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Whim W'him: #unprotected

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sandik reviewed Whim W'him's current program, "#unprotected, for Seattle Weekly:


The last two performances are tonight and tomorrow night (Friday) at 8pm in the Erickson Theater on Harvard Avenue just sound of Pine Street, right next to the Egyptian Theater's western facing side. I had expected a much smaller space, but while it seats ~150, with no wings, the stage looks as large if not larger than the ones at On the Boards and Meany Hall. With an exit door far upstage right, the set-ups and endings of the works are dependent on lighting even more than usual, and the theater also impacts the structure of the works, as all the dancers for the piece are onstage for the entire pieces, even when they aren't actively moving and the focus is on a solo or other subgroups of dancers.

I saw the show last Saturday night. Unfortunately, I had had a long and stressful day of travel and didn't think when when ordering dinner. I went intermittently in and out of post-dinner carb coma, which had nothing to do with the quality or content of first work, "Les Biches," by Lopez Ochoa. It wasn't simply the movement that was energy-driven, through the ends of the red straws attached to the four women's fingers, but also the group poses that shimmered with intensity. In the post-performance Q&A, Lopez Ochoa said she proposed the title, "The Bitches," and that Wevers thought of "Les Biches," which ties into the part human/part animal personas of the four does. This was not "Bambi." Because I faded out at times, I can't speak to the overall structure of the work, which I experienced as a series of vignettes. Mark Zappone's flesh-covered leotard-based costumes were gorgeous.

Andrew Bartee's "i'm here but it's not the same" for five dancers was set to music by William Basinski and the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." In the opening the dancers arranged themselves in still, linear configurations, re-arranging their positions while lights went down. One dancer, Laura Seefeldt, separated from the group and had breakout solos. As I often experience it in contemporary dance, the stillness and the architecture is much more vivid than the breakout movement. Seefeldt's is usually a sharp and dynamic performer, with her movements etched into air, but here she looked pale, and the work as a whole opened more strongly than it ended.

Talk about saving the best for last, Wevers' "Above the Cloud" for his entire company was sheer brilliance. Opening with seven giant (5'x5') pillows arranged like a feather bed, to Poulenc's "Organ Concerto", the long dismantling of the bed with the dancer on it was simultaneously funny, dynamic, and aggressive, and the energy and ingenuity didn't stop for the duration of the work.

One of Wevers' strengths is the ability to move groups in and out of complicated, close formations seamlessly, and here there was the added challenge of adding pillows to the mix, pillows which the dancers said kept shifting the stuffing when in motion. Another is the way the dancers melt in an out of group dynamics into solos, here Geneva Jenkins, and duos, all the while matching the ever-changing score. This was a pillow fight I'll never forget.

If you haven't seen it, and there's a chance to snag some of the few remaining tickets, this is a must see.

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