Hieronymus Bosch, The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things
Alone is the devil premieres May 29-31, 2015.* In Whim W’Him director Olivier Wevers‘s newest piece, the traditional Seven Deadly Sins are the taking-off point—not literal but as inspiration and raw material—for an exploration of the self and of the temptations that beset our lives. The music is Christopher Rouse’s 1984 Symphony No. 1. The “sins,” to which to some degree we are all prone, will appear in this new work in the order above. Between the first five and the last two, there is a lovely adagio passage in the music which Olivier is calling “Acceptance.” It encompasses both admission of our complex nature which lures us into negative behavior and recognition that we are social animals who, nurtured and befriended, can perhaps together fend off the demons.
Jim Kent, who has stood in as a representative of humanity in previous Olivier works such as 3Seasons and Crave, also dances the one whose fate is followed in Alone.
The other dancers here are aspects of him, devils, demons, monsters—sometimes companions, lovers, friends—but also their own individualities. “You’re all the Jim person and yourselves,” Olivier continually stresses. To this end, all six, Justin Reiter…
Kyle Matthew Thomas…
and Tory Peil…
are working to infuse their movements with the peculiar flavor of the creatures they are devising (or discovering). Justin’s sometimes has a wide-legged squatting stance and distorted facial expressions; Lara says hers is “something small, a tick,” and so on…
Jim will be clothed minimally, in neutral shorts and ‘wife-beater’ tank top. The others’ dresses, tights, suits (each one different) are to be black, likewise their hands (via stage makeup with powder to keep it from coming off, providing better tactile sensation and much less heat than gloves). “If you want to wear black in rehearsal,” Olivier says at the first rehearsal, “it would help me with the visuals.” The theme of darkness will cover their heads as well, in a manner suggested by the rather creepy Magritte painting, The Lovers.
Face-covers, being designed and constructed by Mark Zappone, will be of a thin material that conforms to the shape of face and neck, with holes only for eyes. The blanking out of the dancers’ personal human features transforms them into creatures surrounding the Jim person—assaulting him, caressing him, yet all manifestations of himself.
The dancers will share the stage with a tall metal frame on wheels that can hold 6 removable magnetized shapes, jagged like shards of glass. When fitted together in order, they will form a looking glass on one side and a painted figure on the other. Objects to be coveted. A mirror for the narcissist. Masks to hide behind. Perhaps weapons or gifts?—the possibilities of the separated pieces are still being explored in the studio.
Olivier moves beautifully. His hands and arms, especially, are always articulate.
I like watching him show what he wants, then seeing how differently the sensibility of each dancer embodies it.
He stops to think and you can see the idea moving through his head.
Again and again, Olivier asks for connection, continuity, so that nothing occurs in jerky separate steps or poses—from the abstract idea of companionship saving someone from inner demons to the concrete motions of the dance—but all is integrally bound together.
*Whim W’Him: X-POSED – Brown Paper Tickets