Thursday, May 15, 2014

Whim W'Him comes to Cap Hill with #unprotected

Whim W'Him (Bamberg Fine Art)

The innovative dance company Whim W’Him is performing its first full-length evening of works on Capitol Hill with eight performances times at the Erickson Theatre. Created by ballet dancer Olivier Wevers five years ago, Whim W'Him has typically performed at what is now the Cornish Playhouse. For the first time, they will move outside of Seattle Center to the 150-seat Erickson, May 15 - 23. They’ll place the first row of seats directly on stage for what sounds like a most “immersive” experience.

Katie Bombico, executive director, says, “One of our goals for this year is to expand our audience in the Seattle area and we chose to go to Capitol Hill first because the demographics really mesh well: young, diverse in age, diverse in sexual orientation. Bringing our work to Capitol Hill will enable more folks to see the art we create. We’ve collaborated with other organizations and businesses on the Hill. We hope to continue to expand and partner with Velocity. That’s a great place in the community to have access to dance.”

Bombico has been supporting Wevers’ concept of a building a company since she saw him dance at Pacific NW Ballet’s Laugh Out Loud and “was completely blown away by his talent and potential. His movement was unique but I could see how people relate to it. I had a moment of, ‘I wonder if he needs help.’ It’s been an exciting journey.”

There are some “firsts” here, too. This is the first time they will have a two-weekend stand. Usually it’s three nights only. They typically have an opening night party and this time will have a “Re-opening night party” for second weekend where the first 50 people in the door will get a condom courtesy of Babeland. This condom that Babeland sells is matched for each purchase with a donation of one to clinics in Haiti. 

Bombico says, “Our production theme is #unprotected, so we’re playing with the idea with Babeland of ‘protection for the unprotected.’” She goes on to describe the three pieces that will be seen at each performance:

The pieces were created specifically to fit the Erickson’s space configuration. Bombico says, "The hallmarks of our mission are innovation and collaboration. So we have three different choreographers. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is returning with a 5th work, her 3rd new creation for us called Les Biches (female deer).  Four women will wear otherworldly costumes exploring females as goddesses with extended fingernails and bald caps.

Andrew Bartee, a current PNB dancer, choreographs I’m Here But It’s Not the Same, which is about the relationship between mother and child and the inevitability of change.

“Olivier will present Above the Cloud. It explores space and trust and virtual connectedness. This one has interesting sets. Seven giant pillows created for the performance that are huge, about 5’ x 5’. He likes to include objects that seem like they are more dancers. It’s his 13th new creation and all seven dancers are in the piece. It’s set to Poulenc’s Organ Concerto in G Minor.”

They are always asked about the name. Bombico says that when Wevers was contemplating a name, he was firm that he didn’t want it to be his name, a common practice of naming.  He is thought of as whimsical and decided that “whim” should be in the name. Bombico informs that Wevers’ husband Lucien Postlewaite (a dancer, himself, who now dances with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo) suggested that the second “whim” have an apostrophe like “with him” and the “w” could also stand for Wevers’ last name.

After every performance there is a post-performance talk-back and audiences are encouraged to stay and ask any questions they’d like. This is their milestone 5th season.

Videos of the company in action are here or here.

Whim W’Him dancers include: Geneva Jenkins, Kyle Johnson, Jim Kent, Mia Monteabaro, Tory Peil, Thomas Phelon, Lara Seefeldt, and apprentice Madeline DeVries.