Wheeldon retired from dancing at the end of the Spring 2000 season to concentrate on his choreographic work. Chosen to be New York City Ballet’s first Artist in Residence, he created Polyphonia, set to piano music by Györgi Ligeti, which was given its world premiere in May 2001. That same month, Wheeldon was named Resident Choreographer for New York City Ballet. Morphoses, also set to Ligeti music, premiered in June 2002 as part of the tenth Diamond Project festival, and Carousel (A Dance), set to music by Richard Rodgers, premiered in November 2002. In Spring 2003, Wheeldon created two ballets: Carnival of the Animals, set to the score by Camille Saint-Saens with verse by John Lithgow, and Liturgy, a pas de deux, set to music by Arvo Part. In Spring 2004 he choreographed a new Swan Lake for the Pennsylvania Ballet.
As a choreographer, Wheeldon has also created works for Boston Ballet, The Colorado Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet, The Hamburg Ballet, The Australian Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet. Some of Wheeldon’s other choreographic credits include: Slavonic Dances (1997), Scènes de Ballet (1999) and Mercurial Maneouvres (2000) for New York City Ballet; Firebird (1999) for Boston Ballet; Sea Pictures (2000) and Continuum (2002) for San Francisco Ballet; VIII (2001) for The Hamburg Ballet; Tryst (2002) for The Royal Ballet, as well as the ballet sequence for the Columbia Pictures feature film Center Stage. Wheeldon made his Broadway choreographic debut in March 2002 with the stage version of the film Sweet Smell of Success.
In 1996, he received the Mae L. Wien Award from the School of American
Ballet for choreography and, in 1997, the Martin E. Segal Award from
Lincoln Center for promising newcomer in choreography, the London Critics’
Circle Award for best new ballet for Polyphonia and the American
Choreography Award for best choreography for the movie Center Stage.
A production of Polyphonia, performed by New York City Ballet
dancers in the Fall of 2002, received the Olivier Award for best new