It may seem that the stork dropped Wendy Whelan at New York City Ballet's doorstep--but she was actually born in the small city of Louisville, Kentucky. Though she never got the chance to meet Balanchine, she was familiar with his neoclassical style when she arrived at the School of American Ballet. She credits Robbie Dicello at the University of Louisville Dance Academy for instilling in her a working knowledge and love of the famous ballet-maker.
"He was so smart; he raised our intellect and desire to understand more. He had a great love for Balanchine's choreography, and in Louisville at that time, we didn't see a lot of that. He taught us about Concerto Barocco, Four Temperaments, Agon--and we were only 12 or 13 years old. We learned the part of the Russian girl in Serenade. He taught us to look past the classroom. As a young dancer, it's important to go to books and videos and learn for yourself about these ballets."
Whelan will perform four contemporary duets with the choreographers Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo in the world premiere of Restless Creature at Jacob's Pillow, August 14-18.
Photo by Paul Kolnik