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Olivier Wevers Whim W'him


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#1 sandik

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 11:15 AM

I don't know if the mods think this is the appropriate place for a thread on Wever's upcoming show with his side project Whim/W'him -- if not, please relocate.

I went to an open rehearsal for the program last night (along with Helene, who had many interesting things to say about it) and was gobsmacked by the material -- very dense, detailed, musical and eccentrically beautiful. It's running at On the Boards January 15-17, and I highly recommend seeing it.

#2 Helene

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 11:39 AM

PNB dancers in the program are Lucien Postlewaite, Jonathan Porretta, Chalnessa Eames, and Kaori Nakamura.

Because of the structure of the piece -- 4 movements choreographed, with three chosen by draw before each performance, as well a draw for which musical score will be used [see below] -- I won't comment on sections, since they may not be performed on a given night, but to generalize, there is stunning work for small ensemble and a great emphasis on arms and hands that in itself should be fascinating for dance lovers. And sophisticated humor.

Wow, wow, wow, did I say wow?

#3 bart

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 12:58 PM

This is intriguing. I understand your hesitancy to talk about the individual sections. But please tell us more of what you can. For example, how in the world does the following actually work?

... a draw for which musical score will be used



#4 Helene

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 03:51 PM

I misunderstood the process.

From the Whim W'him website:

Before each show a random drawing...
Whichever of Vivaldi's original seasons is picked will be omitted from that show. In its place, music will be played for the corresponding season from the suite composed by Byron Au Yong. Neither dancers nor audience will know ahead of time which season is going to be replaced.

Which season ends the particular performance determines if it closes on a note of hope or gloom...


The dancing will be to Vivaldi, but one movement of the Vivaldi music will be replaced by Byron Au Yong's score.

#5 SandyMcKean

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 05:04 PM

Sounds like Wevers is being purposefully whimsical (after all his new company's name is Whim W'him which I'm told sprouts from a sense of humor and whimsy). Obviously the word Whim is actually there, but also the contraction W'him which I believe is a spoof: meaning "with him" (him being Wevers). So the company is "being whimsical with Wevers" At least so I understand.

#6 Helene

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 05:12 PM

There's a very interesting interview on the On the Boards website with Lane Cziplanski, Artistic Director of On the Boards, and Olivier Wevers, in which Wevers discusses his choreography, working in the studio, approach to pointe work, the production team, and the dancers.

http://luxmedia.vo.l...1201_wevers.mp3

For Oregon Ballet Theatre fans, OBT Lighting Designer Michael Mazzolo is the lighting designer for "3 Seasons".

#7 sandik

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 08:41 AM

Marcie Sillman did a very nice profile on the company and the project this morning on KUOW, transcript here And I believe the run is all but sold out.

#8 Helene

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 11:12 PM

All performances are sold out, according to the Whim W'him Facebook page, but

Don't give up...there will be a wait list each day starting at noon on Friday, and 3PM on Saturday and Sunday! On the Boards box office 206.217.9888


I saw the dress rehearsal tonight, with the props, costumes, and lighting and all three pieces look great. What's really remarkable that except for a couple of water bottles in the blocking rehearsal I saw last week, the choreography for "3Seasons" was just as clear without the props as with them. (With them was richer, but there wasn't anything obviously missing without them.) "X stasis" looks just as fine close up in the space at On the Boards as it did on the McCaw Hall stage when it was danced in the Choreographer's workshop.

All four seasons of "3Seasons" are danced, three to the Vivaldi score and one to an original score by Byron Au Yong, played by an ensemble of cello, violin, drums, and very small (toddler?) piano. The dancers know only before the piece begins which movement they will dance to the Au Yong score, and it's not announced. Tonight, the third part was by Au Yong, and in the center of two sections that sounded a bit like social dance music was a section that resembled a George Crumb sound scape. The choreography fit the score really well, however different it was from the Vivaldi.

In "FRAGMENTS", which I had never seen before, there are two remarkable solos. In his preview for The Seattle Times, Michael Upchurch wrote,

What about Wevers' own dancing? Can we expect to see him onstage with Whim W'Him?

"Probably never," he laughs. His hands are full, he says, with choreographing, fundraising and administration.

Porretta thinks that's a shame: "He looks incredible doing his own choreography. It's very hard to duplicate.


The male solo, to Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus", quoted by Tchaikovsky and used as the opening movement of Balanchine's "Mozartiana", was beautifully danced tonight, but Wevers' demonstrating it must be extraordinary.

There is so much beautiful detail for arms and hands in "3Seasons" and lovely work for the ensemble. In all three works, Wevers explores many kinds of relationships with depth. The only way I can describe the experience of watching it is that it's like being in Finland, taking a cold shower, then a sauna, then a run through the snow and a jump into an ice bath, then getting raked and beaten on the back with birch branches, then soaking in a tub, and then having a massage. Each one is so different, but the key is getting them all in a row, as one experience.

#9 Helene

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 01:51 PM

Michael Upchurch gave the opening a rave review in The Seattle Times. Seeing him write,

I would say do anything you can — cash in your life insurance, pawn your children, whatever it takes — to grab a ticket to "3Seasons," the first full-length evening of work by Olivier Wevers and his new dance company, Whim W'Him.


makes me sorry I censored myself from posting, "If you can't buy a ticket, mug someone for theirs."

He concludes:

One final note: It's a treat to see the PNB dancers in this company on such an intimate stage. And you really do see them. Wevers and his lighting designer Michael Mazzola aren't afraid of bright, almost bleached-out light in certain passages, and they work it to potent dramatic effect.


In her preview for Seattle Times, Sandra Kurtz wrote:

The choreographic style he's developed in the past few years is also virtuosic and quirky, a highly physical, musical, and detailed approach. Seeing him right now may be similar to what it was like to see Twyla Tharp or Jirí Kylián early in their careers.


There were times when I thought I could feel a touch of the spirit of Mark Morris in the room, not just for the humor, but for the way in which the dancers, when in groups, looked like a real, interdependent community, and the hand dance, the kind of beautifully focused section that spun itself into continuing revelation.

#10 SandyMcKean

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 08:52 AM

I saw the last performance last night (Sunday). All I can say is WOW.

Everything was terrific, but I thought 3 Seasons was remarkable. Wevers used the music in absolutely amazing ways. The quality of the dancing by these highest possible calibre dancers was extraordinary. Their sense of ensemble could be cut with a knife. The standing ovation was instant and left NO ONE in their seat. In particular, I thought Wevers did a masterful job of understanding his dancers strengths and choreographing to those strengths. All dances are a reflection of the original cast to some extent, but in this production, I think this aspect is particularly evident.

When the final curtain set, all I could think of was......."we've just seen the birth of something important".

Oh, and BTW, the lighting was superb. I don't think I have ever seen such dramatic and appropriate lighting in such a small venue (400 seats?) before. Congrats to Michael Mazzola.

#11 Helene

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 03:13 PM

Marcie Sillman, who has done many dance pieces for KUOW-FM in Seattle, reviewed Whim W'him for Artdish:

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer and choreographer Olivier Wevers’ new company Whim W’him made its debut Friday, January 15th, with a bill of three dances, including the world premier of 3Seasons. Wevers has been creating dance on a freelance basis for the past several years. The choreographer decided to form his own troupe in 2008, at the urging of some of his fellow PNB dancers. When OTB Artistic Director Lane Czaplinski gave Whim W’him a slot as part of the Northwest New Works series, it was a gamble of sorts. On The Boards’ audiences are accustomed to hard edged contemporary dance, not toe shoes and tutus. What they got this weekend was ballet for a new generation, and while the crowd reaction was mostly enthusiastic, not everyone liked, or understood, what they saw.



#12 Helene

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 09:51 AM

Here's a link to a video page posted on Whim W'him's Facebook page with a 2.5 minute film by Matthew Brown:



#13 Jayne

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:34 PM

http://thesunbreak.c...-whims-3seasons

criticism of the choreography

#14 SandyMcKean

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 02:39 PM

Far more than criticisms of the choreography I'd say. My word for the "review" would be hog wash.

Anyone who listens to rumors (much less reading into the comments of 3rd parties as this critic does in this article) that somehow Lucien, Olivier, and Kaori have a spiteful, hateful relationship is out on Pluto somewhere. Besides, I can't imagine anyone who follows Olivier Wevers (or PNB for that matter), and claims to be knowledgable enough to be a critic, wouldn't know the personal relationships btwn these 3 over a 10 year period. Such a "critic" gets an F in my book for not paying attention. Both marriages and the split were well discussed even in public by the principles and other first hand observers (I know since I attended some of these events).

I think someone is allowing their personal prejudices to influence their "critical judgment" here.

#15 Jayne

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 06:19 PM

I pretty much ignored all the relationship "gossip" - but the mother earth getting bloody, dry humped, and thrown into a dumpster isn't really your mother's oldsmobile, now is it?

Is it art? Is it misogynistic? (sp?) I was out of town so couldn't attend, but if Donald Byrd is talking about it (he wasn't gossiping, just criticizing the dancer's dry humping), I think we can have a legitimate discussion of what is dance and what is just shock value.


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