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Whim W’Him Modern Dance Middle Opens in Seattle

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Poring via constructing codes, making use of for permits, and selecting inside finishes isn’t what creative administrators normally do. However Whim W’Him’s Olivier Wevers has been doing that and extra whereas renovating what was previously a church into the Whim W’Him Modern Dance Middle in Seattle. With roughly 15,000 sq. toes, it is without doubt one of the largest company-owned facilities for modern dance in Washington. “I dreamt of a sanctuary for modern dance,” says Wevers, “an area with excessive ceilings and no poles or posts, standard however sensible. And that dream now breathes inside these partitions.” 

Whim W’Him had been in search of studios—roomy, open areas in location—to lease since earlier than the pandemic. However with the prices of state-of-the-art flooring, lighting, and sound programs simply totaling over $140,000, Wevers says, “investing in an area you don’t personal appears very perilous.” When the corporate started trying to purchase, a church was an apparent selection. Along with the architectural advantages, “many church buildings had been available on the market after the pandemic,” Wevers says, “and so they’re additionally in household neighborhoods that might entice college students” to Whim W’Him’s faculty. 

Olivier Wevers stands with arms crossed in front of a grey-white building slightly blocked by shrubbery and trees. A steeple emerges from behind the tree.
Olivier Wevers outdoors what’s now the Whim W’Him Modern Dance Middle. Photograph courtesy Whim W’Him.

Whereas the transform, overseen by architect Owen Richards,­ saved the house’s lofty ceilings, it required eradicating some partitions and including others to create a 2,000-square-foot studio and one other half that dimension, in addition to workplace house, a kitchen that doubles as a gathering room, a foyer, and storage areas for costumes and units. The corporate participated in planning the half-million-dollar renovation, with the dancers designing their very own lounge and altering room. There’s additionally an area on web site for them to work with a bodily therapist, who is obtainable to them after rehearsals.

The brand new constructing additionally boasts a faculty for all ages and talents with modern, improvisation, hip hop, repertory, and physique therapies among the many preliminary class choices. “It’s about dance for all ages, all ranges,” Wevers says. “Dance for all with no skilled hook.” Wevers additionally plans to supply extremely sponsored or free house for native artists, in addition to full scholarships for BIPOC dancers to courses and packages.

The middle is a powerful accomplishment for a comparatively­ small and comparatively new unbiased modern dance firm—however perhaps not all that shocking given the consistency with which Whim W’Him has made new work and carved out an inventive area of interest in Seattle. Wevers, who celebrates 25 years as a choreographer this 12 months, loved an enormous following as a Pacific Northwest Ballet principal earlier than beginning his personal firm. Since its 2009 founding, Whim W’Him has premiered 88 items and commissioned 45 visitor choreographers in simply 14 seasons, together with a wholly digital 2020–21 season that was profitable sufficient to make sure will increase in dancer salaries and advantages at a time when pandemic mitigations left most firms dealing with important monetary challenges.

Reaching this level “took years of constant work,” says Wevers, “proving we might preserve our core mission of creativity in addition to our excellent of elevating requirements of firm look after higher moral modern dance employment.”

Whim W’Him’s observe report has helped its fundraising efforts for the middle. To fund the acquisition and transform, the corporate obtained a hefty mortgage from an nameless donor and a present of $250,000 from the Jolene McCaw Household Basis, in addition to good financing. A Fall Fete early this season noticed 200 folks contribute over $250,000. The corporate has additionally inspired smaller items via its “Butterfly Impact” capital marketing campaign, via which donors can fund particular line gadgets, like mirror set up, one sq. foot of flooring, or a single lightbulb (the most cost effective possibility, at $6), “making it enjoyable and reasonably priced for everybody to take part,” says Wevers.

The primary occasion within the accomplished constructing occurs this month—an open home that can characteristic free neighborhood courses, workshops, performances, lectures, and constructing excursions. Earlier than then, “the corporate was simply tenting—the constructing nonetheless regarded very very similar to a church, full with a choir balcony and dais,” says Wevers. “Now, it’s a world-class heart for dance.” 

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