By Chris Heide
Driven by the talented Olivier Wevers, Whim W’Him begins its 9th season with a quiet bang. After nearly a decade of lush creations, intricate choreography, and innovative storytelling, Whim W’Him has proven that it has mastered the art of contemporary dance.
As it has with the past several years, Whim W’Him’s season begins with the Choreographic Shindig. In the 4th iteration of the shindig, the brilliant dance company once again showcases brand new choreography from talented creators across the globe. That is the thing that allows Whim W’Him to stand out from the pack- they frequently push to celebrate new art, emerging artists and boundary-pushing ideas.
The show opens with a new creation from Alice Klock, entitled Before After, is a beautifully haunting depiction of the ending of one world and the beginning of another. The piece is filled with staccato, disjointed movement that evokes truly apocalyptic change. It’s a piece that represents the uncomfortable movement of any paradigm shift.
The middle piece of the evening is entitled Stephanie Knows Some Great People and choreographed by Brendan Duggan. This piece is a departure from the typical Whim W’Him creation. This segment almost presents as a play- the dancers are each cast as a different archetypical identity you might find at a pretentious millennial party. A good ten minutes of the piece is dedicated to scripted dialogue, with the choregraphed dance not debuting until well into the latter half of the piece. It’s a funny, innovative and relevant look at social nuances and probably one of Whim W’Him most brilliant pieces to date.
The final entry of the night is called Welcome To Barrio Ataxia. In keeping with Whim W’Him tradition, the strongest number of the evening closed out the show. Welcome To Barrio Ataxia, a creation from Omar Román De Jesús, is a frantic, somber and emotionally evocative deposition of the constant changes and struggles that are hallmarks of mental illness. The piece beautifully transitions from high energy group choreography into chillingly beautiful partner work. It is the kind of dancing that one would expect to see on So You Think You Can Dance. The piece proves that Whim W’Him is at its best when tackling dark and socially relevant topics.
Also, of note is the marked change in the markup of the Whim W’Him company. Last season saw the departure of Tory Peil. The 9th season introduces us to a few new faces, while old favorites, such as Jim Kent and Mia Monteabaro continue to shine. Of course, the company’s principle dancer, Karl Watson, is heavily featured throughout the show. His intricate and emotive style of dancing continue to prove why he is a force to be reckoned with.
If you have yet to join the Whim W’Him bandwagon, now is the time to start. The opening of the 9th season demonstrates that some things truly do get better with age.