Wendy Whelan

Wendy Whelan
Born (1967-05-07) May 7, 1967
Occupation ballet dancer

Wendy Whelan (/ˈhwlən/; born May 7, 1967) was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and is a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and the Kirov Ballet and has performed all over the U.S., South America, Europe, and Asia. Whelan has also been an influential guest artist with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company.

Early life

A native of Louisville, Kentucky (USA), she began her dance training with local teacher, Virginia Wooton, at the age of three. At the age of eight and after performing as a mouse in "The Nutcracker" with the Louisville Ballet, she joined Louisville Ballet Academy, where she started formal training. At the age of 12, it was discovered that Whelan had severe scoliosis. To help correct the curvature in her spine, she wore a heavy plaster cast while in ballet class but also strengthened her core and back muscles. In 1981, at the age of 14, she received a scholarship to the summer course at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, joining as a full-time student a year later.[1]


Wendy joined NYCB in 1984 as an apprentice and entered the company's corps de ballet January 1986.[2] She was promoted to soloist in 1989, and to principal dancer in 1991.

She has a repertoire of more than 50 ballets, including pieces by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe, Christopher Wheeldon, Shen Wei, Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky, and others.

Whelan is particularly known for her angular body and muscularity particularly suited to the Balanchine style. However, with Balanchine's death in 1983, a year after Whelan arrived at SAB, she only met him once.

In 2014 she announced her departure from the New York City Ballet with her farewell performance being on October 18.[3]

Whelan has been a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and with the Kirov Ballet. She was nominated for an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award in 2007 for her performances with Morphoses/Wheeldon Company. In 2007, she received the Dance Magazine Award, and in 2009 was given an honorary Doctorate of Arts from Bellarmine University. Whelan was honored with both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance in 2011.

In 2012, she began a new collaborative project entitled, Restless Creature. She premiered this project at Jacob's Pillow in 2013. Whelan chose four of today's most innovative and sought-after contemporary choreographers to create dances for her and dance with her: choreographers Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. She has taken this production on national tour. It consists of four challenging and duets. Each duet is danced by Whelan herself, and the choreographer of that piece. After an accident in 2012, Whelan began experiencing pains in her right hip. In the August following her performance at Jacob's Pillow, Wendy had reconstructive surgery on her hip to correct a labral tear. After months of rehabilitation and physical therapy, Whelan completed the 2014 season with NYCB.

Additionally, Whelan was appointed an Artistic Associate at New York's City Center, which is where she will develop upcoming projects. Whelan is also an artist-in-residence at Barnard College.


The ballerina has openly spoken about conquering scoliosis after being diagnosed at age 12.[4][5]

Personal life

Whelan married photographer David Michalek in September 2005.[6] They reside in New York City.

Originated roles

Ulysses Dove

Jorma Elo

Albert Evans

William Forsythe

Peter Martins

Wayne McGregor

Alexei Ratmansky

Jerome Robbins

Lynne Taylor-Corbett

Christopher Wheeldon


  1. "Wendy Whelan - New York City Ballet". Nycballet.com. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  2. Kourlas, Gia (9 August 2013). "A Ballerina in a New Realm". New York Times. New York City, United States. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  3. Sulcas, Roslyn (2014-10-03). "Wendy Whelan Says Farewell to City Ballet". The New York Times. New York: NYTC. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  4. "Dance Magazine". Thefreelibrary.com. 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  5. "Amazon.com". Amazon.com. 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  6. NY Times Article
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.