Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
June 8, 2018, evening
Transfigurate Program: Stickers, Duck Sitting, Silent Scream
Bug pieces make great fodder for creativity as PNB’s hit with Crystal Pite’s Emergence clearly shows and which Pascal Touzeau’s Stickers for Whim W’Him also nicely demonstrates.
The program note refers to “[a] primordial colony of creatures…” and it was fun watching the cast’s interactions as this played out. Touzeau is French, and while I couldn’t spot anything overtly native, it was dense, quick, and alternated in droves and smaller groupings.
Fun, strange, and nearly science fiction-like in its feel and action, Stickers was fascinating to watch, but I would not want to meet the creature therein in my corner of the universe.
Duck Sitting was Danielle Agami’s choreographic offering, and if Stickers was quick and dense, Agami’s piece was truly so with the dancers sometimes moving so fast — in super sharp contractions for instance, that they were nearly a blur. The dancers were very very impressive. Duck Sitting displayed creative movement language that seemed fresh and serious. It is a welcome addition to Whim W’Him’s ever-growing repertoire.
Charlie Chaplin’s influence continues to extend to today, inspiring Artistic Director Olivier Wevers to create his Silent Scream, which is at its heart a cry against bad politics and bad politicians and for treating people well. Using a speech from Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator, Chaplin’s plea against tyranny was almost too much (his intonation not only increases in volume, he practically screams it). It probably would have more power today, if read differently.
Wevers began the piece humorously by starting lightly but also with some against-type and clever casting: Cameron Birts in a dress, who, having a very high natural instep and arch, came across looking like he/she was in very very high heels and Mia Monteabaro dressed up like Chaplin’s poor beggar. Then Wevers takes the piece in a very different direction, and using cast member Jim Kent’s ability to play the violin, has him play a sweet sentimental tune that steers the work to its serious message and conclusion.
Cast members also included: Liane Aung; Adrian Hoffman; Tory Peil; and Karl Watson.
I wanted to give a special shout out and tribute to Peil, who, as I understand it, is giving up concert dancing. This, then, is her last season with Whim W’Him. Peil is an amazingly gifted dancer and performer whose mercurial ability to switch from light to serious and for whom no level of technical demand seems too much, will be sorely missed. Her tendu front in Stickers for example, with arms up in a “V,” was like no other. A ferocious dancer — commanding, authoritative, and superb, she’s also a dancer wit a great face and open smile that has invited audiences in for many years. Thank you, Tori!
Whim W’Him has announced its next season for 2018-19 and it promises more creativity and works that most likely will challenge and engage.