Orzeck Artist-in-Residence, Wendy Whelan


World-renowned ballerina Wendy Whelan joins Barnard College as the inaugural Lida Orzeck ‘68 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence. In this position, which she holds through May 2017, Whelan is offering ten master classes, a mini-course in Spring 2017 and taking part in two public conversations.

 As a New York City Ballet dancer for more than 30 years, Whelan is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading ballerinas. Since retiring from New York City Ballet in 2014, she has gone on to serve as a New York City Center Artistic Associate and has developed a number of new collaborative projects.  The first, Restless Creature, toured internationally in 2014 and 2015 to sold-out houses.

In March 2015, Lida Orzeck, Ph.D., endowed The Lida A. Orzeck ’68 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Fund with a substantial gift. Orzeck is the cofounder of Hanky Panky, which report estimated annual sales of $50 million and employs approximately 165 people.  She currently serves on the Barnard board of trustees and has given generously    to the College for years, including a scholarship fund in her name, support to the annual Athena Film Festival and many other initiatives.

Monthly master classes
January 27, March 3, April 7, and May 5
3:00-5:00pm, 305 Barnard Hall
For high intermediate and advanced level dancers

WENDY WHELAN, the inaugural Lida Orzeck Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where at the age of three she began taking dance classes with Virginia Wooton, a local teacher.  At age eight she performed as a mouse with the Louisville Ballet in its annual production of The Nutcracker.  Joining the Louisville Ballet Academy that year, she began intense professional training. In 1981 she received a scholarship to the summer course at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, and a year later she moved to New York to become a full-time student there. She was invited to become a member of the New York City Ballet corps de ballet in 1986 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1991.  During her years with the company, Whelan performed a wide spectrum of the Balanchine repertory and worked closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets.  She originated featured roles in thirteen ballets by Christopher Wheeldon as well as in ballets of William Forsythe, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei, Jerome Robbins, and Twyla Tharp.  In 2007 Whelan was nominated for an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for her performances with Morphoses/Wheeldon Company. She has been a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and the Kirov Ballet. She received the 2007 Dance Magazine Award, and in 2009 was awarded a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University.  In 2011 she received the Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement in Performance.

In 2012 Whelan began developing new collaborative projects.  Her inaugural project, Restless Creature, which premiered at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in August 2013, was a suite of four duets, created for her and danced by four of today’s most cutting edge contemporary dancer/choreographers, Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. Restless Creature toured nationally and internationally in 2014-15 to sold-out houses. In July 2015 she premiered her second project, Whelan/WatsonOther Stories, at London's Royal Opera House, performing alongside Royal Ballet principal dancer Edward Watson.  A third project, Hagoromo, premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in November 2015.  Whelan was recently appointed Artistic Associate at New York's City Center, and for two years beginning November 1, 2014, City Center will be her home for developing future projects.  She resides in New York City with her husband, the artist David Michalek.