Stephen Petronio Company
June 4 – 24, 2017
Stephen Petronio, photo by Sarah Silver
Stephen Petronio was born in Newark, NJ, and received a BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, where he began his early training in improvisation and dance technique. He was greatly influenced by working with Steve Paxton and was the first male dancer of the Trisha Brown Dance Company (1979 to 1986). He has gone on to build a unique career, receiving numerous accolades, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, an American Choreographer Award, a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, and most recently a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. On the occasion of Stephen Petronio receiving the Doris Duke Award in 2015, he was asked:
What fuels your impulse to make creative work?
I believe in the power of movement. My language is a continuum of motion predicated on the conscious direction of energy throughout the body and into space. The spine undulates, twisting and torqueing; hips sling, thrust forward off the legs and into the eye of the audience; head and limbs whip through space extending out into arcs of enlivened calligraphy; literal and personal gestures bubble to the surface, then disappear back into the dense mix. My artistic concerns shift constantly, but the following run through my investigations with some sense of regularity: a commitment to multidisciplinary collaborators; multiple states of consciousness in the body; physical play; accidental discovery that defies logic and the tools that facilitate these "accidents;" rapidly shifting architectural structures; the relationship between order and chaos; issues of power and control; communal structures for behaving; hybrid constructions of gender and sexuality; and a relationship to pop culture.
Read more on Petronio’s 30-year career.
Photo by Erin Baiano in choreography by Brian Brooks
Wendy Whelan, widely considered one of the world’s leading dancers, began dance lessons at the age of three with Virginia Wooton in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. At the age of eight, she performed as a mouse in the Louisville Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. From that first performance, she was smitten. “Once I got to perform — to see the dancers and to have an orchestra playing right there in the pit, and see stage makeup, see the costume designs up close — once I knew ballet was a collaborative effort for all of these incredible artists, that’s when I knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.”
Wendy began intense professional training at the Louisville Ballet Academy. In 1981, her teachers, Cecile Gibson and Robert Dicello, encouraged Wendy to audition for Suzanne Farrell, who was scouting students for the School of American Ballet, the training ground for New York City Ballet and top ballet companies around the world, co-founded in 1933 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Wendy was accepted to the summer program at age 14; a year later, after her second summer program, she moved to New York to continue her studies as a full-time student. In 1984, she was named an apprentice with New York City Ballet and joined the corps de ballet a year later.
Wendy went on to spend 30 years at New York City Ballet, dancing virtually all the major Balanchine roles, and working closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets and originating roles in ballets by such notable choreographers as William Forsythe, Twyla Tharp, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei, and Wayne MacGregor. She was promoted to soloist in 1989 and to principal dancer in 1991.
Her most notable choreographic collaboration at NYCB was with Christopher Wheeldon, who created roles for Wendy in 13 of his ballets, including Polyphonia, Liturgy, and After the Rain. At his own company, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, Chris again chose Wendy for several new works, and in 2007, she was nominated in London for both an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for her performances.
Wendy has been a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and the Kirov Ballet and has performed all over the U.S., South America, Europe, and Asia. She received the Dance Magazine Award in 2007, and in 2009 was given a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University. In 2011, she received both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance.