Former American Ballet Theatre principal Michele Wiles, a picture-perfect ballerina, has had a career packed with accolades and critical successes. At age 10, the Baltimore, MD, native moved to Washington, DC, to train at the Kirov Academy of Ballet on full scholarship. She won a gold medal at the 18th International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria; received the 1999–2000 Dance Fellowship from the Princess Grace Foundation–U.S.A.; and earned the Erik Bruhn prize in 2002. After joining ABT's Studio Company in 1997, Wiles quickly rose through the ranks—she was promoted to the corps in 1998 and earned principal status in 2005. She danced with ABT for six more years before deciding to venture out on her own. Currently, Wiles serves as artistic director, dancer and choreographer at BalletNext, the NYC-based company she founded in 2011. Catch her performing in the company's shows next month. —Courtney Bowers
Forget fall galas, forget back-to-school, forget television season premieres: The highlight—no!—the most important event of this fall will be Wendy Whelan's farewell performance with New York City Ballet. The longtime principal will bid adieu October 18, program TBA.
Whelan with former NYCB principal Sébastien Marcovici in George Balanchine's Agon. Photo by Paul Kolnik
Before you reach for your tissues, listen up: This may be a farewell, but it's certainly not a goodbye. She's not hanging up her slippers just yet. In fact, Whelan will tour her work, Restless Creature, to 12 U.S. cities January 2015 through May 2015. Then, she's headed to London to work with Royal Ballet principal Edward Watson (swoon) to create a series of new works which will premiere Spring 2016. So on behalf of dancers and Wendy-Whelan-diehards everywhere, I invite you to breathe a sigh of relief.
Whelan with Craig Hall in Christopher Wheeldon's Fools' Paradise.
Photo by Erin Baiano
Naturally, this calls for a video celebration. First, let's watch Whelan with Craig Hall in a short excerpt from Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain. (OK, grab those tissues now.)
Next, let's watch another Wheeldon creation. This time it's Whelan with Tyler Angle in rehearsal for This Bitter Earth at Vail International Dance Festival. (You'll need another tissue.)
Interested in seeing Whelan's Restless Creature on tour? Get a preview in this video of a Guggenheim Museum "Works & Process" event, where Whelan spoke about the piece with its four choreographers Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. If you're short on time, skip to minute markers 18:12 and then 56:30 for excerpts of the actual work.
Last year, Whelan wrote a Letter to My Teenage Self for Dance Spirit's January issue. Around the same time, a local Kentucky television channel aired a half-hour special, Wendy Whelan: Moments of Grace, which is available online. (Whelan grew up in Louisville before heading to SAB as a young teen.) In addition to amazing dance footage, you'll hear family members, friends and colleagues pay tribute to the one and only, gorgeous, generous Wendy Whelan.
The principal level is the rank every dancer aspires to. But what really goes on once they get there? This episode gave us an inside look at the leaders of the pack at New York City Ballet.
FUN FACT: Ballerinas may make their job look painless, but that's not the case. To keep her body in tip-top shape, principal Ashley Bouder takes B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, magnesium (for muscle tightness and fatigue), Clozapine (for arthritis in her back) and Advil (to reduce inflammation) every day.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "It's not about how high your leg is, how high you can jump, how many turns you did. As an artist, it's not about that. I feel like, if you're in this profession, you should be in it for the artistry. That's what matters to the audience. That's what they relate to. That's what they come back for." —Sara Mearns, principal
Watch every episode now or join in on my one-episode-per-week challenge at dancemagazine.com (Click “Related” in the upper right hand corner of the video to navigate between episodes.)