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Tag Archives: Olivier Wevers

  • Putting a Ring on It

    valentines-day-rosesDancing with the one you love—isn’t that everyone’s dream? What are the pleasures—and the challenges—of sharing your stage life with your partner in marriage?

    Check out this great piece from Dance Magazine featuring beautiful dancing couples, including Seattle's own Olivier Wevers and Lucien Postlewaite.

    Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

  • Whim W'him's '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.

    Raincoat2

    This

    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

    Monster

    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

    Cylindrical

    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

  • Congratulations, Whim W'him

    Congratulations, Olivier Wevers and Whim W'him dancers!

    The Intiman Theatre has just announced an impressive five-year partnership with Whim W'him, the exciting Seattle-based dance company founded by Olivier Wevers, a principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet. "In a prepared statement, Intiman artistic director Kate Whoriskey said, "Olivier is a vibrant, fresh voice in the dance community. Intiman is proud to provide his company with a home." ~ The Seattle Times.  Read the official press announcement in its entirety here.

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

  • Review: Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker

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

    Snow

    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

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    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 PNB.org.

     

    Review By: Amanda Calderon

    Class Act Tutu Associate

  • Men In Dance Festival 2010

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

    Dioscuri

    Attention Seattle dance fans! There's still time to purchase tickets to the oh-so-fabulous Men In Dance Festival! The all-star 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?}

     

    8TH FESTIVAL FEATURES NEW CHOREOGRAPHERS ON THE RISE AND BRINGS BACK PAST SUCCESSORS

                                                 

     (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: www.menindance.org or visit our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Men-In-Dance/148709745156521?ref=sgm

  • 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

    Lucien

    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 world...it 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

    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.

    Pacific

    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: Pacific Northwest Ballet's Sleeping Beauty

    What a gorgeous evening! There are simply not enough adjectives to describe the splendor of Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty.  This outstanding company of dancers whisks its audience deep into the heart of this beloved fairy tale, thrilling and delighting both young and old alike.
    The scenery and costumes  designed by Peter Docherty are lush, vibrant and visually delicious. Enchanted foliage moves to ensconce the royal castle. Costumes shimmer and sparkle with life of their own. Aurora's bower is delicately ornate and enveloped in a golden beam of light.

    The Christening

    The opening Christening Scene exceeded all expectations. Otto Neubert (King Florimund) and Victoria McFall (the Queen) are poised experts of their craft. Their characterization is well-established and believable.
    The seven enchanted fairies and their cavaliers were dazzlingly  in sync. The Cavaliers, with their impressive turns and jumps, were thrilling to watch. The fairies were perfectly cast, each bringing their own unique style and interpretation to the role. Most memorable solos include Lindsi Dec's (Fairy of Wit) spunky finger pointing and skillful pointe work, and Chalnessa Eames' (Fairy of Generosity) charming, slightly coquettish performance.

    The Lilac Fairy

    Carrie Imler's  interpretation was not only masterful, but exhibited a profound sense of strength under control. I got the distinct impression that Lilac could've really given old Carabosse a swift kick in the skirt, but chose not to because that wouldn't be very ladylike. Their relationship seems tethered by a delicate wisp of a truce; "I will only allow you to go so far," Lilac's penetrating gaze warns.
    Imler's port de bras were gorgeous and fluid; her grace extending all the way through her fingertips. Her expressions were soft but commanding; her movement precise yet poetic. Imler's Lilac seemed to care deeply about all those within her domain, and their allegiance to her was not without cause.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes as the Lilac Fairy with her attendants, puts the kingdom under a sleeping spell in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    Carabosse

    Jonathan Poretta's portrayal of this devilish fairy was dramatic, powerful and just plain fun. Everything from his grand, swooping entrance accompanied by the sound of crashing cymbals and stark flashes of light, to the fiendish ways in which he lashes out over not being invited to the celebration was absolutely superb! Carabosse may be profoundly wicked, but she is still no match for the Lilac Fairy's power. One moment, Carabosse is whirling feverishly about, her cackling laughter almost audible. The next, she is cowering on the floor under Lilac's quietly dominating presence.  I was almost sorry she was stabbed to death by the heroic Prince in the end.

    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

    Princess Aurora

    With her delicate phrasing and uncanny ability to channel the emotions of a sixteen year old Princess, Mara Vinson has secured her place as a legendary ballerina. During the famous Rose Adagio, Vinson was unfathomably brilliant. Her balance was spot-on as she greeted each of the four Dukes; her supple back hinted of the beautiful woman our heroine is to become, and her developpes unfurled toward the sky. Last but not least, those fantastic poissons (fish dives)with the Dukes and later, the Prince, were nothing short of extraordinary. Indeed, Vinson's performance left many viewers gasping with excitement.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Mara Vinson as Aurora, with company dancers in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    The Prince

    Yet where would our lovely heroine be without her handsome Prince? Seth Orza proved his mettle by meeting the challenges of this highly demanding ballet. Orza starts out as a dashing, slightly aloof young man who quickly becomes enraptured by the girl of his dreams (literally). He begs the Lilac Fairy to show him where she can be found, a request which the benevolent fairy is only too happy to oblige. Orza's characterization is rich and articulate; his strength and power--sheer bliss. When he finally kills the wicked Carabosse then leans in to kiss his beloved Aurora, you have to literally stop yourself from cheering.

    The Wedding

    The third act of this ballet is filled with some of the most well-known and cherished variations. The Gold and Silver Pas de Trois, featuring Lindsi Dec, Andrew Bartee and Lucien Postlewaite was refreshing, effortless and commanding. I was duly impressed with how well Dec's strength and beautiful lines held their own against Bartee's and Postlewaite's esteemed technical prowess and bold execution.
    The Bluebirds (Rachel Foster and Benjamin Griffiths) were absolutely stunning.  Griffiths shined with his jaw-dropping leaps and jumps, while Foster's fluttering movements provided a sense of harmony and balance.
    Red Riding Hood and the Wolf (Abby Relic and Jerome Tisserand) was mildly sinister yet extremely charming. I heard more than a few giggles emanating from the children in attendance.
    However, it was the humorous dance between Puss in Boots (Jordan Pacitti) and the White Cat (Sarah Ricard Orza) that really got the audience's attention.  This talented duo made the most convincing pair of sparring felines imaginable. Pacitti was the ever-determined suitor vying for Ricard Orza's finicky feline affections; Ricard Orza transformed herself into the most feisty little kitty cat, holding Pacitti at arm's--or claw's--length. After multiple strikeouts, Pacitti finally decides to give Ricard Orza the gift no kitty in her right mind can resist; a tasty mouse!

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Seth Orza and principal dancer Mara Vinson as Prince Florimund and Princess Aurora in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific

    Conclusion

    By taking on this technically demanding ballet and performing with aplomb, Pacific Northwest Ballet has once again proven itself worthy of the highest of accolades. The dancers enamored the audience with their incandescent performance and spawned a new generation of wistful Auroras!

    by Denise Opper, Media Relations Class Act Tutu & Vala Dancewear

    All photos © Angela Sterling

    Pacific Northwest Ballet performs Ronal Hynd's The Sleeping Beauty

    February 4 - 14, 2010

  • Whim W'Him Part Three

    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

    Hannah

    Class Act:  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

    Jonathan

    Class Act:  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.
    Class Act:  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.
    Class Act:  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

    Tickets are SOLD OUT for this event but 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


  • Whim W'Him Part Two

    Interview: Olivier Wevers

    Part One of our exciting interview with Olivier Wevers detailed the purpose and mission behind his exciting new company, Whim W’him. Now in Part Two, Mr. Wevers speaks openly about the many changes that have occurred—both professionally and personally—since the birth of Whim W’him….

    Kaori Nakamura, WhimW'Him

    Kaori

    Class Act: How has your life changed since your company’s inception—as a dancer, as a choreographer, an artist and as a person?

    Olivier: (Gasping)  Oh my god—it’s totally changed!  I mean—(laughs)–I have no more days off.  That’s just being busy.  You know, every day off that I have, I’m trying to schedule a meeting or I’m working on the computer.  Usually my life before—the focus was really on being a dancer, which was really kind of selfish, because it was really just about the work I was doing.  So, I would wake up in the morning, get ready to dance, and when I was done dancing I could relax and do what I wanted, and I had days off that I would enjoy.
    Then I started choreographing and doing commissions for other places, and started having to run around town.  So, the last few years when I was choreographing, for Spectrum for example, I would rehearse at PNB until 3 and I would make sure to schedule a rehearsal for 3:30 at Spectrum—which would give me just enough time to get there—so I’d usually be eating in the car on the way there.
    Now on top of that, I’m also running this company, trying to do fundraising, scheduling–I mean everything.  I’ve been doing absolutely everything and it’s been crazy!
    Class Act: And yet, would you change anything about it? Would you go back to the way it was?

    Olivier: Well you know, it’s interesting because there are moments when I’m like, “What am I doing?  Why couldn’t I just live the way I was living, and just have time to relax, breathe, and not have so many responsibilities?”   I mean, there are huge responsibilities that come along with all of that, and then there’s the pressure.  I mean, there have been days where I just wake up and I don’t know where to start.   I don’t want to do anything and I’m like, “Can I just—go shopping?” He laughs.

    Class Act: (Laughing) But no, you can’t!
    Olivier: Right! So like, I’ve been asking my friends, “Is this “depression” or is this “overwhelmed” where I wake up and I just want to go back to sleep?
    Class Act: Oh, I’d like to say it’s the latter. But that makes sense. We all get so used to a certain way of life. Then one day we decide to turn everything upside down, shake it, then stand back and ask ourselves, “Now what?”

    Lucien Postlewaite, WhimW'Him

    Lucien

    Olivier: Right!  Exactly!   Also what has changed is that I don’t get my 8 hours of sleep anymore. Which I really loved to get when I was just a dancer; I really needed 8 hours of sleep!  That has come down a lot. Now, I wake up an hour and half earlier, and for more than an hour, I’m sending email and working on the computer.
    Then I take my class; usually after class I have phone calls to make or emails that I have to check.  Then when I have a full day at PNB, usually all I have time to do at night is come back here and finish my work and try to do it on my days off.  When I don’t have too much rehearsal at PNB, usually I’m rehearsing for the show that’s coming up in January, or doing my fundraising, or contacting presenters for future touring, or scheduling rehearsals.
    Recently we had this big fundraiser.  I had a volunteer who did so much work for me, which was great. But after that, I had to write more than 50 cards thanking the donors.  So there’s always work to be done. Constantly people that need to be talked to—lighting designers, composers, dealing with the costumes—I mean, it’s every aspect that I’m working on.  So usually, throughout the day, I don’t stop.
    Vala: It doesn’t sound like it! It sounds like you’re running around like crazy.
    Olivier: Yeah, it’s constant but it’s really exciting, too.  Actually, last night I went and saw a movie.  I mean—I just had to get out for a little bit.  So I started watching the movie, and then I realized—for like a minute—that I wasn’t even watching the movie.  Instead I was thinking about all the things I had to do!  And I was like, what am I doing?  I came here to escape!  So, I told myself just escape and I’ll deal with this in two hours, he laughs.
    Vala: Oh goodness! So were you able to successfully turn your brain off after that?

    Olivier: I was, I was. But only after I caught myself looking at the screen thinking, I don’t know what’s going on! I’m busy thinking about things I have to be thinking about.”

    Coming up in our third installment, Olivier reveals the unique qualities that not only set Whim W’him apart, but also breathe new life into the global (and local) dance community!  Check back soon to read all about it!

    Mark your calendars for the premier of 3 Seasons January 15-17, 2010 at On the Boards.

    By Denise Opper

    Media Relations: Vala Dancewear/Class Act Tutu

  • Whim W'Him! Part One

    Interview: Olivier Wevers

    Olivier Wevers is the embodiment of a classically trained artist. As a Principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Olivier has left his own indelible mark of perfection upon each role he’s portrayed. He is not only a seasoned artist, but a prolific and highly acclaimed choreographer, receiving numerous awards and accolades for his impressive work and unique style.

    Earlier this year, Olivier embarked on an exciting adventure of epic proportion. In collaboration with some of the most highly respected dancers from the Pacific Northwest, Olivier launched Whim W’him, a company designed to “provide a platform, centered around choreography and dance, for artists to explore their craft though innovation and collaboration.” (Quote Whim Whim.org)

    Recently, Mr. Wevers took time out of his hectic schedule to answer a few questions from Vala Dancewear’s media liaison, Denise Opper. In part one of our series, Mr. Wevers reveals the inspiration behind Whim W’him….

    Whim W'Him

    Whim

    Class Act: First of all, I want to thank you, Olivier, for taking the time to do this.  We all truly appreciate it.

    Olivier: Oh, absolutely.  I appreciate it as well.

    Class Act: Let’s begin by discussing the inspiration behind your new company.   What made you decide to go ahead and branch out on your own?

    Olivier: Well, I have been choreographing for  7-8 years and, over the last few years,  I have been getting a lot of commissions.  Which have all been really great, but I’ve also been getting frustrated with how it all works.  You know, you only get a certain amount of time with a certain amount of dancers; sometimes they even give you the dancers. Then usually there’s no budget, it’s always as cheap as you can make it happen, how much product you can produce, and it has to be successful.  The final product has to be successful; they’re not really interested in the process behind it.  It just has to be something that will be enjoyable for the audience.
    Also, when you make pieces on different companies like that, you have to kind of set it to their style and their certain “voice”.  So you have to watch what you do, and make sure it is really going to fit that company.  It’s all been great and I love creating new works, and love working on these kinds of projects, but I’ve been kind of frustrated in my own artistic development, and I wanted to kind of “explore” more.   You know, have more time to rehearse, have dancers that I really admire, and that are really going to push me.  Then I wanted to not have to tell anybody, since this is my company, why I’m doing this or that, you know?  And if I fail, I fail.   I’m the only one responsible. But then that only means that I’m going to have to work harder to get the audience to come back.  I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, and I don’t have to fit anybody’s voice.  I can really do what I want to do.

    Olivier Wevers, Artistic Director - Whim W'Him

    Olivier

    Class Act: That is an excellent reason and answer! You’re right; when you’re working for someone else you have to make it fit their style, their voice.  But sometimes you just don’t have enough time to really get to know their voice, and yet you still have to make that product happen—yesterday.

    Olivier: Right, absolutely! It happens so many times where I’m really crushed for time and I don’t have time to rehearse, so I finish it the day before the show, and they don’t have time to really sink their teeth in.  And it’s choreography that I don’t really get the chance to explore.  It’s like I just throw it at them, like—"there it is, you have it, go do it".    It’s been great that way but now I’m really looking forward to having more time to explore.   Actually with Whim W’him, there was a piece I choreographed in June.   I videotaped it and watched it;   I wasn’t happy with what I ended up with so I just scrapped it completely.  But, really, that’s only a luxury I can afford by running this company and doing this with the time that I have.

    Stay tuned for Part Two of our interview with Olivier Wevers where he candidly reveals how his life has changed since the birth of Whim W’him! You won’t want to miss it!

    If you are in the Pacific Northwest, you can see Whim W'Him at On the Boards for the premiere of 3Seasons, January 15-17, 2010 as part of the Northwest Series. 

    Get your tickets, they are selling fast!

    By Denise Opper

    Media Relations: Vala Dancewear/Class Act Tutu

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