The eponymous sofa, in its Seattle incarnation, has at last made its grand entrance into the Whim W’Him rehearsal studio. A royal-purple velour Victorian settee, it commands at least as important a role in Olivier Wevers‘s The Sofa* as any of the dancers. It is graceful and statuesque; it is also heavy, long, and awkward to move about.
The logistics of getting it to various exact spots on the stage at precise moments in a complex score are not easy. Like any queenly star, the sofa can be treacherous.
“Be careful, pay attention, it’s dangerous,” Olivier warns, as eight dancers, of varying heights, pick it up and propel it rapidly around the floor.
They also have to pile up on it, lift it high for the lead couple to process underneath, tip it over, crawl under, and secure ropes so it can rise to dizzying heights above the stage.
All in the precise, clean, and incredibly quick spirit of Mozart‘s exquisite Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major, K.271. “It’s frustrating,” Olivier encourages, “but that’s the work. You’re getting there—it’s looking good!”
The Sofa is quintessential Wevers. Elegant and sophisticated, clever and droll, the piece plays with tensions between convention and individuality, teasingly touches on gender complexities, makes sly references to other ballets and displays new takes on partnering, both comical and poignant. In a captivating combination of insouciance and solemnity, The Sofa goes right to the heart of Mozart’s concerto, opening it out into the 21st century as fresh and universal as when the 21 year old composer wrote it 235 years ago.
Happy Thanksgiving from Whim W’Him—and the sofa!
*The Sofa debuted last April at Grand Rapids Ballet Company www.grballet.com.
It will premiere at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre January 18-20, 2013, as part of Whim W’Him‘s Crave More program. Tickets will go on sale soon. Save the dates!