Christopher Wheeldon

The choreographer is back at New York City Ballet for a triple bill.

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And you'll continue making it there?
Yeah. I'm very lucky in looking at it now. I get the best of both worlds: I get to stay home and work with this wonderful company, which I know will continue because Peter [Martins] and I have a wonderful relationship, and I know he wants me back. And now I have this association with the Royal. Kevin and I are going to work very closely, and he's excited about my ideas for the company as well—he's more my generation. I can still see myself having a place in the future of the company without having to sit behind the desk.

Do you have a specific role?
Kind of. It's not really been announced yet.

That's great. And what about NYCB?
Nothing here as of now.

Is that by choice?
A little bit. There have been some offers, not just from City Ballet, but from around and the companies that I work with in the States. Everyone's ego [is] to have resident people, you know? But at this point, I've stepped away from that a little bit just for now. Rather than attaching myself permanently to a company in Europe and dividing my time—even though I will probably be creating in New York, if not for ABT than for City Ballet, as much as I will be in London. I think it's enough to have one position somewhere for now.

You got that resident ball rolling, didn't you?
Yeah, I kind of did. And never say never because I do love this company, but I've done that here, and as long as Peter still invites me back to make ballets, I think he's happy with that. He's been very generous and, obviously, it was difficult when I left to go and start Morphoses, but we've never had a contentious relationship. It's always been good. He's always been very supportive.

I've never spoken to you about Morphoses: How did you get over that experience of deciding to leave the company as artistic director?
There was that tumultuous period, which was relatively short when I had to make the decision and accept the consequences of having made that decision. All the muddy water that's passed under the bridge since then, none of it has colored the experience that I had with the company, and I still very strongly believe in my reasons for starting it. We did some really terrific things in those three years: We toured to some great places; I worked with a lot of beautiful dancers; the Royal Ballet is going to do Fool's Paradise next season. So some of those ballets live on. In the end, I made the decision to leave—maybe it was impatient of me—because I felt we were in the same place three years down the road as we were when we started, and I don't think that was anyone's fault. Terrible economic time. Huge ambitions. And I needed to stand up and be really realistic. It was a tough decision to make, but I don't regret having made the decision at all. I really don't. Great things have happened for me since. I got to work in the opera. I made Alice. I'm going to be working in the theater again. My personal life got better. I was back doing what I was really supposed to be doing. I realized that a lot of people felt that they were a little bit left in the dust by my decision, but quite frankly everybody dusts themselves off and gets on...and [the company has] subsequently toured and had a season. I don't know what the future is for the company, but I've only ever wanted to wish Lourdes [Lopez] and the company well in moving forward. It's a very different Morphoses from our Morphoses.

I would think that having it be the same name would be weird.
The name is a little odd because it's the name of one of my ballets. But it's still the name of one of my ballets. I'm able to separate enough. It seems like they've gone down a far more contemporary route now anyway; we set up as a contemporary ballet company, and it's now not a ballet company. That's very clear.

Which dance of yours most resembles you?
I've never been asked that question!

How cool.
Yeah, that's super cool. Probably the one I'm making now. Whatever it is that I'm making is the closest representation of me, today anyway.

What does the word tradition mean to you?
I would say it's the root of everything. I still very much believe in classical ballet as a language, so it's a departure point. It's something that I hope I'm not a slave to, though.

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