Canon in P: Brilliant Creativity by Penny Saunders on Whim W’Him

Dance Show Promotional, Entertainment Review

14993564_10157676467865035_242998834512113789_nIn 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 004-bamberg-fine-art-1200x1800incomparable 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 007-bamberg-fine-art-1200x1800match 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 14962572_10157676466410035_9115623630654052940_nstart 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,

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Photos from Whim W’Him’s website and Facebook Page

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Broadway Bound’s Elf: Perfect Mix of Adorable & Professional

Entertainment Review

I wouldn’t normally review a children’s theatre show because, well, I’m me, and we know how judgy I am, and contrary to popular belief, I would not enjoy making small children cry.  So, when I headed to SMT’s theatre space in Magnusson Park on Saturday night to support the daughter of a colleague of mine who is performing in Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre’s production of Elf, I was off duty, and just there as a patron to watch some kids have some fun on stage.  However, I was so impressed by the professionalism of this adorable cast that I had to put fingers to keys and tell you about it.

First of all, I applaud Broadway Bound for taking on 3 casts of kids, because as someone who spent almost a decade working on a summer teen musical program, I know how hard it is to put a show together with just one cast!  And they do it with three.  I had the privilege of seeing Cast 2 perform, and the things you’d expect in a children’s show were all there.  Cute kids, check. Adorable elf costumes, check. Simple blocking and choreography they can all manage, check. Opening night nerves, check. Proud families, a supportive audience, and children running in the aisles, check, check, check.  The entire cast maneuvered through the well-known story of Elf with super cute enthusiasm, and looked great in their outstanding costumes whether as elves, Santa, businessmen and women, or  as family members.  However, a few shining stars stood out.

Tatum Poirrier, who played Charlie the Elf absolutely stole the show for me.  This little one is not only tiny and adorable, but is very talented.  She worked those tap shoes like nobody’s business, delivered her snappy, sarcastic lines with impeccable timing, and managed to be very much in the moment of each scene she was in.  She made choices, good choices, from character to character that she played, and I was highly impressed. Good job, little one!

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Also Rose Hunksor who played Mr. Hobb’s assistant, Deb, was fantastic!  She had wonderful comedic timing!  She understood the role beautifully and brought a depth to each scene she was in that showed craft and talent well beyond her years. Bravo!

Lastly, I really enjoyed Ryan Musehl, who played Santa.  His dry line delivery cracked me up and was such a fun choice.  Kudos to him for pulling that off with a consistent performance all throughout the show, even when he was having serious issues with Santa’s hat in the final sleigh scene.  He didn’t break character at all, just worked through the struggle and stayed in character the whole time.  Well done, you!

But the main reason I wanted to write this review was because I wanted to publicly applaud the entire cast, especially Max Zorn who played Buddy, for managing to masterfully maneuver through the myriad of technical problems that were rampant through this show.  Buddy’s mic went out multiple times, and while Mr. Zorn didn’t project as much as he needed to for me to hear him back where I was sitting in row N, he didn’t break character or get thrown or stop.  He pushed through, showing poise and gumption well beyond his years.

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Additionally, when the paper shredder didn’t work, he again didn’t falter, didn’t break, didn’t stop, he just improvised and it was brilliant.  He set a great example for the rest of the cast, and they all followed suit.  The lead of a show should be a leader, and young Mr. Zorn was definitely that on Saturday night.  I don’t know this child, but I was so proud of him for performing with the utmost professionalism.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Mia Kunins, who is the child I came to see, and thought her colorful elf, and sassy businesswoman were well done!  Also, I found out that Ms. Kunins was given new lines early that morning, and with such a short turnaround time, she delivered them so well!  She was also in quite a few scenes where there were technical difficulties, and she never broke, once!  Not even when another actor wasn’t where they needed to be and she stumbled on stage.  She didn’t break character, just got back up and kept singing.  Bravo!

The tech issues didn’t stop there.  There were lighting/blackout timing issues, mic issues where the sound tech left mics hot for cast members who were backstage and you could hear the little ones whispering and chattering away in the house distracting from what was going on during the scene on stage, and Santa’s sleigh got set wrong and when they tried to pull it off it got caught on the set.  Sigh.

While this was opening night for cast 2, it was the second night for the production team, so I’m hoping they get things fixed and work out the kinks because these kids are working really hard on stage, doing really good stuff, and they deserve to have a clean tech.

Elf runs two more weekends, and if you’ve got little ones in your household, andelfposter you want something fun to do with them this holiday season, take them to see Elf.  It’s really cute and a lot of fun to watch.

I give this a big Bravo to the kids, and thunderous applause  for their outstanding professionalism in the face of major technical difficulties!

Ciao for now,

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