Wendy Whelan was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where at the age of three she began taking dance classes with Virginia Wooton, a local teacher. At age eight she performed as a mouse with the Louisville Ballet in its annual production of The Nutcracker. Joining the Louisville Ballet Academy that year, she began intense professional ballet training. In 1981 she received a scholarship to the summer course at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, and a year later, became a full-time student there. In 1984, Ms. Whelan danced as an apprentice with New York City Ballet. Ms. Whelan became a member of New York City Ballet's corps de ballet in January 1986. She was promoted to the rank of soloist during the 1989 spring season and to the rank of principal dancer in the 1991 spring season. Ms. Whelan has worked with numerous choreographers including Christopher d'Amboise, Ulysses Dove, Boris Eifman, Albert Evans, Edwaard Liang, and Kevin O'Day.
Ms. Whelan has performed as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden and the Maryinsky Ballet at the Maryinsky Theater. She has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
In 2002, Ms. Whelan appeared in the nationally televised Live from Lincoln Center broadcast "New York City Ballet's Diamond Project: Ten Years of New Choreography" on PBS, dancing in Red Angels, and in May of 2004 she appeared in the Live from Lincoln Center broadcast of "Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100," dancing in Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet.
Ms. Whelan appeared as "Coffee" in the film version of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™, produced by Elektra Entertainment/New Regency Enterprises, and released in the winter of 1993.
Whelan was the recipient of a Dance Magazine Award in 2007.
Portrait © David Michalek