Dance News

The Farewell—But Not Yet Goodbye—of Wendy Whelan

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.

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