News: Christopher Wheeldon to form own company

Friday 5 January 2007

Christopher Wheeldon, the young British choreographer who has been at the forefront of the ballet world in recent years has announced that he will be forming his own company – Morphoses – named after a dance he created in 2002 for New York City Ballet.

He had already announced that he would be leaving New York City Ballet when his contract as resident choreographer expires in 2008. The company has been his main home since he joined as a dancer aged 19, fourteen years ago and became their resident choreographer five years ago.

His company of twenty dancers will be truly transatlantic, with rehearsal and performance bases in New York and London. The permanent company will come in 2008, but a company of guest artists will make its debut in August at the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado and arrive in London for several performances at Sadler’s Wells in September, returning to City Center, New York for performances in October. They will perform a mixed repertory of Wheeldon’s work, alongside other twentieth century repertoire and work from contemporary choreographers.

Sadler’s Wells will then become the London base for Wheeldon’s company, where they will perform for a season every year. The theatre will also be commissioning new work for the company and providing space for it’s creation, rehearsal and technical preparation – as part of its new policy of providing support to choreographers to make new dance work at the theatre and provide the optimum circumstances for that work to be made.

Artistic Director Alistair Spalding said: “I’m delighted to be able to support Christopher Wheeldon’s new project this September and the development of the new company in the future. At Sadler’s Wells we believe in offering artists the chance to create new work in the best possible circumstances and that’s what I want to offer Chris. He is a very gifted choreographer and I think this a very brave but wise move that will enable him to achieve his artistic goals.”

Sadler’s Wells now has a host of resident companies and artists – including Sylvie Guillem, Akram Khan, the Ballet Boyz (George Piper Dances), Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Rambert and Random Dance Companies.

Likely dancers being mentioned for the inaugural season include Darcey Bussell, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg from the Royal Ballet and from the New York City Ballet, Wendy Whelan, Edwaard Liang, Maria Kowroski, Sébastien Marcovici and Sofiane Sylve.


Wheeldon has said that he will be giving dancers a larger creative role than is usual in many large ballet companies. “Dancers are amazing, generous people. All they basically want is to put on a good show. But they perform much better when they are inspired..” Read more in the Guardian, 5 January 2007

He has been inspired to take the creative leap of creating a new company by choreographer and former Artistic Director of Ballett Frankfurt William Forsythee basically told me that I needed to take a step forward on my own and do something different, and coming from him — he is a man who has continued to invent himself — it was immediately resonant”. Read more in the New York Times, 4 Jan 07?

Wheeldon has been inspired by Diaghilev’s legendary Ballets Russes and hopes to create a “gorgeous great big mixing bowl” of creative talent, he tells Judith Mackrell in the Guardian, 8 Jan 07

Wheeldon’s work has been seen regularly in London.

Recently he made DGV for the Royal Ballet ( which has part of sell out programme, alongside new work by Wayne McGregor)

He received an Oliver Award for the Best New Dance Production (2002) for Polyphonia performed by Danses Concertantes, principals and soloists of New York City Ballet at Sadler’s Wells. Tryst, made for the Royal Ballet in 2002 – was also nominated.

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