Six Reasons To Love Olivier Wevers
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.)
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.