I went to a party last night. It was filled with warmth, dancing, glitz and humor. It was principal dancer’s Wendy Whelan’s Farewell to the New York City Ballet. The David H. Koch Theater was packed. It was a wonderful tribute from behind the footlights. Two of the choreographers who have worked with Wendy Whelan closely, Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky, created a ballet for her and her two principal partners, Tyler Angle and Craig Hall. It’s called BY 2 WITH & FROM. Last night she and Hall also danced Wheeldon’s AFTER THE RAIN and she and Angle danced an excerpt from Ratmansky’s CONCERTO DSCH. During the evening there were short clips from a documentary about Whelan. She was shown fostering to NYCB younger dancers and celebrating, in bittersweet fashion, her October 18 retirement after thirty years. The affection for Whelan flowed across the stage to the audience and visa versa. At the end of the evening, most of the NYCB appeared on the stage. At first, they arrived one by one, each offering W. W. a bouquet. It was a lovely, gentle sight gag. Within minutes she was weighed down with flowers. Still, they kept coming and we, the audience, kept laughing like kids watching a beloved relative being teased.
Since I couldn’t offer Wendy Whelan real flowers I’ll offer her virtual flowers.