In addition to having a few days off of work, the other thing I love about winter vacation is that I have time to get to go do one of my favorite things: watch a Whim W’Him rehearsal! And this year, I got to watch the company work with the choreographer Penny Saunders, and I must say, it was a mesmerizing experience.
In the new rehearsal space, which is much smaller than the studios in the old space, I found Ms. Saunders’ choreography to take up all the space in the room, in the best way possible. This piece centers around my beloved Justin Reiter, and I can’t tell you how good it was to see him at the heart of this piece. I missed his presence terribly in the Choreographic Shindig, as he was on the periphery for so much of it, and I missed his beautiful lines and powerful breath.
And speaking of breath, you’ve read numerous times how much I love how breath plays a strong part in the success of a WWDC performance. The company finds a way to breathe together in a rhythmic way that does, in fact, mesmerize me, and Ms. Saunders uses their collective breath to her advantage with this piece.
Mr. Reiter sets the pace and timing of much of the movement with his breath, and the rest of the company follows beautifully. Whether the only one moving, or whether immersed amidst his fellow dancers, his breath can be seen and heard as he takes the journey Ms. Saunders has created for him. His complete control of his powerful, yet lithe body to isolate and flow through Ms. Saunders’ choreography is going to take your breath away, I promise you. It’s everything I love about the way Justin moves, and can’t wait for the actual performance to see the growth he will have between now and then.
I’ve called this piece Canon in P, because Ms. Saunders utilized numerous canons throughout the piece, each more unique and interesting than the one before. And the company, lined up differently each time, elevates something as simple as a canon to a level of art in that, they are doing the same movement, however, they manage to subtly insert their individuality to each movement creating a soft, yet dynamic symmetry. Sitting in the small rehearsal room, I was completely entranced by all the canons, and I can’t wait to see how beautiful they will look when I’m up in the house watching this piece from a distance. When I said as much to Ms. Saunders, she smiled and said, “Me, too!”
And without giving away too much, I do quickly want to tantalize you with the promise of something ridiculously special waiting for you in this piece if you are wise enough to buy a ticket and come see this show. And that special gift is in the form of a duet danced by the incomparable Patrick Kilbane, and new company member Liane Aung. Mr. Kilbane, one of most stunning dancers I’ve ever had the privilege to watch dance live, has lines and feet that bring tears to my eyes, they are so beautiful. And in Ms. Aung, he has met his match on that front. Ms. Aung’s lines, sweet baby Jesus, and her extension are the stuffs that dance lovers’ dreams are made of, and her feet are so gorgeous, that I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about them, they are that spectacular as she finishes movements with her long, graceful fingers, or the exquisite point of her toe. These two technical masters, these two emotionally open artists, these two breath-taking dancers have a section in this piece that absolutely transported and affected me. I won’t tell you which feelings I felt, or where their beautiful moment took me, as I don’t want to color your experience, but trust me, people, you want to see this! You need to see this!
Whim W’Him’s next show, Sensation opens on Jan 20, and runs through Jan 28. Please start your 2017 off right by indulging your senses in this show. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed! I’ll be there opening night showing my support for my favorite Seattle Based dance company, and I do wish you’d join me.
Ciao for now,
Photos from Whim W’Him’s website and Facebook Page