What is it like to juggle obligations to two companies, especially such different ones as Pacific Northwest Ballet and Whim W’Him?
In the recent PNB Don Quixote, principal Lucien Postlewaite danced Basilio, the lead male role, in several performances. During his busiest days in January, when both PNB and Whim W’Him were rehearsing, Lucien says that at times other dancers, exhausted from working full time for just one company, would exclaim, “How do you do it?”
So how do you? I ask him.
“Well, sometimes in the middle of both, I think how is it possible to do it all? I tell myself you just have to get through it; and I remind my self to be smart about how I use my energy. The second part is the most important, otherwise, I can get easily overwhelmed.”
At such moments, Olivier Wevers (Whim W’Him artistic director/choreographer and married to Lucien) tells him, as he does all his dancers, “Just take it one step at a time.”
“One step at a time,” Lucien concludes, “is a good lesson for new roles at PNB, and I take it to lots of places in life.”
That’s the method, but Lucien’s real motivation seems simpler and deeper:
“I love it,” he says, “I love pushing myself. Mostly I don’t think ‘how am I going to get through it all?’ I just do what there is to do now, then go on to the next thing and the next. I’m an intense person. I like that, I thrive on it—and when it’s done, I miss it.”
But he smiles and adds, “with Don Q, I was doing half day rehearsals (with run through or specific scene rehearsals in either the morning or evening block of rehearsal time), and so I had a bit more time. Now I’m learning three new works for PNB’s next program, and with that schedule it wouldn’t be possible.”
It’s a good thing, therefore, that Olivier, recently retired PNB principal himself, understands the rhythm of work in a major ballet company and creates for his own, much smaller ensemble when there is more down time.
Up next: more from Lucien and Andrew on living in two worlds of dance