Wendy Whelan, whom The New York Times has called "America's greatest contemporary ballerina," has danced with New York City Ballet for 29 years. With the company, she has mastered Balanchine's neo-classical repertory, dance classics such as Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake and created works with many of today's leading choreographers. Having reached the height of her field, Whelan, now 46, is embarking on a groundbreaking journey at an age when most ballerinas simply retire from the stage. She has launched Wendy Whelan New Works Initiative, which begins with Restless Creature, a suite of four duets, each with its own distinct style and artistry, created by and danced with Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo. The work will tour to nine cities this spring including New York, London and Boston from March 18-July 26.
Co-commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and The Joyce Theater Foundation and co-produced by The Joyce Theater Foundation and Sunny Artist Management, Restless Creature gives Whelan an invigorating challenge and opportunity to work within a variety of artists' visions, while expressing her own striking individuality.
"I have a lot of energy, curiosity and desire that I want to keep exploring," says Whelan. "Throughout my career, some of my most exciting moments have happened in the rehearsal studio, creating a new work with a great choreographer. I thrive on the challenge, the exchange, the collaboration and the discovery. These experiences have shaped my artistic evolution and have kept me motivated and fulfilled. Restless Creature is a feast of riches for me. The opportunity to work with four choreographers, each with a distinctive and strong vocabulary that is extremely different from my own. I've always tried to share my vulnerability and imperfections when I perform, and now I want to expose myself even more - that's where true beauty lies."
Each choreographer brings a unique perspective to Restless Creature, sharing his particular movement style and aesthetic with Whelan. With music spanning from Max Richter and Philip Glass to Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir, each duet offers a distinct experience for the performers and audience members alike. The program includes First Fall by Brian Brooks, The Serpent and the Smoke by Kyle Abraham, Ego Et Tu by Alejandro Cerrudo, and Joshua Beamish's Waltz Epoca. All feature lighting by Joe Levasseur, costumes by Karen Young and creative direction by David Michalek.
Following a world premiere Aug 14-18, at Jacob's Pillow, Restless Creature will travel to the following nine venues and cities, several of which have a personal connection to the creative team:
- The McCarter Theatre Center, in association with the Lewis Center for the Arts, will present a performance on March 18 in Princeton, NJ.
- The Harris Theater in Chicago, IL will present a performance on March 20. Chicago audiences are familiar with Cerrudo's work as resident choreographer for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
- On March 22, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will present a performance at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, PA, where Abraham was born and raised.
- The University Musical Society of the University of Michigan will present a performance on March 25 at the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor, MI.
- On March 28 and 29, the Celebrity Series of Boston will present two performances at the Citi Shubert Theatre in the heart of Boston, MA, a city close to Brooks's hometown of Hingham and where he first began his dance training.
- The Joyce Theater Foundation, a co-commissioner and co-producer, will present the New York premiere over six performances, April 2-6, at The Joyce Theater in New York City.
- On April 9, The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts will present a performance at the Brown Theatre in Louisville, KY, where Whelan began her dance training at age 3.
- Co-commissioner Carolina Performing Arts will present a performance on April 11 at Memorial Hall at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- The Royal Opera House will present the UK premiere over 5 performances, July 22-26, at the Linbury Studio Theatre in London.
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