(Albert Evans farewell with Wendy Whelan in Herman Schmerman pas de deux. Photo by Paul Kolnik.)
There are few dancers working in the world today with the longevity of career and architectural beauty of Wendy Whelan. Having started her career at New York City Ballet in 1986 during what turned out to be the last year of Balanchine’s time there, Whelan’s training was steeped in the traditions of the Balanchine style, and she has become known as the “quintessential Balanchine ballerina who never worked with him.” She passed him, in the hall once, her first year. Over the last quarter century, however, Whelan has performed over 25 different Balanchine works and, as the generation of Balanchine dancers she trained with have gradually retired, she has helped the new generation of NYCB dancers discover that ephemeral combination of emotion and technique that helps Balanchine stay fresh for a new generation.
(Wendy Whelan and TA in Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. Photo by Erin Baiano.)
It would be a mistake, however, to imagine Wendy as strictly a neoclassical muse. Recently, choreographers from Christopher Wheeldon to Alexei Ratmansky have been eager to center their new works for the NY City Ballet around her unique strengths. Her list of world premiere credits has begun to rival her Balanchine bona fides. Which is all the more reason we are delighted to invite her to Oregon for Dance United.
Here’s a Tendu TV interview with Wendy, talking about New York City Ballet after Balanchine:
Take a peek at Wendy performing in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain:
And last, but certainly not least, here is Wendy’s take on the Arabian Coffee character from Balanchine’s Nutcracker (filmed for broadcast on PBS in 1993):
Dance United will perform on June 9th at 7:30 pm at the Keller Auditorium and will feature dancers from around the world including couples from San Francisco Ballet, The Dutch National Ballet, Miami City Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet.