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ECSTASIS: Approaching ecstasy (with Whim W’Him)

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ECSTASIS: Approaching ecstasy (with Whim W’Him)

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In this highly-anticipated reprisal with Whim W’Him, The Esoterics is excited to present Approaching ecstasy, a concert-length dance collaboration based on the life and poetry of the Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy.  This “tryst ballet,” which was composed and will be conducted by Founding Director Eric Banks, will be sung by The Esoterics, accompanied by the Skyros String Quartet and harpist Melissa Achten Klausner.  Approaching ecstasy will be choreographed by Whim W’Him’s founding director Olivier Wevers, and will feature 7 dancers from his company, as well as Casey Curran’s set design on the stage of the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. The seeds for this collaboration were planted in the summer of 2008, when Banks traveled to Egypt, and while in Alexandria, visited the home of his favorite poet, Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933).  Upon his return to Seattle, Eric met Olivier (who was then still dancing at Pacific Northwest Ballet, before he founded Whim W’Him), and shared a number of Cavafy’s poems with him.  Cavafy’s work immediately appealed to both, and inspired them to create this collaborative piece around the life and work of the poet. In Approaching ecstasy, Banks has set eighteen of Cavafy’s poems –  in both the original Greek, and in his own English translation.  These poems describe Cavafy’s secret life as a gay man living in Egypt a century ago.  The poems that Banks chose are vivid portraits of Cavafy’s lovers as well as his friends, “expressions of fear, hope, remembered love, and excruciating beauty.”  Cavafy’s verses are clandestine, courageous, intensely intimate, and inspire hope for the openness of a future society. Wevers’ choreography will interpret the sensuality and sincerity of the poet’s desire, as well as express the frustration, danger, and oppression that Cavafy must have experienced in his daily life.  The Esoterics will be singing in alternating Greek and English, with both instruments and a cappella, in ensembles that range from a quartet of singers to the entire choral complement.  Banks’ score incorporates North African musical influences (including Egyptian maqamat and muwashahat –  scales and rhythmic patterns) in juxtaposition with Western musical elements –  to represent the cultural confluences of Alexandria at the turn of the last century.

This event, which is produced by Whim W’Him, is not to be missed!

Friday | 2 Jun 2017 | 800pm | Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center | 201 Mercer Street | Seattle
Saturday | 3 Jun 2017 | 800pm | Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center | 201 Mercer Street | Seattle
Friday | 9 Jun 2017 | 800pm | Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center | 201 Mercer Street | Seattle
Saturday | 10 Jun 2017 | 800pm | Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center | 201 Mercer Street | Seattle