On Oct. 18, Wendy Whelan gave her final performance with the New York City Ballet. It was a strangely happy occasion. She performed in five works: Balanchine’s La Sonnambula (as the Sleepwalker), an ensemble from Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, the haunting pas de deux from Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH and Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, and a short farewell piece by Wheeldon and Ratmansky, By 2 With & From. After every one, she was greeted by thunderous applause, to which she responded in her usual simple, friendly, direct manner, often mouthing the words “thank you” to both her partners and fellow dancers and to the audience. Only at the very end of the night, after repeated curtain calls, did she seem to give in to sadness. Her face—those bright eyes and wide, smiling mouth—seemed to quiver for a moment. Maybe it was just exhaustion. For the rest of the evening, though, she seemed to be savoring every dance, every contact with her colleagues, every silent conversation with the choreographers whose work she has illuminated with her intelligence and rigor. A new period of collaboration is beginning for Whelan; her evening of duets, Restless Creature, comes to the Joyce in May. One chapter ends, another begins. Here are a few photographs from this memorable night. Except where noted, they are by Paul Kolnik.
Watch the final moments of By 2 With & From here.
And you can read is my tribute to Whelan in the New Yorker Culture Blog here.