Thinking on (and with) his Feet to Create Magic

Choreographing a ballet may be all about grand vision, but for Christopher Wheeldon, it's also very much a step-by-step process. Rather than sticking to a preordained plan into which his performers must obediently slot, the ginger-blond Briton, 28, who last month was appointed the New York City Ballet's first resident choreographer, first tries to get to know the dancers with whom he is working. He then constructs a piece designed to let both his choreography and their abilities shine through. "It's a collaborative process," says Wheeldon, noting that when he created his recent minimalist work Polyphonia, he had to adapt some...

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