Olivier Wevers is a man with a mission—and a serious love of dance. Earlier this year, Dance Magazine followed the Whim W'Him director though a day of tech rehearsals at Seattle's Cornish Playhouse for our latest episode of Behind the Curtain. While we'd long admired Wevers' choreography, getting up close and personal gave us a whole new respect for the man. Why?
1. He's found the secret to success. Rumor has it that Wevers recently expanded his seven-year-old company from a pick-up troupe to a serious employer for dancers: They were put on payroll as employees (rather than independent contractors), which came with a significant raise and the establishment of a new healthcare fund.
At an audition, PC Kyle Froman
2. He treats his dancers as true collaborators. One of Whim W'Him's annual concerts is curated by the dancers themselves. Called "Choreographic Shindig," the program—playing at Seattle's Erickson Theater September 9-17 this year—includes works from three emerging choreographers that the dancers chose after reviewing around 100 applications.
3. He gives his all. About that "secret to success": Wevers is a plucky, tireless spirit whose life is devoted to his company. In our Behind the Curtain episode, he works from 8 am until midnight, fitting in administrative work at home, cutting dancers' costumes, overseeing rehearsals, giving notes. No, it's not an atypical schedule for a director/choreographer. But he also finds time to extol the talents of the choreographers and dancers he hires while fitting in everything else.
Ah, Seattle real estate
4. He lives in a lake house. And we're very jealous.
5. He's not afraid to admit his shortcomings. A creative workaholic, Wevers admits he has trouble getting rest. "Sleep is rare. It's a big problem for me," he tells us. "And right now when I'm in the theater and I have 16 and a half hour days...shutting down my brain is mission impossible."
6. His choreography looks like it'd feel amazing on your body. His partnering sections in particular have an organic, natural feel to them that never looks forced or awkward. The ooey-gooey twists and turns of his imaginative contemporary work is like candy for dancers. More, please!
Olivier Wevers as a student, photo via whimwhim.org. (Sorry, it was too cute not to share.)
Mention "flamenco" to anyone in the Cuban dance scene, and they are likely to bring up Irene Rodríguez. Artistic director of Compañía Irene Rodríguez, Cuba's premiere flamenco company, Rodríguez has shared the stage with such renowned flamenco artists as Eva Yerbabuena, María Juncal and Antonio Gades. She is also a faculty member at Havana's Fernando Alonso National Ballet School, and has served as a choreography consultant at Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.
Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.