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Louisville Native Wendy Whelan Moves Beyond Ballet

Restless Creature - W&P - Christopher Duggan, Photographer - hr_20130415_057

Louisville native Wendy Whelan has nearly every professional accolade possible for a ballet dancer.

But now that she's retired from the acclaimed New York City Ballet after 30 years, Whelan is seeking to expand beyond ballet.

This weekend, Whelan brings her first post-ballet production to her hometown with "Restless Creature," an evening of four duets that features Whelan paired with four different dancers, each of whom served as the choreographer for their duet with her.

She's trading her pointe shoes for bare feet, and looking to find different ways of moving after so many years in the strict discipline of ballet.

"The movement is not necessarily ballet-based, but because I'm doing it and I've been such a longtime established ballet dancer, I'll have a little bit of a ballet feel, but I'm really trying to explore new sides of myself as a performing artist, and therefore trying to get away from ballet, to tap new sources of movement within myself," Whelan said.

Listen to the Full Interview

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Her partners in "Restless Creature" are dancer/choreographers Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo. The piece had its world premiere at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in August 2013, and the dancers have been touring with this show for the last three months.

Whelan left the New York City Ballet last year. Whelan said she was nervous about her departure, but it was the right decision at the right time.

"I had a fantastic time at the New York City Ballet," Whelan said. "And I couldn't have asked for more. And I left at exactly the right moment, and I've gone on to explore in exactly the way I want to."

Bringing the show to Louisville is "like Christmas," Whelan said.

"I'm so excited, and I have so many friends and family that are going to be there. They've never seen me do anything but ballet, so I'm excited to show them what I'm up to now," she said.

"Restless Creature" will be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday night at the Brown Theatre. Here's more information.