17 July 2014 at 11.17am | Comment on this article
American dancer Wendy Whelan has long been regarded as one of the world’s top ballerinas, famed for her artistry and her striking muscularity. In April 2014 she announced her plans to retire from New York City Ballet – a company she has been with for 30 years. However, while Whelan’s incredible career as a classical ballerina may be drawing to a close, she's far from hanging up her dancing shoes. Restless Creature – four duets created by young choreographers, who dance their creations with Wendy – marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for this versatile dancer.
Here is a selection of our favourite moments of Wendy’s performances currently available on YouTube.
Whelan enrolled at the School of American Ballet in 1982, just a year before its founder, the great George Balanchine, died. Whelan met Balanchine just once, but she is considered one of the supreme exponents of his style. Here, she performs the Arabian Dance from Balanchine’s production of The Nutcracker:
Five Movements, Three Repeats
Royal Ballet Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon has collaborated extensively with Whelan. They danced together during Wheeldon’s time a soloist with NYCB, and she later became his muse, creating roles in 13 of his ballets and performing regularly as a guest artist with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company. Here she and NYCB principal Tyler Angle are in rehearsal for Five Movements, Three Repeats:
Outside of the theatre, Whelan starred in the 2010 dance film Labyrinth Within, by the award-winning Swedish dancer/choreographer and filmmaker Pontus Lidberg. In this excerpt she dances with Lidberg himself:
And finally, a glimpse of what's in store for Royal Opera House audiences when Whelan brings her Restless Creature to the intimate surroundings of the Linbury Studio Theatre later this month. Here, she works on and discusses her duet with choreographer Kyle Abraham:
Which are you favourite Whelan roles and videos? Who would you like to see her collaborate with in the future?