RESTLESS CREATURE: WENDY WHELAN

What little dancing we do see is lovely to watch, but it's also lovely to see a performer who once seemed to have an iron grip on the barre finally learn how to be gracious and let go. Washington Post

Seeing Whelan move with grace and elegance across the stage is as much storytelling as you need, but this all access documentary paints a full portrait and explains her importance in the field. Detroit News

RESTLESS CREATURE: WENDY WHELAN
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Linda Saffire & Adam Schlesinger (USA, 2016)
90 Minutes

 

RESTLESS  CREATURE:  WENDY  WHELAN offers  an  intimate  portrait  of  prima  ballerina Wendy  Whelan  as  she  prepares  to  leave  New  York  City  Ballet  after  a  record-setting three  decades  with  the  company.  One  of  the  modern  era’s  most  acclaimed  dancers, Whelan was a principal ballerina for NYCB and, over the course of her celebrated career, danced  numerous  ballets  by  George  Balanchine  and  Jerome  Robbins,  as  well  as  new works by more modern standout choreographers like Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky; many roles were made specifically for Whelan.  As the film opens, Whelan is 46,  battling  a  painful  injury  that  has  kept  her  from  the  ballet  stage,  and  facing  the prospect  of her  impending  retirement  from  the  company. What  we  see,  as  we  journey with  her,  is  a  woman  of  tremendous  strength,  resilience  and  good  humor.  We  watch Whelan  brave  the  surgery  that  she  hopes  will  enable  her  comeback to  NYCB  and  we watch her begin to  explore the world of contemporary dance, as she  steps outside the traditionally  patriarchal  world  of  ballet  to  create Restless  Creature,  a  collection  of  four contemporary vignettes forged in collaboration with four young choreographers.  Throughout  Linda  Saffire  and  Adam  Schlesinger’s  riveting  documentary,  we  watch Whelan grapple with questions of her own identity and worth. Historical footage shows her  dancing  as  a  very  young  girl  in  her  hometown  of  Louisville,  Kentucky,  then  as  a teenager on her own in New York and, finally, as a rising ballerina with the company. ͞’If I  don’t  dance,  I’d  rather  die’—I’ve  actually  said  that,  says  Whelan  at  one  point  in  the film, as she talks about leaving the only environment she knows, and facing what comes next. Whelan’s  unflinching  honesty,  her  tireless  determination,  and  her   winsome attitude—along  with  her  breathtaking  dancing—make RESTLESS  CREATURE:  WENDY WHELAN  not  just  a  fascinating  portrait  of  an  artist  grappling  with  change  but  also  a delight to watch.



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Week of October 20th - 26th


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