written by CHRISTINA CAMPODONICO
“Ballet is woman”—George Balanchine
If ballet is woman, then is woman also ballet?
Who is that woman?
Wendy Whelan is a woman. She is an heiress of Balanchine. She was a New York City ballerina.
She is now a “Restless Creature” on the move.
Movement I: Ego et tu
Alejandro Cerrudo is the first of four choreographers to be with Whelan.
He is an artist, a painter & sculptor of space.
She is his paint brush, a lithe & lyrical stroke, a muse, a strip of ethereal air in the dark.
Yet Cerrudo is the master, like Rembrandt.
And she is his student—to be taught & educated.
Are they really equals?
Movement II: Conditional Sentences
Wendy Whelan is angular like a stilted sentence.
Joshua Beamish is witty like a curly-q-pun.
There is syntax & grammar, commas & stresses, accents, amid style, vocabulary in diction.
Their dance is a conversation.
Or is it?
Beamish is an inspector with a critical eye.
His eyesight is voyeuristic. It is razor-like & penetrative, like a severe grammarian.
Whelan is a performer, yet also a technician.
She is precise & pointed, but she is also puppet on a string.
Her performance is his pleasure—a sight to be seen.
If Wendy Whelan is the woman to Joshua Beamish’s Balanchine, what then is ballet?
Movement III: The Serpent and the Smoke
Kyle Abraham is in motion.
He is a slasher, a hostile helicopter, an angry karate kid, an angst-ridden man.
Wendy Whelan is his opponent. Her spider-thin legs are wide apart—a cross between sumo wrestler and ballerina—in deep plié.
Abraham is low to the ground, crouched—ready to fight.
Their dance is a battle.
There is no contact, only competition.
Movement IV: First Fall
In a yellow dress, Wendy Whelan is alone.
Then, Brian Brooks is behind her.
They are a tangle, a Gordian knot of perpetual motion—seemingly inescapable and forever interwoven.
But the tangle is also an unraveling—a decline into tilted horizons.
She—in a state of continuous descent. He—there to break her fall.
Together, they are a sunset.
Restless Creature is an evening-length work featuring duets by Wendy Whelan and four up-and-coming, contemporary choreographers – Brian Brooks(Brian Brooks Moving Company), Kyle Abraham (Abraham.In.Motion), Alejandro Cerrudo (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago) & Joshua Beamish(MOVE: the company). Restless Creature is Whelan’s first contemporary dance project after retiring from a thirty year career with City Ballet.
Restless Creature visited California State University Long Beach’s Carpenter Performing Arts Center on Saturday, February 7, 2015. For information about the Restless Creature Tour www.wendywhelan.org