Wendy Whelan to Leave New York City Ballet This Fall; Joins New York City Center for Two-Year Residency
Wendy Whelan, whom The New York Times has called "America's greatest contemporary ballerina," has danced with New York City Ballet for nearly 30 years. With the company, she has mastered Balanchine's neo-classical repertory, dance classics such as Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake and created works with many of today's leading choreographers. Following hip surgery and a successful recovery period, Whelan, 46, will return to City Ballet this spring season and will dance her final performance with the company on October 18.
Having reached the height of her field, Whelan launched the Wendy Whelan New Works Initiative in 2012 with Restless Creature, a suite of four duets, each with its own distinct style and artistry, created by Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo with whom Whelan also performs. Information on new and rescheduled tour dates is below.
The second project that is being developed will be an evening of new works for Whelan and Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Edward Watson. The production will be co-commissioned by The Royal Ballet and New York City Center, among others, and co-produced by The Joyce Theater Foundation and Sunny Artist Management. The world premiere, presented by The Royal Ballet, will take place in the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House in London in July 2015. New York City Center will present the North American premiere in the spring of 2016 at City Center. Choreographers and collaborators, along with an international tour, will be announced at a later date. In addition to co-commissioning and co-producing the project with Edward Watson, The Joyce Theater Foundation will continue to serve as the fiscal sponsor for the Wendy Whelan New Works Initiative.
"I got to know Ed Watson about 7 years ago while working for Christopher Wheeldon's Morphoses," said Whelan. "I was immediately drawn to Ed because of his integrity; his down to earth manner and his incredible sense of humor. In 2009, Chris made Whither Must I Wander, a lovely, but all too brief, duet for us to the music of Martha Wainwright. It left me wanting more. Ed is a dancer, like myself, that craves creative collaboration and exploration. I'm eager to take him on this particular journey with me.
Kevin O'Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, said, "I am delighted that we are co-commissioning this new project bringing The Royal Ballet's Edward Watson and Wendy Whelan together, both of whom are extraordinary artists and it will be fascinating to see the results of this creative collaboration."
Whelan and New York City Center also announce that she has been appointed Artistic Associate at New York City Center. For two years beginning on November 1, 2014, City Center will be her home for developing future projects, including her collaboration with Edward Watson. As Artistic Associate, Whelan will enrich the City Center community with interactive outreach and engagement activities.
"We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting new phase in Wendy's career by providing her with a creative home," said New York City Center President & CEO Arlene Shuler. "We look forward to having Wendy join us as Artistic Associate and having her part of the City Center family. We are especially delighted to be presenting the North American premiere of her new project with Edward Watson in 2016 and are pleased to be working with our friends at The Joyce Theater and The Royal Ballet to make Wendy and Ed's collaboration possible."
Linda Shelton, Executive Director of The Joyce Theater Foundation, said, "The Joyce Theater is happy to be continuing our relationship with Wendy as she explores new artistic projects. We have supported Wendy and the artists she is currently collaborating with for several years and we look forward to the next steps and helping to develop the project with our friends and colleagues at City Center, Ed Watson and The Royal Ballet."
Restless Creature, whose Spring 2014 U.S. tour was postponed due to Whelan's lengthier than anticipated recovery following hip surgery, will have it's U.K premiere, presented by The Royal Ballet, in the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House in London, July 22-26. A previously announced performance of Restless Creature will take place at the Vail International Dance Festival on August 6. From January-May 2015, Restless Creature will tour to 12 U.S. cities including San Francisco; Atlanta; Chicago (rescheduled); Chapel Hill, NC (rescheduled); Princeton, NJ (rescheduled); Cleveland; San Diego, CA; Long Beach, CA; Davis, CA; Burlington, VT; Scottsdale, AZ; and Tulsa, OK. Performances details, venues and rescheduled dates for The Joyce Theater in New York and The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts will be announced at a later date.
Wendy Whelan studied at the School of American Ballet. She began with New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 1984, become a member of the corps de ballet in 1986 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1991. Whelan has performed a wide spectrum of the Balanchine repertory and has worked closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets. She has originated featured roles in 13 ballets for Christopher Wheeldon, as well as in the ballets of William Forsythe, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei and Twyla Tharp. In 2007, Whelan was nominated for an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for her performances with Morphoses/Wheeldon Company. She has been a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and with the Kirov Ballet. She received the 2007 Dance Magazine Award, and in 2009 was given a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University. In 2011, she was honored with both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance.