Visiting Ballerina Melody Herrera practices for Shadows, Raincoats & Monsters
This week, Intiman Theatre has been full of the sounds of dance as Whim W’Him rehearses for their upcoming Seattle debut of Shadows, Raincoats & Monsters this weekend. Pointe shoes deftly racing across the stage, music rising along the back of the auditorium, and choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa calling out cues from her place in the house.
Not only was I lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the rehearsal (get your tickets NOW, people), I was also able to snag a Q&A with the lovely Melody Herrera, a visiting principal ballerina from Houston Ballet, who will be performing in two of the pieces this weekend.
How long have you been dancing?
I’ve been dancing pretty much as long as I can remember. I started when I was three—doing tap, jazz and all that, and I didn’t get into classical ballet until I was nine, and once I was into that there was just no turning back. I was totally in love and committed and more serious about it than anything I’d ever done…even at nine. It really was the perfect fit for me.
How did you get involved with Whim W’Him, and Shadows, Raincoats and Monsters?
Olivier’s husband, Lucien Postlewaite and I grew up together in Santa Cruz, and we started dancing together when we were 10-years-old. In my very first Nutcracker I was Clara and he was the prince, so we just started dancing together from then on out. That’s how I met Lucien, and thus Olivier.
Last summer I got a call from Lucien saying that they wanted to see if I might be available to come and do this project with them, and we went through all the paperwork asking for days off, seeing what days they would need me, and it just all worked out.
Which pieces do you dance in?
There are three pieces and I am in two out of three. I am in Monster and Cylindrical Shadows.
The various works deal with universal themes such as relationships, social exclusion, and personal monsters. As a dancer do you find yourself relating your experiences with these through your movement on stage?
Yes. Absolutely. My monster really hits home for me, and it makes it very real and it makes it actually really hard. It puts me in a place where I wouldn’t necessarily want to go, or a place that I’m not so vulnerable or transparent about to just anyone. So to put that on stage is a hard place to go, but I’m loving it.
We just did a little sneak peak in New York last weekend, and that was obviously the first time we performed it, and when we finished and I went back stage and I lost it, I just completely broke down. It was just really nice to be experience that with these people that I’m so close with—to feel so safe and at the same time so exposed.
Do you think this is an easy work to relate to, even for someone who hasn’t had much exposure to dance?
Yes. I feel like it’s crystal clear. I think sometimes when works are abstract that people can take away a lot of different meanings, which is good, and that will happen with this one too, but I think it will be clear to every single person watching what emotion and what thought and what the feeling of the piece is. It’s pretty intense.
What has it been like working with Olivier and Annabelle and the entire Whim W’Him team?
It’s been…fabulous! They are all amazingly gifted artists and very giving and genuine and honest, and very down to earth. Everyone has an ego I’m sure, but you just don’t feel like that’s an obstacle here. Everyone is bringing their best work ethic and the best of themselves every day and I am completely blessed to be a part of it.
Read Bond Huberman’s article covering early rehearsals HERE.
See video of the rehearsals on our multimedia page.