Whelan in George Balanchine’s Mozartiana (Paul Kolnik)
Wendy Whelan shapes performances the way architects shape buildings: intelligently, coolly, with an eye to internal structure as well as outer beauty. Now New York City Ballet’s senior principal, Whelan has fascinated choreographers and audiences alike during her nearly 30 years with the company.
Born in Louisville, KY, Whelan began studying dance with a local teacher at age 3 before focusing more intensely on ballet at the Louisville Ballet Academy. A summer at the School of American Ballet in 1981 led to an invitation to enter the school full-time. She joined NYCB as an apprentice in 1984 and moved swiftly through the ranks, reaching principal status in 1991.
Recently Whelan, long one of ballet choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s muses, has also begun collaborating with contemporary artists, including Stephen Petronio. Catch her in classical mode with NYCB this month—then see her perform four new contemporary pas de deux in her own concert this summer. —Margaret Fuhrer
Whelan at age 12
Believe it or not, I have lots of compliments for you. I’m so proud of the way you have applied yourself personally and professionally to all your studies as a young dancer.
You’ve realized you must give up a lot of things other kids are doing in order to focus your mind and body on your goal. I know it’s uncomfortable to feel in school like you’re different from the others because you’re so serious about your goals at such a young age, but this discomfort is going to pay off. Stay disciplined, keep that trust you have in yourself and remain open. And be kind to your friends, because that will pay off, too. Developing this balance early will prepare you for a long and happy career.
One thing I worry about is that you tend to “beat yourself up” more than necessary. I see this as a weakness in you, something you need to rethink. That’s a lot of wasted energy you could be putting toward other parts of your artistry. All this struggling doesn’t accomplish what you think it does. Once you get a handle on it, you will gain the power to face challenges with a positive attitude. Make these challenges about fun and
learning. Keep your sense of humor. Stop looking at yourself from
the outside (as a critical viewer), and look instead from the inside out (as a scientist experimenting, searching for answers). That will keep your passion alive for longer than you could ever imagine.
Dance on with joy. You are a lucky girl.
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.