By Chris Heide
Whim W’Him has done it again. The contemporary dance company, which started in 2009, continues to evolve artistically, solidifying its position as one of the premiere dance companies in the nation. Now in its 8th season, Whim W’Him has developed a true sense of direction and identity. Artistic Director Olivier Weavers continues to push the limits of the company, the result of which is both exhilarating and exciting.
Configurate is the latest iteration of Wevers’ artistic brilliance. Like most Whim W'Him shows, Configurate is broken into three acts, with each act produced by a different choreographer. Love, connection, empathy and transformation appear to be the themes that transcend the entire program.
The show opened with a beautiful piece by Gabrielle Lamb, a New York based choreographer. As the opening number of the show, “Joinery” is actually the weakest of the three presented throughout the evening. It is not a bad number by any means; it features beautiful partner work, extremely angular movement and heavily nuanced choreography, executed to perfection by Whim W’Him's pool of elite talent.
The second piece is the most emotionally evocative. Choreographed by Wevers himself, “6 Love Letters” is a stunning ode to the different types of love a person can experience . The number is broken into six shorter segments, with each highlighting those varied loves. The love for an ex, the love for a father and mother, the love for a brother, the love for the “one”, the love for one’s self; these are all explored in a haunting, intimate and deeply affecting manner. Truth be told, it might just the best of Wevers’ original choreography; the piece is stock full of emotion, whimsy and Wevers’ trademark partnering.
The final piece of the program comes from Ihsan Rustem. “Seed” seems to tell the story of a young man, whose life is examined a series of vignettes. What is unusual about “Seed” is that it contains an abnormal amount of in-sync group choreography, a deviation from Whim W'Him’s normal aesthetic. It is some of the quickest and most technically advanced choreography that I have ever seen featured in a Whim W’Him production.
Another interesting note for the program is that veteran dancer, Karl Watson, is very clearly now Whim W’Him’s star player, following the departure of Patrick Kilbane at the end of last season. Watson is featured heavily throughout the evening. This is of little surprise, considering Watson’s growing technical proficiency and radiating charisma.
Given that Whim W’Him is rapidly approaching a decade of existence, it is important that the company continues to push itself artistically. One of Whim W’Him’s strongest talents is the creation of works which produce an intellectual and emotional reaction within its audience. If Configurate is any indication, then Whim W’Him is absolutely moving in the right direction.