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Tag Archives: Olivier Wevers

  • Whim W'him Delivers 'Shadows, Raincoats & Monsters'

    This past weekend, Olivier Wevers and the gorgeous cast of Whim W’him delivered their much-anticipated second production, ‘Shadows, Raincoats and Monsters’ to a sell-out crowd at The Intiman Theatre.



    The evening opened with ‘This is Not a Raincoat’, a delightful romp which begins with the dancers marching, marching, marching in step, dressed in pink turtlenecks, pink socks and black raincoats. The coats represent the protective mask we oftentimes project to society in hopes that our make-believe persona will be more readily accepted than our true self. Yet midway through the selection the music takes on a decidedly childlike tone and suddenly everyone drops their raincoats and frolics about with carefree abandon. The mix of bouncy music coupled with sweet little baby coos and a child’s laughter made you pause for a moment and think back to a time when life was all innocence and discovery. There was no pretense, no need for a “raincoat” to hide under. The real you was more than enough. At the end of the piece, only one dancer (performed by the ever-stunning Chalnessa Eames), is willing to keep her raincoat off permanently.

    I felt this move was a stroke of genius, as it would’ve been far too easy to have everyone tossing their coats in a collective show of freedom. {Because as we all know, life just doesn’t work that way.}

    ‘Monsters’ is a triptych of three pas de deuxs that explore some of society’s darkest layers: homophobia, drug addiction and abusive relationships. Each section began with a poem written and recorded by local hip-hop artist, RA Scion that served as the backdrop to each piece.

    In Monster #1, Andrew Bartee and Vincent Lopez performed a very powerful, incredibly moving piece as a homosexual couple struggling for acceptance in society. As Bartee hid his face with his hand in shame, Lopez very tenderly lowered Bartee's arm to his side. The arresting expression etched on Lopez's face as he gazed into his lover's eyes seemed to say, “Look at me. I see you, the real you deep inside. Don’t turn away from me, please!” To hide one is to hide the other, and each looked visibly hurt as society’s accusing finger pointed their way.

    This piece throbbed with such intense pain and aching tenderness. This exquisite ‘Monster’ –limping and wounded with the scars of fear—did what nothing else could. It opened my eyes to see the love behind the mask for the first time…and it was beautiful.

    Wevers second ‘Monster’ tackled the taboo subject of drug addiction head on. The piece was in stark contrast to the previous ‘Monster’ with its louder, more punctuated music and jerky movements. Ty Alexander Cheng and Kylie Lewallen made a most convincing pair of “addicts” struggling to escape their inner demons.

    Monster - Ty Cheng & Kylie Lewallen. Choreography by Olivier Wevers. Photography by Kim & Adam Bamberg


    Their movements were sharp and precise, poetic and dangerous. At times they seemed to be literally writhing in agony—backs arched, knees bent, hands clutching. For a brief moment, I thought the pair was gaining an inner strength and would soon break free from their self-imposed prison. But alas, the black claws of addiction had sunk too deep and took Lewallen’s character down with them.

    The third ‘Monster’, abusive relationships, shined the spotlight on the dynamic partnership of Melody Herrera and Lucien Postlewaite. As a fan of Pacific Northwest Ballet, I’ve witnessed Postlewaite’s stellar talent first hand, but seeing him with Herrera—I swear, fireworks went off and rainbows streaked across the sky! Their chemistry is the epitome of perfection, poetry in motion and every other flowery combination of adjectives you can throw in there. They literally draw out the very best from each other's souls.

    As Monster #3 begins, we find Postlewaite looking weary and exhausted as he drags Herrera behind him. “Were we ever good together?” his expression seems to wonder. Throughout the piece, Herrera’s character alternates between a human ball and chain to a heavy millstone suspended from her lover’s neck. Their toxic relationship escalates from weary looks to strangleholds and vicious shoves. And then, contrary to all reason, each of these outbursts of rage culminates with a panic-stricken return to the other’s embrace. It’s not so much love that holds these two together, but rather their pride that won’t allow them to admit they’ve made a mistake.

    The final act of the night was ‘Cylindrical Shadows’ created by the renowned choreographer, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. In ‘Shadows’ we find a group of dancers moving along without much thought or care. They seem to have a plan and refuse to be swayed from it. Then as one dancer suddenly dies, only one member of the group mourns their loss. As the grief-stricken party gently sits atop of their dearly departed, the rest of the dancers carry on as if nothing has happened.

    Cylindrical Shadows - Melody Herrera & Lucien Postlewaite. Choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Photography by Kim & Adam Bamberg


    A deeper layer of emotion is brought into focus during the final moments of the closing pas de deux featuring Herrera and Postlewaite (now deceased). As the music slowly fades away, Herrera –no longer content to idly sit on top of him as she did before—lovingly wraps her limbs around her beloved’s body and refuses to let go. {Grab handful of tissues here.}

    This sudden shock of tragedy is replayed many times, allowing the viewer to acknowledge this unspoken truth: The rest of the world doesn’t stop just because yours did. In fact, it’s not supposed to. Life goes on, whether we want it to or not. And in time, we too become like those oblivious dancers, unaware of the pain in another’s eyes...

    And with that, this spectacular evening of thought-provoking and emotionally inspiring dance came to a close. The crescendo of applause echoed throughout the entire theatre as everyone rose to their feet in deep admiration and respect.

    Whim W’him has left its own indelible mark of beauty on the hearts of both ballet and modern dance enthusiasts alike. Therefore, I know I’m not alone when I say--

    I can’t wait to see what’s next!

    *Be sure to catch Whim W’him’s ‘Fragments’ at On The Boards AWARD Show, Saturday January 29th. Tickets available at On The Boards.

    By Denise Opper

  • Seattle's Intiman Theatre Announces Partnership with Whim W'him

    The Intiman Theatre has announced a five-year partnership with the up 'n coming dance company, Whim W'him, the brainchild of Olivier Wevers. Wevers is the founder and artistic director of Whim W'him as well as a principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet. You can read the exciting announcement here.

    For more information about Whim W'him and its upcoming season premiere "Shadows, Raincoats and Monsters" visit Whim W'

    {Congratulations, Olivier and to all the Whim W'him dancers! You guys are amazing and we can't wait to see you in January!}

  • Review: Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker

    Snow on stage!  Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers in the Kent Stowell/Maurice Sendak Nutcracker.  Photo © Angela Sterling


    For more than 50 years, Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” has been an American holiday tradition. The Pacific Northwest Ballet continues to make their exclusive Stowell & Sendak Nutcracker production a warm and delightfully magical onset to our wintry festivities by exuding the finest artistry from the scenic and lighting design to the richly animated choreography, and of course, the musical compositions performed by sixty-five of the most talented musicians. Nevertheless, what made this story come to life were the dancers and their interpretation of ETA Hoffman’s characters.

    The cast for the opening night of PNB’s Nutcracker included a number of the company’s finest dancers along with several of its own Pacific Northwest Ballet School students. The audience reveled in watching the young students inherit the stage of McCaw Hall, some for the first time. The innocent and uninhibited way they captured the essence of Hoffman’s characters was remarkable and enchanting.

    Among the professional cast, Batkhurel Bold’s representation of the Prince is passionately strong and daringly dynamic. Perfectly paired with Bold was Carla Körbes. She captivated our hearts with her exquisite and gentle adaptation of Clara. Olivier Wevers delivered an outstanding performance as his magnetic personality encapsulated that of Drosselmeyer/Pasha. Ariana Lallone was brilliantly flawless in her transcendental presentation of the Peacock. Carrie Imler was powerfully breathtaking in Waltz of the Flowers. Her performance was an absolute treasure to behold. PNB’s company of dancers executed each step with such vitality and sincerity, the evening concluded with a blissful aspiration for more.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes as Clara in PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker.  Photo © Angela Sterling


    Pacific Northwest Ballet’s vivid adaptation of this childhood storybook re-establishes a dreamlike imagination in audience members of all ages. Performances will run from November 26th until December 27, 2010. Come and enjoy the magic of Stowell & Sendak’s Nutcracker.

    For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

    Review By: Amanda Calderon

    Vala Dancewear / Class Act Tutu Associate

  • 8th Against the Grain/Men in Dance Festival

    Dioscuri photo by Colleen Dishy, dancers Danny Boulet, Sylvain Boulet, choreographer Donald Byrd.


    Attention Seattle dance fans! There's still time to purchase tickets to the oh-so-fabulous Men In Dance Festival! The biennial treat opens this weekend and is shaping up to be its best year yet! Check out the press release below for more details. {PS: We'll be there on opening night...will you?}




     (Seattle, WA) The 8th biennial Men In Dance (MID) Festival will be held at Broadway Performance Hall on the Seattle Central Community College Campus (1625 Broadway Seattle, WA 98122, (206)325-3113).  The festival will run October 8th & 9th at 8PM, 10th at 2PM and 15th & 16th at 8PM, 17th at 2PM.  Ticket price ranges from $12 to $20.  Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006.  Credit card purchases through Brown Paper Tickets.  Cash and check sales only at the door. 


    As the longest running dance festival in Seattle, MID brings together a broad cross-section of dance. From the genres of classical ballet, modern and tap, to the most current contemporary techniques including, spoken word and site specific work it’s all encompassing.  This powerful showcase will present new upcoming choreographic talent from Pacific Northwest Ballet, Cornish College of the Arts, and The University of Washington as well as some of our strongest choreographers from past festivals.  For the first time MID will expanded it’s reach past the Seattle area to bring in dancers from the Portland, OR based company Northwest Dance Project (Artistic Director Sarah Slipper) to perform a work created by one of our favorite past choreographers Gérard Théorêt.     


    Returning choreographers of note:  Donald Byrd, Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater, known for his thought provoking work will be premiering a new piece choreographed for Peter Boal, Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Noted in 2008’s festival for his duet "Dioscuri" (inspired by the Greek myth of twin brothers Castor and Pollux) Michael Upchurch at the Seattle Times said the piece was a “sense of being immersed in a world at once rivalrous, tender and hermetic”.  Also returning to the festival will be Olivier Wevers, Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer and Director/Founder of the contemporary dance company Whim W'Him.  Fresh from his company’s premier last year, Wevers brings a new era of collaboration and artistry with his choreography that is sure to set the bar for the festival.  One of the founding female choreographers, Deborah Wolf, Professor of Dance at Cornish College of the Arts, will be returning to premier a new piece.  Wolf has received acclaim for her 2008 festival submission “The Hip Deep Family” inspired by the gothic humor of illustrator Edward Gorey, by being picked as one of the finalists at On The Boards A.W.A.R.D. Show!, produced by the Joyce Theater Foundation. 


    New choreographers to note: Sonia Dawkins Director/Founder of Sonia Dawkins Prism Dance Theatre will have her premier at the festival this year.  Dawkins is known for explosive powerful movement with rhythm, speed and clarity of intention.  She will create a new piece for five male artists that focus on the “Voices of a Male”.  Also new to the festival this year is Barry Kerollis; dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Kerollis has been showcased three times at PNB’s annual Choreographer’s Showcase, and has already been noted for his work being “poignant, thrilling, architectural looking and momentum building”.  Kerollis will create a new piece for the MID festival that is inspired by a Brazilian instrumental group.  David Lorence Schleiffers, graduate of the University of Washington and Artistic Director/Resident Choreographer of Quark Contemporary Dance Theatre, will make his debut with our festival this year.  He will be reworking a former piece that looks at multiple aspects of male interaction including playfulness, friendship and a need for affection. 

    Our complete list of choreographers is as follows: Week 1 - Donald Byrd, Barry Kerolis, Cheryl Johnson, Wade Madsen, Jason Ohlberg, David Lorence Schlieffers, Eva Stone, Alia Swersky, Olivier Wevers, Deborah Wolf.  Week 2: Sonia Dawkins, Louis Gervais, Cheryl Johnson, Geoffrey Johnson, Jason Ohlberg, Christian Swenson, Alia Swersky, Gérard Théorêt, Markeith Wiley, Deborah Wolf. 


    As part of our community outreach, MID will be hosting a cross promotional ticket exchange with other performance venues.  In order to support all the great performances in the Seattle area we will offer discounted ticket prices for audience members that show a ticket stub from a participating performance group during the time of our performances.  Another way we are giving back to our community is by participating in the first Arts Crush.  This new month long festival will connect artists and audience with invigoration new experiences at hundreds of events across our region.  We will also be bringing back our family matinee performances, as we are committed to the idea that, dance is for all ages.  We hope that this festival inspires young people, particularly young men, to pursue their interest in dance.      


    For more information go to our website: or visit our Facebook page at:

  • Dance Vacations


    Courtesy of La Vie Photography Houston Ballet principal Melody Herrera and Lucien Postelwaite rehearsing a new work by Annabelle Lopez Ochao with Whim W'Him, a new Seattle dance company directed by Olivier Wevers.


    "Vacations are better put to use as immersion excursions. Apparently, I am not the only dance nerd in town. Others are spending their precious down time doing just what they love, dancing. For this crop, summer seems to be more about changing the where than the what."~Quote Nancy Wozny,


    This article was just too good to keep to ourselves! Nancy Wozny of Culture Map-Houston, reveals what some of the world's top dancers are up to this summer. Our favorite dancers of note include Whim W'him's Olivier Wevers, Lucien Postlewaite, Melody Herrera and Annabelle Lopez Ochao!  You can read all about it here.

  • Review: Pacific Northwest Ballet's Coppelia

    Pacific Northwest Ballet pulled out all the stops with their latest production of George Balanchine's, Coppelia.  This fantastic production features all new lavishly designed (read: gorgeous!) sets, to die for costumes, and of course the high-caliber artistry that PNB is world-famous for.


    Saturday's matinee featured Lesley Rausch as Swanilda/Coppelia, Jerome Tisserand as Franz, and Olivier Wevers as Dr. Coppelius.  Right off the bat, I have to give serious applause to Rausch for her outstanding interpretation. She not only delighted everyone in the audience with her arrogance and saucy attitude, but she transported us into the heart of her character. Sure, Swanilda isn't the nicest of young ladies, but her love for Franz is evident, even when faced with the sting of rejection.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lesley Rausch with PNB School students and PNB company members in PNB’s premiere production of Coppélia: Choreography by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust (after Marius Petipa). Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lesley Rausch with PNB School students and PNB company members in PNB’s premiere production of Coppélia: Choreography by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust (after Marius Petipa). Photo © Angela Sterling


    Jerome Tisserand's Franz was perfectly executed. Like Rausch, he had a way drawing me in, making me feel almost as fed up with Swanilda's antics as he was. His attitude was a perfect blend of inflated ego meets young playboy looking for love.  After discovering that his love interest is only a doll, one would expect Franz to act a bit more sheepish over his foolish behavior. (I mean, seriously!) However, Tisserand remains true to character and Franz casually glosses over that "minor faux pas" with a sudden profession of love for Swanilda, which of course, she accepts.

    Dr. Coppelius

    Olivier Wevers deserved the standing ovation he received for his performance as the highly eccentric, slightly creepy, Dr. Coppelius. How it is Wevers can pull such multi-faceted characters out of his back pocket is beyond me! His Dr. Coppelius was a thrilling "yin and yang"; an absent-minded and lonely old man, whose walking stick doubles as a handy weapon against "the wild hooligans" of the town. But underneath that "grumpy old man" veneer lurks a borderline-fiendish soul.

    Honorable Mentions

    Act three's splendid cast also deserves special mention. I was most impressed by Carrie Imler's "Dawn" and Sarah Ricard Orza's "Prayer". These dancers gave equally passionate and exquisite performances. Imler was a vision of dazzling sunlight--bright, confident and striking.  Ricard Orza danced "Like a fairy tale princess!" (to quote the little one sitting next to me) with her flowing port de bras and delicate phrasing. The action-packed "Discord and War" featured Batkhurel Bold and Lindsi Dec entering the stage like wild flashes of lightning dressed in silvery armor. As always, the power behind these two striking  dancers takes your breath away. Their amazing turns and leaps were all done whilst holding long spears--none of which whacked anyone else nor made kabobs out of their thighs. (An acrobatic feat of epic proportions, especially when you consider how clumsy the rest of is--read: yours truly!--would be in the same situation.)

    PNB's Coppelia is filled with good natured humor, an outstanding cast, and delicious imagery. If you haven't yet made your way to McCaw Hall to catch the "Happiest Ballet on Earth!", I would highly suggest that you do so.!

    Coppelia runs from June 3rd-13th. Tickets are available by visiting

    By Denise Opper

    Media Relations

  • Love, Passion and Dedication: Olivier Wevers & Lucien Postlewaite

    Just like Valentine's Day, the dance world is all about love, passion and dedication. From the gorgeous costumes to the sumptuous sets, to the swelling orchestral music to the supreme dedication to one's craft, everything is cloaked and bejeweled in love.

    In our first Valentine's Day segment, we chatted with the talented Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza of Pacific Northwest Ballet. Next up in our special Valentine's Day feature, we'll chat with PNB principal dancer (and Whim W'him Artistic Director), Olivier Wevers about his marriage to fellow PNB principal, Lucien Postlewaite.

    Olivier and Lucien met while working at PNB. The couple later tied the knot in Santa Cruz, CA on November 2nd, 2008.

    Lucien Postlewaite & Olivier Wevers  Wedding Day, November 2, 2008

    Like other dance marriages, this handsome couple doesn't have to deal with the stress of trying to balance a career with spending quality time with their spouse. "Our schedule is pretty similar, which helps with spending time together," says Olivier.

    Additionally, Wevers cherishes the many emotional benefits a relationship with a fellow dancer brings. "We understand and support each other, and know when the other needs a little support or criticism. It {the dance world} is a very mental plays with your insecurities and your mind. Having a spouse that deals with similar issues really helps. Also, we push each other as artists. We have both the same set of values, and help each other identify what our priorities are!"

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Olivier Wevers as the evil Carabosse, and principal dancer Carla Körbes as the Lilac Fairy in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.
    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Olivier Wevers as the evil Carabosse, and principal dancer Carla Körbes as the Lilac Fairy in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    This Valentine's Day, Olivier will be up to his eyebrows in "Work, work, work!" However, the pair does have a quiet, relaxing getaway planned. "On Sunday, I will be performing a Duke in the Sleeping Beauty with PNB at 1pm, and then driving like a mad man to get to Bellevue. FRAGMENTS is being performed at 3pm at the Meydenbauer center. {This is for Whim W'him, Olivier's new company.} Then after that, I am meeting with a videographer to get the DVD ready from the 3Seasons to send to presenters, Directors, etc. So quite a busy day, but finishing with packing for beach, sun and margaritas! (We're) leaving for Mexico for a week without a computer or cell phone!"

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Lucien Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura as Prince Florimund and Princess Aurora in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Now that sounds like my kind of holiday!

    You can catch Olivier and Lucien performing at McCaw Hall this week in Pacific Northwest Ballet's, The Sleeping Beauty . More information about upcoming encore performances for Whim W'him can be found by visiting WhimW'Him's website.

  • 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


    In Part Two of our interview, Artistic Director Olivier Wevers revealed some of the challenges he’s had to face since birthing his new company, Whim W’him.  Continuing now in Part Three, Olivier shares the ways in which Whim W’him will be a unique force in the world of dance…

    Hannah Lagerway, Whim W'Him


    Vala:  You speak a lot about collaboration and the process of creating new works. In what ways will Whim W’him be different from other companies? How will it be unique?
    Olivier:  One of the things I’m trying to do with this company first is to bridge the dance community a little bit. Because what I’ve witnessed in Seattle over the past 13 years that I’ve been here is all these different dance communities—ballet, modern, contemporary, independent artists—everybody’s trying to do their own thing. And I really want to try to bridge that gap. I mean there are so many wonderful artists and I don’t think you need to be selective of one style and classify that one style either. In the way I pick the dancers—having PNB dancers, those classically trained dancers, Spectrum dancers that are dancers that usually dance barefoot, and then some independent artists in town—I’m trying to put all those dancers that would usually not get to work together, get to work together. It’s bridging the communities in Seattle and I want to bring back artistic collaboration.

    Another thing that I’ve witnessed as a dancer is that so many people are blaming the economy that is so bad right now. So everybody is trying to do something like, “We’re going to create this ballet but we’re going to use this in-house designer, in-house lighting director, etc and we’re going to try to make it so that we don’t have to pay the orchestra overtime and such”. The resources are really limited, and it’s not just here but all around. So one of the things I really want to bring back is collaboration. Some of the greatest works to me are the ones that had a composer, a designer that was brought in, a few artists working on it, and a few dramatizers working on it. I want to go back to that. I want to be able to collaborate with other artists.
    It’s been really rewarding because for the past few months I’ve been working with a composer, with a costume designer, a fantastic lighting designer—they’ve all brought so much to the work, so much more than I could’ve envisioned just on my own.
    I get to do this because I’m also the one doing all the fund raising, so I know this is going to cost a lot more—it’s going to take a lot more time, more resources. But that also motivates me to work harder (at fund raising) so that I can do all the things that I want to do.

    Jonathan Porretta, Whim W'Him


    Vala:  That’s fantastic! I would love to see that happen again. It’s been years since you would even heard about any sort of collaboration going on.
    Olivier:  Yeah, that’s right! I see how it happens behind the doors. It’s not about the process anymore. Choreographers 20 years ago would spend months in the studio. For example, some people say Jerome Robbins was a genius, but he never just went in the studio and created a piece in two weeks. It took him months and he would re-work it, and re-work it, and re-work it in the studio. It was all about the process as well as the product. Then adding in collaborators as well—sets, music, designers. None of that exists anymore. The process now is, “How fast can you choreograph?” and then “Can you use this in-house person for this and that?” Not that these people aren’t talented, but when the work becomes so in-house, there’s no inspiration. Those people—the costumers, etc—don’t feel like they can say anything, so there’s no artistic exchange going on. It’s important for artists to be able to pick their own collaborators. You need to work with people you have an interest in working with and those who will inspire you.
    Vala:  I’m really glad that your whole basis is about the process. It’s nice to see there are people like you who choose to develop as a dancer, and create a work of art rather than just a performance.
    Olivier:  You know, what happening a lot in ballet is that we’re settling. Yeah, it looks pretty and someone can produce it really fast. But imagine if that person could’ve spent another three weeks or a month or two on it, and could’ve worked with those other people gathering more ideas. Ballet to me is starting to look a little like a museum piece where you see the same things over and over. We need to keep ballet alive. I love all the pieces but if that’s all you’re giving, people are going to get bored with that. You need to push the artists, push the envelope. Discover new ways of connecting to the audience; discover new ways of doing ballet.
    Vala:  I agree 100%. Years ago the character development was very different from what it is now. Dancers had to convey their character through every inch of their body. It wasn’t just “Here are your steps”. You had to make your character breathe through every inch of your being.
    Olivier:  That’s not what’s happening anymore. Once you know your steps, you get a show. I remember when I first started 20 years ago in Canada, I was coached my first time in Giselle. And I don’t know how many hours I spent in the studio just learning how to walk! You know, this ballerina from Russia was making me cry because I couldn’t do it right. I didn’t know how to walk on stage! And none of that is taught anymore; everything is just kind of taken for granted.
    When creating Whim W’him, I chose that name because I didn’t want it to be all about me. Like the Olivier Wevers project or company. I didn’t want that. I’m interested in bringing in different choreographers to work with these dancers of different backgrounds in the future. Therefore, I need to do more fundraising so I can start doing that. I want this to become a really collaborative and versatile company.

    Check back soon to read our forth and final segment where Olivier reveals some of the exciting upcoming reps from Whim W’him, the dancers who inspire him most, and his advice for budding artistic directors!

    Read more about Whim'Whim's Performances January 15-17 and Purchase Tickets at On the Boards

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