Wendy Whelan

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Wendy Whelan
Born (1967-05-07) May 7, 1967 (age 50)
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[edit]

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 Whelan joined the 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 has performed as a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and with the Kirov Ballet.

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 solos and duets. Each duet is danced by Whelan together with its choreographer.

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

Whelan was appointed an Artistic Associate for developing new projects at New York's City Center.[when?] Whelan has also been an artist-in-residence at Barnard College.[when?]


Wendy Whelan is particularly known for her angular body and muscularity particularly suited to the Balanchine style. However, with Balanchine's death in 1983, the day of the SAB spring workshop's performance of "Western Symphony" in which she debuted in the corps, she only had encountered him once, the previous year being her first at the SAB. [4]



The ballerina has openly spoken about conquering scoliosis after being diagnosed at age 12.[5][6]

Following 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.

Personal life[edit]

Whelan married photographer David Michalek in September 2005.[7] They reside in New York City.

Originated roles[edit]


  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. ^ Whelan, Wendy (2017-05-23). "The First Time I Danced a Balanchine Ballet (the Day He Died)". The New York Times. New York: NYTC. Retrieved 2017-05-29. 
  5. ^ "Dance Magazine". Thefreelibrary.com. 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  6. ^ "Amazon.com". Amazon.com. 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  7. ^ NY Times Article

External links[edit]