Monday, 26 August 2013

The Reviews are in for Restless Creature!

Wendy Whelan Embraces Modern Dance at Jacob's Pillow 

"It’s hard to think of another woman who could dance these pieces, by four different choreographers, half so strikingly.  Everything about her is riveting, interesting, unusual, intelligent." - Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times
Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance

At Jacob's Pillow, Whelan is a 'creature' beautifully transformed.

"(Ms. Whelan) is one of those artists who submerge their physical selves into their art in such a way that humanness is, for a few sublime moments, transcended." - Janine Parker, The Boston Globe
Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance

Wendy Whelan, Restless Creature: A Dance Photo Essay by Christopher Duggan

Follow Wendy across campus, backstage, and on-stage 
at Jacob's Pillow during the world premiere week of Restless Creature 
 through the lens of festival photographer, Christopher Duggan

See more of Christopher's work at: Christopher Duggan Photography

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Restless Creature Tour Dates 2014

We look forward to seeing you in the spring during the
2014 Restless Creature tour! 

Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance

March 18, 2014 - McCarter Theatre - Princeton, NJ
March 20, 2014 - The Harris Theater - Chicago, IL
March 22, 2014 - Byham Theatre - Pittsburgh, PA
March 25, 2014 - Power Center for the Performing Arts - Ann Arbor, MI
March 28 - 29, 2014 - Shubert Theatre - Boston, MA
April 1 - 6, 2014 - The Joyce Theatre - New York, NY
April 9, 2014 - Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts - Louisville, KY
April 11, 2014 - Carolina Performing Arts - Chapel Hill, NC
July 22 - 26, 2014 - Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House - London, UK



Sunday, 4 August 2013

Restless Creature: Brian

The fourth and final video featurette in the series by Nel Shelby, 
featuring choreographer Brian Brooks! 

Friday, 2 August 2013

"Choreography in Focus" with Wendy + Wendy

Wendy Perron interviews Wendy Whelan for
Dance Magazine's
"Choreography in Focus"

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Restless Creature: Kyle

Wendy and her collaborators have been working hard in the studio, 
and the world premiere of Restless Creature at Jacob's Pillow is quickly approaching!
Enjoy this third video featurette of four, f
eaturing choreographer Kyle Abraham:

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Restless Creature: Alejandro

 Another fantastic video featurette created by Nel Shelby.  
This time, featuring choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo!


Monday, 8 July 2013

Restless Creature: Joshua

Restless Creature has been quite an adventure for me as both artist and person. As my first major project since arriving in New York, Restless Creature has enabled a number of exciting firsts for my career, namely my first presentations at Jacob's Pillow, The Joyce and the Royal Opera House. After a year of creation, I am eager to share the language that I have created for Wendy with audiences throughout America and the globe. In recent months she has uncovered so many new and intriguing facets of her incredible self. To have witnessed the evolution of one of our greatest artists first-hand has been a most immeasurable gift.

- Josh 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Wendy W. and Wendy P.

I recently met with Wendy Perron to discuss Restless Creature for her Choreography in Focus web interview series at Dance Magazine.

I got to know Wendy P. about 10 years ago when I worked with Peter Boal on his own project, Peter Boal and Co. (He chose me to be part of his 3 member group).  Wendy P. was not only the editor of Dance Magazine back then but still choreographing dances of her own, and she created a beautiful solo for Peter for his show. 

Over the past 10 years, she has become a mentor and a trusted guide for my own exploration into contemporary dance.  She has incredible wisdom and an amazing eye.  She's one of my go-to people for advice on all new ideas. 

So grateful she's in my life and supportive of my new endeavors. She's one of a kind ...Love you Wendy P. !

- Ww

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Wendy with Karen Young, Costume Designer for Restless Creature

Working these days with the amazing Karen Young on our costume ideas ... Feeling very lucky to have one of the best of the best designing my evening !

- Ww

Friday, 17 May 2013

Photographer Christopher Duggan writes about his experience working with the Restless Creature team.

"She is captivating, enthralling, alluring -- I just can't describe how I feel when I watch her dance. It's simply incredible."

"There's just something about Wendy."

Read it all and discover Christopher's work on

Monday, 22 April 2013

Sneak a peek into last week's rehearsal with Wendy and Alejandro. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

If there is one event you can't miss, it's this weekend's Guggenheim Works and Process live streaming of Restless Creature. 

Watch it in the comfort of your home, this Sunday April 14, at 3pm EDT.

Margaret Fuhrer from Dance Spirit Magazine shares her passion and admiration for Wendy Whelan.

"It’s time for another round of How Awesome Is Wendy Whelan ? Let Us Count the Ways!"

Read the full article here.

The New Yorker talks about Restless Creature's special event: Guggenheim's Works and Process". 

Read it here.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Last week, I had an amazing experience working with Kyle Abraham during our first week of residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. We spent more than 3 hours together every day building material for what I would say is, after 6 days now, the bulk our piece.

I wasn't sure what to expect on our first day, since I barely knew Kyle. I didn't know what music Kyle would choose, and I had very little understanding of his unique movement vocabulary or choreographic style. I felt very slow to pick up the material, and I have to say I left the first rehearsal feeling extremely frustrated and nervous that I would never be able to "get" this piece together in my body or mind.

I usually film the material we make each day and resign myself to doing homework, studying the videos, each evening after rehearsal. I would find myself awake at 4am processing sequences of steps in my head.  So far, I have done this for each of the four choreographers I am working with, and it has really helped me to keep up with them and not waste valuable studio time.

Unlike the other choreographers,  Kyle brought in two of his own dancers (Chalvar Monteiro and Rena Butler) to assist him so he could step back and see the work he was creating.  He and his dancers are absolutely breathtaking to watch. ( I think the first couple of days I was probably SO transfixed and in awe watching them, that I couldn't pick up the steps.)

But by day four, Kyle and I were doing run-thrus on our own, which started to build my confidence. Kyle, Rena and Chalvar fed me lots of descriptive imagery in order to explain the movement and soon their imagery began to navigate it's way into my own body, I could feel myself growing into the work, and things started to make sense for me. The piece began to develop beyond Kyle and I, stirring up it's own dramatic intensity and identity by way of the music and steps the more we danced together.  This is the kind of chemistry that will define a work and a partnership.... and with luck it will surface at some point during the creative process.

It's something I always hope for,  but never expect. It's my favorite part of developing a new work, and it's the the whole reason why I have taken on this project, for the simple hope of experiencing this glimmer of profound human connection through creativity.

The unexpected gift of a finding piece designing itself, on the deepest of levels ...  all on its own.

- Ww

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

It's been eight years since Shen Wei and I made Body Study lll. I only decided a year ago, with great hesitation to look at the performance video from 2005 ... I am so glad that I finally got the courage to watch myself tackle this beast of a piece. 

My first thought was,  "what am I  waiting for?  I NEED to dig into this choreography again."

I could so clearly see all the work I had put into the challenge of becoming a "Shen Wei dancer" for that moment, and I was happy to feel such pride in my work. 

I remember how much Shen Wei and I loved working together, all those years ago. We each brought the other out of a comfort zone during the creation of this solo. It was the first and only time he has ever created for a dancer wearing pointe shoes, and the challenge and coordination of his movement was completely new territory for me to try and embody.  

That said, we have always greatly admired one another.  I think we get inspired by each other's energy and artistry, and we each have quite a perfectionistic streak. 

 I'll never forget him telling me that I blink too much while dancing ... And that his dancers don't blink!  :))) 

Today was our first day back in the studio together to work on shaping Body Study lll for our Guggenheim Works and Process performances which take place April 14 and 15. 

Shen Wei hadn't seen the piece in 8 years so it was a real surprise for him that I could show him the whole 6 minute solo.  Afterwards he said, " Soooooo good! ...Now we make even better! " 

It's nice to know that some things will never change.., we picked up right where we left off,  all those years ago. 


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Sneak a peak into last week's rehearsal with Wendy and Josh Beamish.

Huffington Post NYC-Art asked Wendy about the woman who inspires her. 

"The one woman who has continued to inspire me as an artist and human being is Marie Cecile Gibson. She was my ballet teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, from the age of 11 to 14."

Read Wendy's full answer here

The Telegraph (UK) listed Wendy as one of the 10 best ballet stars working today, between Uliana Lupatkina and Mikhail Baryshnikov

Take a look here.

Friday, 22 February 2013

What a thrill to read about all the huge and deserving recognition Kyle Abraham is receiving these days !  He's the REAL thing ... An A list artist who works from his heart. I always knew he was a special one with an extraordinary  voice. 

Glad to read that, like me,  he's the child of a basketball coach.,., Maybe we really will have some complimentary moves on the dance floor,  after all !  


Read Steve Sucato's article (Arts Air) about Kyle Abraham here.

Brian and I had a really great run of our piece today. Whenever he's in town we meet up and go thru the motions to keep our connection and the steps in our body. I definitely feel the work growing each time we get together... It's amazing how things start to gel and become solid over time. It also amazing  to feel our personal connection and our understanding of this particular piece evolving. The "process" is what I love most about dancing ~ the feeling of something flowering ~ it's truly the ultimate for me !


Thanks to our amazing photographer of the day, Jasper Shepard!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Margaret Fuhrer from Dance Spirit Magazine asks her readers to "take a moment to recognize the amazingness that is Wendy Whelan."

Read her article here.

She is pointing out the great work of the Kentucky Educational Television Channel, who recently aired a great video profile of Wendy. 

See the full video on Kentucky Educational Television here

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

One of the many characteristics that makes Wendy Whelan a supreme artist isn't her willingness to take risks. Rather, it's her complete joy in riskiness. At this point in her career, Whelan can do anything-- and the most amazing part is her excitement-- "I absolutely feel a freedom, immense amounts of it!," she says, "... almost too much since it's all new to me, and I am feeling so game to try anything. It's a wonderful, empowering, scary and extremely joyful place to be."  

Her freedom shines while she rehearses a new pas de deux, set by her dance partner,  Brian Brooks.  Brooks, a celebrated contemporary choreographer, has been working with Whelan on the work's development for several months. Their connection seems authentic, fluid, and easy. "We have an awesome chemistry," says Whelan. " I believe and hope this connection translates to the work. I've always been labeled a contemporary ballerina because of my angles and my energy and quirks. I also think ... my way of thinking and how I make my way through the world, adds to this. I have a modern sensibility.  I love to dig, I love grit, and I love to explore."   

Their connection absolutely does translate into the work. The chemistry between Whelan and Brooks looks as natural as any I've seen, and makes for an energy that exudes delicious, lyrical, tensile movement rarely seen on the American stage. 

This section the two rehearse is from a larger work in progress, an evolving, evening-length dance. One of the challenges Whelan welcomes is the work's newness, its unfinished-ness: "The partnering in this piece is definitely still in a developmental phase, mainly because I am not used to Brian's style as a partner. I'm not even used to the design of the piece -- because it's so new.   It's extremely complex with fast partnering, so we are constantly challenging ourselves each time we attempt these new phrases. Many people have compared the first movement of the piece to body-weaving, as that's literally what we are doing with each other physically. We really have to try to be single-minded with two bodies during this section. This challenge takes time when a partnership is new, so we're really trying to think at the same level of intensity and musicality throughout."  

This is just one example of the many nuances that make watching the rehearsal process of this work so exciting and invigorating. We hold our breath as the dancers move together and apart. We let it out because we trust them to exceed our hopes. And they will. Certainly, they will. 

As Whelan tells us-- "Brian has brought new breath and energy to my body, and a new kind of dance puzzle to my mind. It's been one of the most joy-filled and challenging experiences I have ever experienced as a dancer.  To me, as a dancer, there's nothing as delicious to me than a joy filled challenge."   

Don't miss this New York premiere of Wendy Whelan's exciting new project, with a sneak preview at Guggenheim's Works & Process. Is this what balletomanes might expect from Wendy Whelan?  "My hope is to surprise people, and I hope to surprise myself as well," she says. What wonderful, ambitious, inspiring surprises are in store for us!    

--Marika Brussel

Monday, 7 January 2013

We are thrilled to introduce a new collaborator to the blog, Marika Brussel. 

Marika Brussel trained on scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School and at the High School of Performing Arts in NYC. She performed with companies around the country, including Joffrey Concert Group. She has worked with students from 2-101, and has taught at the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, and in the public schools in New York, New Mexico and in Berkeley.  She earned an MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and taught college writing at Hunter College, the College of Santa Fe and the University of New Mexico. She currently teaches ballet at ODC Dance and dance to people with Parkinson's Disease through Berkeley Ballet Theater. 

Here is what Marika had to say as she was attending a rehearsal in New York in December. 

Rehearsal with Wendy and Brian at City Center: December 20, 2012

Philip Glass emanated from the laptop in the corner, as Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks knit themselves together through the center of the studio.
        Music stopped.  
        “Hey!” Brian said.  “Thanks for coming.  I’m Brian”  
        “And I’m Wendy,” she said with a little jig, and a smile that made her look like a teenager.
“Risa.”  An elegant woman in street clothes said.  Risa Steinberg is the special coach working with Wendy and Brian for this duet
        A few minutes later they started working on the piece again. The fluid connection between Brian and Wendy set the tone for their work—easy, easy.  They seemed to read each other’s movements like a first language.  
        Having never seen Wendy in a purely contemporary piece, I was delighted, but not surprised, by the ease and beauty with which she approached and enveloped the work. Bare-footed, in a green leotard—Brooks’ unique choreography moved through her naturally.
        “Sorry, sorry,” each said when a movement was awkward, didn’t work. And went back.
        Each subsequent time the piece grew deeper. Steinberg suggested subtle, brilliant changes, demonstrating her ideas. And the piece connected more.
        Wendy’s face lit in a smile as they serpentined through the room.  Her passion for dance and for this partnership shone with a bright clarity.  She is exquisite.

--Marika Brussel

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Don't miss Fall Falls with Brian Brooks and Wendy Whelan on January 9 and 13, 2013 during FOCUS Dance at the Joyce Theatre.

They'll be performing on Program B with the Brian Brooks Moving Company.!focus-dance/vstc18=program-b