ww: december 14 – day from hell

By Rosie Gaynor

This was going to be a mash note to dancers in general, based on the dedication and coping strategies (humor anyone? omg, they’re so funny!) that I witnessed at a Whim W’Him open-to-the-press rehearsal last night. How is it possible for dancers to push themselves so hard physically and stay so focused?

But I got scooped by Whim W’Him artistic director Olivier Wevers, whose message to his cast and the invited press tells a much less sappy tale. Here’s the e-mail entitled December 14th—Day From Hell sent out to the cast and invited press folks. It was written on Monday, just post-cheeseburger as far as I can tell.

“Hi all,

Where to start?

I have been looking forward to today since we started rehearsals in June for Whim W’Him.
It was going to be the first complete rehearsal of our 3 Seasons at On the Boards.

Tomorrow, lighting designer, Michael Mazzola, gets in town to work and develop the lighting plot for the shows.
Byron Au Yong, the composer was going to take this opportunity to watch his very first rehearsal, and members of the press were invited for the last 2 hours of rehearsals.
Michael Cepress, the costume designer has been hard at work, building and creating the costumes, this would have been his first sight of the work also.

Well, Life is full of surprises, and lessons.

Of course, the weather is to be responsible…
How fitting that we are working on a show about climate change!?

I was in Lafayette, Louisiana, this weekend, performing my yearly appearance in their Nutcracker.
The shows went very well, Kaori [Nakamura] was my partner for the first time since Louise [Nadeau] retired.
The plan was to fly back this morning, leaving Lafayette at 7am, getting into Seattle around noon.
Rehearsals were to start at 3:30pm until 9pm with my full cast.
Well, somehow, it was decided already at 6am this morning when I got to the airport (4am Seattle time) that it wasn’t going to happen the way I planned!
All day Kaori and I have been chasing time, and flights.
We waited 4 hours at the airport, then were told that our best bet was to get on a bus they chartered to Houston.
5 hours later, on a bus that should probably not be in service any more, in the worst driving conditions (heavy rain and fog) we made it to Houston.
We were told that all flights to Seattle from Houston were full, except the 8:55pm, arriving home around midnight!
My goal all day was to get to rehearsal, I was ready to board anything that would get me in Seattle early enough to be there for at least 5 minutes of rehearsals.
It proved to be totally pointless!

While on the bus, I contacted Shannon and Mitzi from Lafayette Ballet Theatre to let them know about our travel adventures, just for the fun of it.
And they were able to figure out a way to get us seats on an Alaska flight home, leaving at 4:30pm and arriving at 7:05, giving me some time to rehearse!

We barely made the flight, arrived at Houston Airport terminal C (Continental), needed to be at terminal A (Alaska).
They let us on, but we were warned that our suitcases wouldn’t make it.
Kaori grabbed her pointe shoes and makeup, because she has to perform PNB’s Nutcracker tomorrow night, and off we ran through security and to the gate.
By the way, we have not eaten anything yet! The Lafayette airport has no restaurant, or store selling food, but vending machines.
So we had some snacks and a water only all day! And I just swallowed an Alaska Airline cheeseburger, believe it or not, it was awesome!

Anyway, we boarded the flight in the nick of time…
I felt so relieved and excited about getting home and seeing my entire cast at work…
But the day wasn’t over yet!
Because of the fog, also present in Houston, we waited before take off for an hour, delaying our arrival in Seattle to 8:05pm…

Won’t make the rehearsals…

Kaori and I have laughed many times during this day from hell…

The bus’s seat came off, water was dripping inside, the air conditioning was not working and it was hot, while the Lafayette airport was freezing.
I got frustrated and upset also, but ended up letting go.
I am powerless and need to learn patience. Is that the lesson today?
I made Lucien [Postlewaite] take charge of rehearsals, and trust the Whim W’Him artists. They are fantastic, I feel so lucky!
I wish I could be there to support them, but I know that they are amazing, and don’t really need me!? Or do they?
This has definitely inspired me to choreograph works about patience and destiny…
I hope you understand why I wasn’t able to get in touch with you as fast as I wanted to…
By the way, my phone died somewhere in Houston. The 4 hours wait at the airport in Lafayette were spent on Facebook or listening to music.

So, I will not give up, and will run into a cab when we arrive…

Who knows, I might still make it in time for some rehearsals.

Or not!?

From the air…
Olivier”

In the end, Wevers and Nakamura did make it for rehearsal…but just the last 3 minutes. They missed some of the funnier moments, and they missed seeing Postlewaite as stager (he was so good, specific, and supportive). But when they got to On the Boards, Postlewaite was going over the women’s section …and, in another corner, since time is tight, some of the men had started working on a different section on their own…that had to have been gratifying to Wevers to see them working so hard, using every valuable minute of studio/rehearsal time.

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing this letter. As much as I revere Olivier and Kaori, et. al, it’s nice to know that they too get sucked into the vortex every now and then. Ah, life as humans! Who must occasionally subject themselves to air travel! Glad they’re back safe.

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