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Whim W'him Choreographic Shindig V (Sept 13-15, 18-21)

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Last night Whim W'him opened it's 10th season with Choreographic Shindig V, a program by choreographers selected by the dancers before the beginning of last season. 

In the post-performance Q&A, choreographer Joshua Manculich said that this was the first time he's had more than a short time to choreograph -- 70 hours with the dancers according to Olivier Wevers in his welcome -- and he said he tried out a lot of different things, adding and removing, including the music.  In its vocabulary and structure, his "See Saw" was familiar.  I don't mean predictable, but more in idiom of what the dancers perform regularly.  And they looked great in it, not just in looking uniquely themselves while doing the same choreography, but in having an outside eye emphasize and showcase their best qualities.

Kyra Jean Green said that her "The Smile Club" was a collaboration with the dancers.  While referencing a historical phenomenon in pre-WWI Budapest, any woman who has been admonished to "smile" by random men on the street, and any human who has been told not to show their emotions or any emotional nuance or pressured to show a conforming face, will recognize the underlying pain without those references.  In the Q&A dancer Adrian Hoffman said that the choreography gave him what was like another limb: the facial expressions in the piece demanded the detail and intensity as the rest of the body motion.  Often dancers set their faces by section, and in contemporary choreography, that is often a kind of casual seriousness, but that was not an option here, and Liane Aung talked about reacting to her fellow dancers, based on their expressions, so it was constant reaction built in.  "The Smile Club" is both terrific dance and terrific theater.

While there are psychological analogies in Yoshito Sakuraba's "Laurentide," based on the geological phenomenon, the combination of powerful music and fascinating groupings, plus the directness with which the dancers performed it, was a pleasure to see.  Choreographers have paired two of the Whim W'him women; here it was great to see all three as a trio in short spurts.

This is such a beautiful group of dancers.  Whenever I see compelling contemporary dancers outside the Company, I usually wish they were dancing here.

LIke with any commissions that aren't highly prescribed, you don't know what you're going to get until the music is chosen and that group of people, and who they are at that moment are in the room to work.  I think the stars aligned for this one, and I'm going back.


Remaining performances are tonight, Sunday 15, and this coming Wednesday-Saturday, September 18-21 at 8pm at the (wingless) Erickson Theater on Capitol Hill.

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