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  • Review: Whim W’him—3 Seasons

    Whim W'Him's 3Seasons, Kaori Nakamura


    Olivier Wevers and his newly formed company, Whim W’him have done what no other dancer, choreographer or company has done before. The Seattle-based tour de force has shattered the glass barricade that once stood as the dividing wall between the world of ballet and the realm of modern dance, ushering in a new era of collaboration and artistry.

    Whim W’him’s sold-out performances at On the Boards this past weekend packed an intoxicating punch of sound, light and movement. The triple bill featured Wevers previous works, X-Stasis (PNB’s Choreographer’s Showcase 2006) and Fragments (Spectrum Dance Theatre 2007), as well as the world premiere of 3 Seasons, Wevers first major collaborative effort.


    X-Stasis is comprised of 5 couples making a unique statement about their world and their relationship to one another. Standouts from this performance include Jonathan Poretta and Lucien Postlewaite’s pas de deux which sizzled with poetic tension. Their execution was both complimentary and contradictory; a raw, edgy rendition of the proverbial yin and yang.

    Whim W'Him's X-Stasis, Jonathan Poretta & Lucien Postlewaite


    Chalnessa Eames dazzled in a delightful piece that felt a bit like an avant-garde rendition of Coppelia. Let’s just say her partner, the helpless mannequin, was no match for her seductive charms!

    Kaori Nakamura and guest artist, Karel Cruz (PNB Principal Dancer) were utterly spectacular. Their pairing was exuberant, crisp and well-balanced; the perfect blend of power, delicacy and joy.


    Fragments begins with a sweeping aria playfully mimicked by an amusing pair of friends. Kelly Ann Barton’s (Spectrum Dance Theater) and Vincent Lopez’s movements were light, fluttering, and beautifully in sync. Together they encompassed all that is childlike and well--whimsical, from their “twittering” hip rolls, to their playful dashing about the stage.

    Whim W'Him's Fragments


    Following the playful antics, Vincent Lopez gave a commanding solo performance as a tortured soul, longing and yearning to be free. Moving effortlessly through a series of well-crafted poses, Lopez is transformed into a living sculpture, relishing in its temporary freedom. Costumes by Christine Joly de Lotbiniere provided a delicious hint of Baroque flair, while Michael Mazzola’s thoughtful lighting cast the entire piece in a distinct, Renaissance glow.

    Last but not least, was 3 Seasons.

    Never have I seen such a decisive take on our modern world that fused together the elements of style, wit, humor and hope so beautifully.  In fact, I have a feeling that this piece will serve as the springboard by which all other collaborative efforts will be judged, and provide Whim W’him with a prominent position in the annals of dance history.

    The musical score consists of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons paired with a live corresponding movement by Byron Au Yong, which was nothing short of perfection. The tinkling of a toy piano, the hum of the violin and gentle percussion created a fun, exciting, youthful energy.

    Designer Michael Cepress’ vision of pairing vibrant splashes of red on ruddy, human earth tone canvasses provided the perfect backdrop for this piece. The use of his re-designed sculptural collars, wire hanger skirts, and sullied leotards made for a stunning artistic display.



    Jim Kent’s portrayal of the covetousness of human nature was thrilling. The object of his desire changes with whatever is put before him; a pillow, a lamp, a keyboard to finally a bird cage, which has to be placed on his head because there’s no more room in his hands. Kent—like society itself—is never content with what he already has, and is continuously seeking, grasping, and vying for more. The act was played for humor which the audience responded with more than a few “been there, done that” laughs.

    Kaori Nakamura is used, abused and finally discarded and yet—she still manages to come out looking like the victor. Her stage presence leaves its own indelible mark of beauty behind.

    Chalnessa Eames was effervescent and sensual. Vincent Lopez was completely brilliant and charming. Jonathan Poretta and Lucien Postlewaite were riveting, powerful, dominating, and fierce.

    Ty Alexander Cheng and Kylie Lewallen were saucy, flirty and breathtaking. Their endless kiss reminded me of a pair of butterflies; lips locked with wings (arms) continually unfurling yet never intertwining.

    Hannah Lagerway and Lucien Postlewaite writhed about in geometric splendor. I was impressed with Postlewaite’s skillful control and Lagerway’s incredible range. Indeed, her presence within this company is the icing on the cake.

    With everything this company has going for it—excellent dancers, respected Artistic Director, dedicated fan base, and a growing list of collaborators—Whim W’him stands poised on the edge of a divine precipice, ready to be launched into the stratosphere.

    Congratulations to you, Mr. Wevers and to your talented team of artists.

    Viva Whim W’him!

    by Denise Opper

    Media Relations:  Vala Dancewear / Class Act Tutu

    All photos © LaVie Photography.  For more amazing photos, visit the LaVie photo blog.


    In our forth and final installment, Whim W’him Artistic Director, Olivier Wevers reveals some of the new reps we can look forward to seeing this year, the dancers who inspire him most, and shares his candid advice for budding artistic directors!

    Chalnessa Eames, Whim W'Him


    Vala:  What sort of reps can we look forward to seeing next year from Whim W’him?
    Olivier:  There’s a lot in my head. When we talk collaborations, I have some burlesque shows I’m interested in working on. I’ve been trying to create a piece with The Esoterics (local choir) with new compositions, too. Really, anything that’s kind of artistic. I don’t know what exactly yet, but I would like to create a Faust, about 45 minutes long. It would be a cross between the story of Faust and a picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde. That’s my next story piece that I’m really seriously considering right now.
    Vala:  Now that would be really interesting to see! So, on a more personal level what sort of dancers, artists, choreographers, or musicians inspire you most?
    Olivier:  That’s an interesting question. What I look for in a dancer or composer or an artist, is someone that can bring something to the plate; someone who has their own voice that will complete the process. I’m not looking for people that I can give steps to and just have them do it. I’m looking for someone who will enhance the whole process.
    Actually some of the dancers I picked are those that I haven’t worked with personally, but I enjoyed watching them. I’d seen them perform and they were so fantastic, and now I’m so excited I get to play with their talent basically. But most of the other dancers were ones I had worked with previously and had inspired me in some way.
    When it came to the composers and people like that, I took a little bit of a risk because I didn’t know them well. But I could tell after a few meetings that there was something there. They were bringing something in and they were challenging my ideas. They were challenging the whole concept! And that, right away, told me that these are the people I want to work with. I don’t want someone that’s just going to do their job the way I asked them to do it. I want someone who will bring in ideas and be willing to explore.
    Vala:  How do you personally keep growing as an artist, and what sort of advice would you give others in this business or to those who may want to get started in this line of work?
    Olivier:  (Deep inhale) Don’t do it! (Laughing) No, it’s really the next step I needed to make. Otherwise I think my artistry would’ve died somehow. It really challenges me and I question myself every day. You know, as a dancer you’re always so insecure. As a choreographer, you’re even more insecure. As a dancer, people will tell you what you did wrong—your turnout or whatever. But as a choreographer, people will just walk away if they don’t like what you’re doing. But this is the right step for me; I needed this so I could grow as an artist. This is also pushing me a little bit. It would’ve been easier to become complacent with what I could do as a (commissioned) choreographer because I wasn’t taking as many risks as I am now. But taking risks is really inspiring me. It makes me want to get out there and work with even more people.

    Jim Kent, Whim W'Him


    Vala:  So who is your dream artist to work with, either as a dancer or choreographer?
    Olivier:  Hmm, I don’t know if I could pick just one. I mean there are so many—both dancers and choreographers that I would love to work with. Not just as a dancer but also who I would love to see work with the (Whim W’him) dancers.
    (Pauses) Wendy Whelan. I love her, I absolutely love her! That would be so amazing. Whenever I see her dance, I’m always so moved. She’s such an artist. But there are so many others, I mean the list would be so long! But if I had to mention one, it would definitely be Wendy.
    Vala:  You’re right. Everything she does is just spectacular. That would be an amazing partnership! Now, Olivier you have received several awards for your choreographic work. Which of those pieces are you most proud of?
    Olivier:  Well, there are two pieces I’m bringing back that I was very proud of and I’m very happy to get to work on again. One of the pieces is one I originally choreographed for PNB’s Choreographer’s Showcase four years ago called X-Stasis. I’m putting some Spectrum dancers in there to change the cast a little bit. Then the other work is one I did for Spectrum called Fragments….
    Vala:  I saw that one!
    Olivier:  Oh you did? Did you see it a few months ago with one boy and one girl?
    Vala:  Yes! I saw it during the Byrd Retrospective a few months ago. It was terrific.
    Olivier:  Yes! So Kelly-Ann and Vincent will be doing that piece. The costumes are getting completely redesigned because (laughing) I was never happy with those costumes! Because again--we had no money so we had to come up with something. So this time around, someone is designing costumes for them and I’m very happy to be re-doing it.
    Vala:  I must say that I really enjoyed that piece. I especially loved how you incorporated the arias into it. It made everything really fun and unique.
    Olivier:  Well, I love Mozart! Those arias are so great and I was thinking, “I’m never going to get to choreograph on any of those great music’s unless I do the Opera!” So I thought, “What if I just put a bunch together and sort of… play with it”? And that’s what came out. It was great that Donald (Byrd) brought that back because it was a retrospective of his time here. I was one of the few choreographers he’d brought back which was very nice of him. He’s been very supportive.
    Olivier before we close, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?
    This has been quite an adventure! I can’t believe that in just a few weeks it’ll all be over, but I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of it. As far as the future of the company, I’m hoping to grow really fast and be able to do more. I really think Seattle has the room for this.
    Vala:  I agree. I think the dance community as a whole needs people like you who are willing to step out of the box and bring the art back to dance.
    Olivier:  Right! That’s what it’s all about to me. Otherwise it’s just dance, but if it becomes more than that, that’s when it’s really interesting.

    Get your tickets for Whim W’him at On the Boards!

    January 15-17, 2010

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