Support America’s National Ballet Company® DONATE NOW

Repertory Archive

Christopher Wheeldon


Christopher Wheeldon was born in Yeovil, Somerset, England. He began his ballet training when he was eight years old at the East Coker Ballet School. At the age of eleven, Wheeldon enrolled at The Royal Ballet School where he trained until he was 18. He joined England’s Royal Ballet in 1991, where he danced in works by Ashton, MacMillan and Balanchine. That same year, he won the Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne competition. In 1993, Wheeldon was invited to become a member of New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet. Wheeldon was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1998. As a dancer with New York City Ballet, Wheeldon appeared in many works in the repertory, dancing featured roles in George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, The Four Temperaments, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Nutcracker and Jerome Robbins’ The Concert, Dances at a Gathering and The Goldberg Variations. 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 dance production.