January 27, 2017
Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center
By strength of its longevity on the dance scene and of its contribution to it, Whim W’Him represents artistically one aspect of the new order among dance creations of today.
Presenting one of its strongest programs, Artistic Director Olivier Wevers commissioned two really very strong choreographic creations, in addition to his own, Catch and Release. The only thing that might have made the overall program better was to have re-ordered it — Wevers’ piece was dark and disturbing and would have best been presented as the middle work, rather than the concluding one, as it left us going out into the chilly and black Seattle Winter night feeling too cold.
The show opened with play-by-play, an idea, personified by Penny Saunders set to the music of Mozart, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, concluding with Dvorak. Saunders clearly took her assignment seriously and made a dance that had what I might call “real choreography,” as opposed to the swoop and twirl variety that too often plagues our stages. Saunders’s work is a beautiful dance, beautifully danced by Whim W’Him’s excellent, excellent artists, each with a quality or attribute to bear: The Idea, Justin Reiter; Doubt, Patrck Kilbane; Grace, Liane Aung; Time, Karl Watson; Passion, Tory Peil; Folly, Jim Kent; and Prudence with Jia Monteabaro. This one is a keeper, for sure — one that should be presented again. It received a well-deserved standing ovation from the enthusiastic audience.
Larry Keigwin’s Line Dance cleverly and smartly used various iterations of just that — straight lines across the stage, diagonal lines, single dancers coming in and out of these lines, lines of various numbers, lines that turned. If straight ballet has its “ballet blancs,” perhaps we could easily say this work might be representative of contemporary dance’s “white dances,” as it was costumed all in white and was brightly lit white. Line Dance is a light, fun, and very kinetic work that should also be seen again.
In stark contrast was Catch and Release, clearly a work about relationships — or lack thereof. This work was in stark contrast not only in terms of content but also the mood, lighting (dark), and the black costumed corps of dancers who tormented poor Tory Peil, costumed in gold (representing purity, perhaps?). This piece left Peil’s character dazed and hassled on stage, probably wondering “what happened?” and “why me?” or “what did I do to deserve this?!”
Wevers has assembled some of the best dancers to work with and they, in turn, give Whim W’Him outstanding work and performances that truly represent the new order of today…and perhaps too, tomorrow.
Next up for Whim W’Him is its Spring show, with the intriguing title, approaching Ecstasy, to be performed with live music by The Esoterics and the Skyros Quartet. June 2-10, 2017. www.whimwhim.org
Be sure to mark your calendars, now!