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Three Questions for Dancer Wendy Whelan on Her New Show

The New York City Ballet star on her modern dance collaboration at the Harris Theater

Photo: Nisian Hughes

Your new show, Restless Creature, pairs you with four contemporary choreographers: Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. How did it come about?

My whole career I’ve worked with a lot of different great choreographers. I realized early on that that is one of my strengths as a dancer. Now, in my mid-40s, those kinds of opportunities come around less often. I wanted to make that available for myself, so I hunted down a really stellar group of young male choreographers.

What were some of the things you felt you had to learn or unlearn?

I had to unlearn the idea of being upright, which is essential to ballet. I had to learn how to drop my weight into the ground, to open up my spine a little bit more. I wanted them to take me into their world and not cater to me. A lot of times choreographers are like, “Well, how does that feel? Where do you think we should go next?” [These choreographers] weren’t wishy-washy at all, which I loved.

Are you interested in doing more nonballet collaborations?

Yes. I have a friend, Shantala Shivalingappa, a renowned Kuchipudi [Indian] dancer, and we’ve spoken over the years about doing something together. It’s like trying on clothes. I see somebody’s way of dancing as an outfit I want to wear.

UPDATE: Restless Creature has been postponed. 

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