, 16 May, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
Erickson Theater Off Broadway, Seattle

by Dean Speer

The intersection of Seattle’s lower Capitol Hill neighborhood at Broadway and Pine has long been a hotbed of creativity and culture, dating back to the original Cornish School building, which still proudly sits upright at the corner of Pine and Broadway, though now “re-purposed.” [Cornish moved about a short mile north to Harvard and Roy in 1920. This is the location that Anna Pavlova visited during one of her three tours that reached pioneering Seattle.]

Down Pine Street only half a block is the venerable former Masonic Temple, now one of the sites of the renowned Seattle International Film Festival, and literally a skip and jump around the corner from what’s become a frequent venue for dance – the 150-seat intimate black box Erickson Theater.

Seattle’s contemporary dance company, Whim W’him, directed by Olivier Wevers, tried out this locale for its Spring 2014 show, enticingly titled “#unprotected.” In this case, it means no use of wings or a backstage crossover – everything is seen by the audience. It’s also a clever way to maximize the use of space – all the dancers I know want and like to move out.

Into this already heady atmosphere, Whim W’him presented three new works by proven associates – Annabelle Lopez Ochoa; Andrew Bartee; and Wevers.

The title of “Les Biches” by Ochoa can refer to deer or in slang it can suggest coquettish women. Its very connotation is layered. Four women in white skull caps and leotards and bare feet [I loved seeing their beautiful feet] and legs, appear as creatures – nearly alien – with very, very long red nails [talons] that also, when occasionally placed over their heads, suggest antlers [which, ironically, only males sport]. With alternating undulating and sharp movement motifs and quickly held feral poses, the four [Geneva Jenkins, Mia Monteabaro, Tory Peil and Lara Seefeldt] vie for hegemony, placate each other and – at the end – group together as one and hide themselves away, so much like actual beasts. Mysterious [moon images and ideas – one half seen and the other always hidden] and unsettling, Ochoa smartly used the dancers' considerable and beautiful technique but as a servant to her dance, not as a display. It was satisfying seeing dance and dancers used in this complementary way.

I’ll say up front that I’m not a big fan of “pedestrian movement.” While I’m not opposed to using natural gesture and wanting pieces to have this texture, I feel that if I want to see this, I can just go outside and observe humanity at work. Typically too, highly trained dancers are underutilized – squandered to so speak, and this bothers me. Bartee’s “I’m here but it’s not the same” could have used anyone off the street. If that was the point, then perhaps that kind of casting could have been explored here, as has been done in the past where choreographers used attorneys in suits with their briefcases on stage, etc.

Beginning with a single line of five dancers facing upstage, during quick blackouts, they incrementally shifted toward center, in an attenuated process. The dancers all wore “hoodies” and fit well into the stark, unadorned setting of the theatre. In theatre parlance, adding things to the stage such as wings, decor is called “dressing” the stage and Bartee’s concept took advantage of the bare, undressed space, suggesting some dangerous urban “hood,” with one dancer in particular shucking the hoodie, going solo but getting reeled back into the gang.

“Above the Cloud”was created by Wevers to the famous Poulenc organ concerto score with its attractive-to-dance-makers driving rhythms and tunes. Glen Tetley’s “Voluntaries” to the same music [made as a tribute to and in response to the passing of John Cranko] was the visual image I had to mentally divorce from my video memory file in order to freshly look at Wevers' new work. I’m happy to report that Wevers' piece – in concept or movement-wise – has no relation to Tetley’s and is a frothy as Tetley’s is serious. That’s not to say we don’t take it seriously and it did have its moments of gravitas; yet, it was overall light fare to conclude the program.

A full-company work, “Above the Cloud” was kinetic, playful, using oversized giant pillows as an interactive prop that the dancers held as comforters in front of them, flounced upon, attempted to nap on, were lifted up upon, and used to create separate rooms of dance space.

Wevers has assembled an amazing pool of company dancers who are very deserving of an accolade and recognition of their hard work and dedication to what has become an exciting new venture of Seattle dance, built on its previous pickup group: Geneva Jenkins; Kyle Johnson; Jim Kent; Mia Monteabaro; Tory Peil; Thomas Phelan; and Lara Seefeldt.

Wevers has revealed that Whim W’him will expand its future offerings to three repertory seasons – a vaulted and exciting venture to look for in the not too distant future.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed May 21, 2014 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Whim W'him 2014

Sandra Kurtz reviews "#unprotected" for the Seattle Weekly.

Seattle Weekly

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