Photo by Renee McMahon
After a decade with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Olivier Wevers is still looking for new variations on the traditions. "I try to find a twist," he says. "I'm sick of seeing the same basic ballet steps, just in a new sequence." One of the ways he's branched out is with a new hobby: skydiving. The other is by creating new choreography for his PNB colleagues, as well as for modern dance troupes in town. Right now, Wevers' choreographic life is on a roll, fueled by curiosity and enthusiasm.
A dancer's education typically involves mentoring by a succession of teachers and coaches (in Olivier's case, in his native Belgium), but choreography is generally self-taught. All your errors are made in public, right in front of the audience. Wevers has made very few of those during a year in which his work has been seen all over the dance community. As a performer, he excels at assignments that combine technical skill with dramatic ability, and it's no surprise his choreography displays that same dual nature. Still One, made for the Seattle Dance Project's inaugural show, was a collection of solos designed around the specific skills of SDP's mature artists, and his Fragments for Spectrum Dance Theater made deft use of familiar arias from Mozart operas, drawing out their expressive potential.
"I'm a Mozart freak, I have my Mozart playlist all the time," he says. Of the work this innovator has made recently, some of the best has been set to Mozart. "I think classical music is so beautiful, and you can give it new life. I think people forget about it, you get all this modern, electronic work—I like to use some of that, too, but the classical music is so rich and deep."—Sandra Kurtz