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….
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?”
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