Wheeldon works with Royal Ballet dancers on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Thanks to his innovative pas de deux, skillful use of space and lush musicality, Christopher Wheeldon has become one of the ballet world’s most in-demand choreographers. Born in Somerset, England, Wheeldon trained at The Royal Ballet School before joining The Royal Ballet in 1991. He soon moved to NYC to dance with New York City Ballet, but eventually realized that choreography was his passion, and became NYCB’s first resident choreographer in 2000. Seven years and 16 ballets later, Wheeldon founded his own company, Morphoses, for which he choreographed six more ballets. He left Morphoses in 2010, and his already busy freelance career picked up even more speed. Last spring, he choreographed the hugely popular Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for The Royal Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada. Today, you can see Wheeldon’s dances performed by nearly every major ballet company in the U.S. —Amy Smith
Just a few words of wisdom, now that I have grown up a bit and have some ballets under my belt. First of all, if a great choreographer like Sir Kenneth MacMillan gives you advice, listen. Remember when Sir Kenneth said to practice your craft and take every opportunity you can get? Do it! Oh, and he said not to worry if the ballets aren’t all good. He was right—they won’t be—but that’s OK, because every new ballet, good or bad, holds the key to the next idea, the next good one. It may take three, four or five trips down
the road, but don’t give up. You’ll find it!
Watch other choreographers—how they work, how they translate music into dance—and, as you’re a dancer yourself, see the ballets you dance from the inside out. Feel the music. This will be the key to your choreography as
Finally, be good to your dancers. Allow them the freedom to create with you. Sometimes they’re wrong, but when they’re right it can be magical. Choreography is about collaboration, and dancers are much more than bodies there to be created on. Draw out their personalities in the movement.
Older But Only Marginally Wiser,
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.