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"It was always going to be a crazy idea."
Starting His Own Ballet Company, Christopher Wheeldon Takes a Leap of Faith

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Is choreographer Christopher Wheeldon the ballet world's dream come true? In a field sorely lacking for hot young talent as well as simply great talent, he offers the complete package. Having jumped from the Royal Ballet to New York City Ballet, the English-born dancer moved on to become City Ballet's first choreographer-in-residence, and a year ago he made his biggest move yet, starting his own troupe, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company.

-- Sarah Kaufman

The economy has tanked, gas prices have spiked, there's less money around for luxuries like theater tickets and philanthropy. In this climate, forming a new ballet company sounds crazy.

It was always going to be a crazy idea, good economy or bad economy. We certainly didn't know it was going to be a slippery slope. But it almost makes it more exciting and dangerous that it's more difficult now.

Yet in this era of constant interruption, has the public's attention span become too fragmented for ballet?

It's true, there's a lack of fixed attention, and it's far easier to stay at home and talk to friends on Facebook and watch a movie on Netflix and order in a pizza. But there are people who want to be with other people. I'm not ready to lose hope yet.

What are you doing to hook the YouTube generation?

Our Web site, Morphoses.org, will have rehearsal footage and lots of video. . . . Eventually we want to play around with a camera you attach to a hat, to get live broadcast from the studio.

What do you think of the dancing on TV, such as "So You Think You Can Dance"?

It's bringing dance to a wide audience, and some of the choreography is actually quite good.

Is there a reality show in your future? Maybe "So You Think You Can Choreograph" ?

We've met with Bravo about some kind of reality show. I don't think I was controversial enough. I said I'm not going to create controversy, and I saw them glazing over. They wanted diva ballerina fits and glass in the pointe shoes, that kind of thing. We're trying to move away from those cliches.

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