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Wendy Whelan -- Into The Future

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I'm very interested in where Wendy Whelan is headed dance wise.


Wendy Whelan in slow motion is the Wendy Whelan that I love most.


This is my favorite dance clip of her, of which I've seen very few.




This is the only complete work that I've seen of her from her new Restless Creature effort. It starts at 56:00 and relates to the above video best starting at 101:00.




Any thoughts or comments on this and where she's headed.


(both dance clips are official releases)

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I've been watching the second clip above and I'm liking it very much starting at 1:03:40. These last several minutes are perhaps the most interesting and show a lot of promising future direction. There have been four short clips posted by Wendy Whelan's new production, Restless Creature, and they give a brief insight into how she is working with the four choreographer/dance partners she has chosen. In this clip with Brian Brooks she seems to be the most comfortable and the closest to her old self. This might be confirmed by the fact that it is the piece she chose to present at the Works & Process at the Guggenheim*. Here rather than trying to enter the world and minds of her contemporary dance choreographer/partners, which is her stated intent, she seems to play off what he is doing. Each with their own style seems to work together and compliment each other, rather than be each other. In addition the explorations into motion and meaning that Wendy Whelan is making seems to show up quite well in these last several minutes of dance, blending very well with her long existing excellence in airy elegance and sensitivity.

What also interests me very much is the way that she has been carrying ballet sensitivity and beauty outside of ballet. For instance in Christopher Wheeldon's After The Rain (first video above) there is little if any pointe work of the feet. Working with Christopher Wheeldon and now perhaps somewhat parallel they are both extending the range of ballet.

* There was at least one other work performed as well.

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This clip shows Wendy Whelan and Fang-Yi Sheu, former principal dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company, working on a Christopher Wheeldon piece set to "This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight" (2011). You see a direction that Wendy Whelan and Christopher Wheeldon are moving in and their bringing classical and contemporary more together. Fang-Yi Sheu, shows us a contemporary dancer entering the same world from the other direction.


Wendy Whelan says to Fang-Yi Sheu,


"You made Chris's choreography look like it's different than he's ever done, ever, and that was really cool to see, so I think that you took Chris to a new place."



(posted by the Vail International Dance Festival)


An expanded version can be seen on Vimeo.



This lovely ending, with Wendy Whelan, to Christopher Wheeldon's Liturgy is similar to what I once saw in a Chinese 'classical' dance, perhaps another direction for these two artists and western dance to explore.



(posted by official source)


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There is one other duet in the Guggenheim program (second video posted above at 19:00). I overlooked it but am enjoying it more and more with each viewing. This is Joshua Beamish's Waltz Epoca. For one thing it just flows so nicely and Wendy Whelan nuances it beautifully.


Both Brian Brooks and Joshua Beamish are very exciting and interesting dancers. It's to Wendy Whelan's great credit, being a newcomer to this sort of thing, that she really hangs in there. Not only that, but with real praise to her dancer/choreographer partners, she very prominently and equally shares the spotlight.


[last sentence was reworded]

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Beamish has been making some very interesting dances -- he was part of a mixed bill here last year, and seems to be getting around elsewhere. It's tough to get established as a new choreographer.

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The big news in this interview is Whelan's plan to retire "after the fall 2014 season" at NYCB. (Has this already been announced elsewhere?) I wonder what they'll do for a retirement performance for her - hottest ticket in town, I would guess!

http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2013/11/13/whelan-discusses-career-dance/

After 30 years with the NYCB, Whelan plans to retire from the company after fall 2014.

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Tickets went on sale today for Whelan's Restless Creature program at the Joyce Theater in New York City. The engagement is during the first week of April 2014.

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I see on the Carpenter Center for Performing Arts (in Long Beach, CA) website that Wendy Whelan will be performing Restless Creature during their 14/15 Season, in February 2015. I'm not sure if other tour dates have been scheduled, but it seems like the motions are in place to tour Restless Creature in 2015, and to tour it to places that were not originally announced.

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At 9pm EST tonight (in 15 minutes) on the NYC Life channel (WNYE) is a program called "Wendy Whelan: Moments of Grace". It's about her life and career including behind the scenes footage.

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I saw Wendy perform both After the Rain and another Christopher Wheeldon piece called This Bitter Earth last year. But, It wasn't the Restless Creature program, her contemporary pieces were sandwiched in by a few more classical ballets, all danced by N.Y.C.B. dancers. She was the obvious star of the night, and wore only soft ballet shoes with no tights. It was truly very beautiful she seemed completely at ease. Some time after the performance, I found a New Yorker article that talked about her turning down the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy multiple times because she thought she wasn't pretty enough. This sort of broke my heart at the time but I'm glad she discovered her style at the end of her career and got to share it with us.

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Due to popular demand, the Joyce Theater has added one performance to Wendy's Restless Creature program. The added show is Saturday May 30 at 2 PM.

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These two informal performances should speak for themselves.

“This Bitter Earth” starts at 1:50. “After the Rain” starts at 14:10.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8D316-KMBU8

(posted by the NYCityCenter, the performance site)

Oh thank you!

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Yes, these really are beautiful performances, sandik. I had tears in my eyes the first time that I watched them.

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I've seen a number of dancers in the duet from After the Rain (my home company does it) but it's always special to something performed by the person it was made on.

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From what I can tell, sandik, not only was After the Rain "made on" her, but she also did a lot of the 'making' as she probably did with the other works "made on" her by Christopher Wheeldon. For me, not only is it special to see "something performed by the person it was made on," but in Wendy Wheelan's case she's one of the very best in the world at this sort of thing. I once saw a brief video clip of a Kabuki actor and the soulful expression of his basic humanity was mind boggling. At times at the Mariinsky I've seen Alina Somova and Oksana Skorik perform with similar personal depth and beauty, but it's not exactly the heartfelt depth of Wendy Whelan, it's more transcendental.

[spelling correction made]

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Alert to anyone who bought tickets to Whelan/Watson "Other Stories" at NY City Center, scheduled for March 2016. I just got an email from City Center stating that the performances are cancelled to "accomodate the artists' schedules". Didn't they know their schedules before they signed the contracts?! If you bought by credit, you are automatically refunded on your card. However if, like me, you paid cash at the box office, you have to schlep back to the box office with the tickets to get your money back. :angry2:

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