Here’s a Sarah Crompton interview with Christopher Wheedon in the London Telegraph. Morphoses is about to open their fall season there, debuting a new ballet by Wheeldon and one by Australian choreographer Tim Harbour. At the end of the month, New York audiences will get to see those premieres.
In the article, Wheeldon talks about trying to increase ballet’s appeal to new audiences. He surmises it may be certain ballet aesthetics, such as the toe shoes, that are a turn-off, that may make ballet inaccessible. I strongly disagree though. I think people are generally awed by the toe shoes and by the beauty and immense athleticism of the art form. They’re all the more awe-inspiring when you see them up close, a thought I had recently in the Guggenheim’s tiny theater watching ABT, their studio company, and the students at ABT’s Kennedy-Onassis School of Ballet perform in a Works & Process event there.
I really think people in general are drawn to stories. That’s what I hear anyway from other dance-goers, or would-be dance-goers (who patronize theater and opera but shy away from dance). I think abstract ballets can definitely be intriguing but I think if your repertoire consists of only the kind of story-less ballets Balanchine made it’s going to suffer. I’ll be very excited to see the Alice in Wonderland that Wheeldon’s doing for the Royal.