After three decades with the New York City Ballet, “America’s greatest contemporary ballerina” Wendy Whelan is preparing to leave the company. Her body has been punished over the years, and while she’s escaped any injury or pain, it has finally caught up to her. An operation for an injury, and even hints from her boss that it may be time to call it quits, force Whelan to look at life after ballet. Determined to end things the way she wants, Whelan begins preparing a ballet titled Restless Creature, where she asks four choreographers to create a duet for her to perform. Cameras follow her as she overcomes her injury, talks about her long career, and gets ready for her final performances.
Directors Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger offer a fascinating look into the life and career of Whelan, whose experience in the world of ballet is certainly one of the longest and most successful you may find with Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan. The problem here is that it’s a look that only the most die-hard of ballet fans will probably enjoy. It’s not that Whelan isn’t an outstanding dancer, it’s just that looking at the end of a career in dance isn’t quite as enthralling as watching someone struggle with the beginning.
Here, Whelan is long past wondering how she’ll be able to push forward and train her mind and body for the task of ballet. Instead, her struggle is coming to terms with the ending of a career. Thirty years dancing isn’t the same as having a career cut short, so even this problem doesn’t deliver much tension or discussion.
Things pick up as Whelan prepares for Restless Creature. Now she’s had to overcome an injury and operation, as well as getting ready for a performance that she knows will put an end to an illustrious career. Emotions begin to run high, and watching her work towards being in as peak physical condition as can be expected becomes reminiscent of a career set to explode.
The end result of Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan is still one that only the biggest ballet lovers will truly enjoy, and that’s great news if it happens to be something you enjoy.
Is Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan Essential Viewing?
If you’re a fan of dance, you’ve probably heard of Whelan, which will definitely enhance the experience. This one is more for those bigger ballet fans.
Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan opens Friday, July 21, 2017 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Check their website for more information.