Jonathan Stafford and Wendy Whelan, New York City Ballet

Published on16 SEP 2019

New York City Ballet leaders Jonathan Stafford and Wendy Whelan discuss the experience of taking over the largest ballet company in the US during a tumultuous time in its history and their vision for the future of ballet.

Stafford on modernizing dance: “One of the things we look for is what are the dancers ready to respond to in this current time? Not what they were ready to respond to five years ago. What does this current group of dancers need in a choreographer who’s going to come forward and challenge them? Who’s going to put them in a position where they’re going to find something within themselves that they never find in the Balanchine or the Robbins [repertory], push them in different direction.”

Whelan on what she looks for in choreography: “I look for someone who has a very clear idea of what they want to say, how they hear the music, how they experience movement. I look for someone that really understands their quality of movement. They’re not just putting an idea on somebody, but they’re really the source of understanding how the movement is. And I like people that really have their own vocabulary of movement, very clear cut so that they can bring that out of the dancers.”

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