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Tag Archives: Lucien Postlewaite

  • Whim W'him Delivers '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

  • Dance Vacations

     

    Courtesy of La Vie Photography Houston Ballet principal Melody Herrera and Lucien Postelwaite rehearsing a new work by Annabelle Lopez Ochao with Whim W'Him, a new Seattle dance company directed by Olivier Wevers.

    Courtesy

    "Vacations are better put to use as immersion excursions. Apparently, I am not the only dance nerd in town. Others are spending their precious down time doing just what they love, dancing. For this crop, summer seems to be more about changing the where than the what."~Quote Nancy Wozny, CultureMap.com

     

    This article was just too good to keep to ourselves! Nancy Wozny of Culture Map-Houston, reveals what some of the world's top dancers are up to this summer. Our favorite dancers of note include Whim W'him's Olivier Wevers, Lucien Postlewaite, Melody Herrera and Annabelle Lopez Ochao!  You can read all about it here.

  • 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

    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 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.

    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.

    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: Whim W’him—3 Seasons

    Whim W'Him's 3Seasons, Kaori Nakamura

    Whim

    Olivier Wevers and his newly formed company, Whim W’him have done what no other dancer, choreographer or company has done before. The Seattle-based tour de force has shattered the glass barricade that once stood as the dividing wall between the world of ballet and the realm of modern dance, ushering in a new era of collaboration and artistry.

    Whim W’him’s sold-out performances at On the Boards this past weekend packed an intoxicating punch of sound, light and movement. The triple bill featured Wevers previous works, X-Stasis (PNB’s Choreographer’s Showcase 2006) and Fragments (Spectrum Dance Theatre 2007), as well as the world premiere of 3 Seasons, Wevers first major collaborative effort.

    X-Stasis

    X-Stasis is comprised of 5 couples making a unique statement about their world and their relationship to one another. Standouts from this performance include Jonathan Poretta and Lucien Postlewaite’s pas de deux which sizzled with poetic tension. Their execution was both complimentary and contradictory; a raw, edgy rendition of the proverbial yin and yang.

    Whim W'Him's X-Stasis, Jonathan Poretta & Lucien Postlewaite

    Whim

    Chalnessa Eames dazzled in a delightful piece that felt a bit like an avant-garde rendition of Coppelia. Let’s just say her partner, the helpless mannequin, was no match for her seductive charms!

    Kaori Nakamura and guest artist, Karel Cruz (PNB Principal Dancer) were utterly spectacular. Their pairing was exuberant, crisp and well-balanced; the perfect blend of power, delicacy and joy.

    Fragments

    Fragments begins with a sweeping aria playfully mimicked by an amusing pair of friends. Kelly Ann Barton’s (Spectrum Dance Theater) and Vincent Lopez’s movements were light, fluttering, and beautifully in sync. Together they encompassed all that is childlike and well--whimsical, from their “twittering” hip rolls, to their playful dashing about the stage.

    Whim W'Him's Fragments

    Whim

    Following the playful antics, Vincent Lopez gave a commanding solo performance as a tortured soul, longing and yearning to be free. Moving effortlessly through a series of well-crafted poses, Lopez is transformed into a living sculpture, relishing in its temporary freedom. Costumes by Christine Joly de Lotbiniere provided a delicious hint of Baroque flair, while Michael Mazzola’s thoughtful lighting cast the entire piece in a distinct, Renaissance glow.

    Last but not least, was 3 Seasons.

    Never have I seen such a decisive take on our modern world that fused together the elements of style, wit, humor and hope so beautifully.  In fact, I have a feeling that this piece will serve as the springboard by which all other collaborative efforts will be judged, and provide Whim W’him with a prominent position in the annals of dance history.

    The musical score consists of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons paired with a live corresponding movement by Byron Au Yong, which was nothing short of perfection. The tinkling of a toy piano, the hum of the violin and gentle percussion created a fun, exciting, youthful energy.

    Designer Michael Cepress’ vision of pairing vibrant splashes of red on ruddy, human earth tone canvasses provided the perfect backdrop for this piece. The use of his re-designed sculptural collars, wire hanger skirts, and sullied leotards made for a stunning artistic display.

    3Seasons

    3Seasons

    Jim Kent’s portrayal of the covetousness of human nature was thrilling. The object of his desire changes with whatever is put before him; a pillow, a lamp, a keyboard to finally a bird cage, which has to be placed on his head because there’s no more room in his hands. Kent—like society itself—is never content with what he already has, and is continuously seeking, grasping, and vying for more. The act was played for humor which the audience responded with more than a few “been there, done that” laughs.

    Kaori Nakamura is used, abused and finally discarded and yet—she still manages to come out looking like the victor. Her stage presence leaves its own indelible mark of beauty behind.

    Chalnessa Eames was effervescent and sensual. Vincent Lopez was completely brilliant and charming. Jonathan Poretta and Lucien Postlewaite were riveting, powerful, dominating, and fierce.

    Ty Alexander Cheng and Kylie Lewallen were saucy, flirty and breathtaking. Their endless kiss reminded me of a pair of butterflies; lips locked with wings (arms) continually unfurling yet never intertwining.

    Hannah Lagerway and Lucien Postlewaite writhed about in geometric splendor. I was impressed with Postlewaite’s skillful control and Lagerway’s incredible range. Indeed, her presence within this company is the icing on the cake.

    With everything this company has going for it—excellent dancers, respected Artistic Director, dedicated fan base, and a growing list of collaborators—Whim W’him stands poised on the edge of a divine precipice, ready to be launched into the stratosphere.

    Congratulations to you, Mr. Wevers and to your talented team of artists.

    Viva Whim W’him!

    by Denise Opper

    Media Relations:  Vala Dancewear / Class Act Tutu

    All photos © LaVie Photography.  For more amazing photos, visit the LaVie photo blog.

  • 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, Whim W'Him

    Kaori

    Vala: 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!
    Vala: 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.

    Vala: (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?
    Vala: 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

  • Director's Choice, Pacific Northwest Ballet

    The Seasons, Pacific Northwest Ballet's Director's Choice
    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lesley Rausch in the world premiere of Val Caniparoli’s The Seasons, presented as part of DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, running November 5 – 15, 2009.

    From the theater staff to the attendees to the performers, the excitement of opening night was unmistakable. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s introduction of two brand new pieces and a replay of two favorites translated into an evening to remember...

    Pacific Northwest Ballet, DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, running November 5 – 15, 2009.
    All Photographs © Angela Sterling.

    Petite Mort

    The night began with Petite Mort, (French for “The Little Death” and a metaphor for sexual climax), the first work by European choreographer Jiri Kylian to be acquired by Pacific Northwest Ballet. With six men, six women, and six foils the piece has been described as exuding energy, silence, and sexuality. It does just that.

    Petite Mort starts with six men facing upstage backing slowly toward the orchestra pit in silence. The stillness is broken at first only by the sound of the swords cutting through the air. The men partnering with their swords create a dangerous tension and excitement. The choreography plays between the men, the swords, the women and dark, baroque style dresses. These dresses, at times, appear to dance completely on their own. There are some light hearted moments with the foils and the dresses that allowed the audience a laugh and provided a needed respite.

    A special treat in this performance included partnering between two of the company’s married couples: Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza and Lindsi Dec and Karel Kruz. In the sensual pas de deux, these real-life married couples, along with principal dancers Lucien Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura, showcased both precision in movement as well as emotion.

    I look forward to more pieces from this brilliant choreographer.

    The music (Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major - Adagio and Piano Concerto in C Major – Andante) also warrants special mention. With the resignation of Maestro Stewart Kershaw, Allan Dameron is acting Music Director and Conductor. Dameron performed masterfully as both pianist and conductor for this piece.

    Mopey

    This 14-minute male solo of “adolescent meltdown” was first performed by PNB in 2005. The cult classic, performed by soloist, James Moore was pure perfection.

    Moore’s fluidity of movement demonstrated both his raw strength and masculine grace. The agony of the journey from boy to man with all of the temptations and mistakes made along the way was nothing short of mesmerizing.

    For three perspectives on Mopey, see seattledances blog interview with James Moore and two other dancers cast for this run, Soloist Benjamin Griffiths and Principal, Jonathan Poretta.

    The Seasons

    This was the world premiere of The Seasons, choreographed by Val Caniparoli. The Seasons is a balletic allegory of the four seasons danced to the music of Alexander Glazunov (Op.67, 1899). The Seasons is served up against a simple and very striking set and presented with innovative costume design. Both set and costumes were designed by Sandra Woodall. I cannot even begin to describe the brilliance in executing these costume design concepts. Check out this video posted by PNB as a special thanks to the costume shop for a taste:  PNB's The Seasons Costume Preview.

    The Seasons opened in winter and it appeared that it was snowing stars. Thus the magical blend of contemporary and classical ballet began. There were delightful gnomes lighting fires to melt the snow and change the scene to spring. Kaori Nakamura as the Swallow truly took flight—both on her own and with the aid of the Zephyr, Lucien Postlewaite. You could see the fun and frolic in Barry Kerolis as a faun. With its cast of birds, satyrs, fauns, flowers and gnomes, this piece has something for everyone.

    West Side Story Suite

    West Side Story is an abbreviated version of the musical of the same name. Choreographer Jerome Robbins (along with Peter Genarro) extracted this sequence of dances originally for the New York City Ballet in 1995.

    This piece is just plain fun and allows the dancers to try their hand at singing and showing off a completely different style. Principal, Carla Körbes was a delight as the spunky, Anita seeming to be transformed both in looks (her blonde hair covered in a dark wig) and technique.

    PNB’s Director’s Choice runs from November 5–15, 2009.
    Don’t miss it!

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