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Prima ballerina Wendy Whelan comes to Memorial Hall barefooted

Prima ballerina Wendy Whelan will be performing her new show “Restless Creature” at Carolina Performing Arts at 7:30 tonight (Courtesy of Carolina Performing Arts).

Prima ballerina Wendy Whelan will be performing her new show “Restless Creature” at Carolina Performing Arts at 7:30 tonight (Courtesy of Carolina Performing Arts).

At least that’s how Whelan, a prima ballerina, describes “Restless Creature,” the show she will perform at Memorial Hall tonight.

Although she is hailed as America’s greatest contemporary ballerina by The New York Times, Whelan will not be wearing her ballet slippers during “Restless Creature.”

Instead, she will be mostly barefoot as she presents her first departure from ballet to venture into the world of contemporary and modern dance.

“It’s a study of ‘What the hell is gonna happen?’” Whelan said.

The performance piece is also the first that Whelan created herself from the bottom up, and performing it in Chapel Hill is something that means a great deal to the prima ballerina.

“This performance was born here,” Whelan said.

As co-commissioner of the project, Emil Kang, Carolina Performing Arts’ executive director for the arts, allowed Whelan and her team to work out the stage and theatrical elements of the show.

“He believed in it before we even made our first step.”

Whelan’s residency in Chapel Hill during the development phase is something Whelan said she believed was a defining aspect of the project.

“This performance grew out of her experience here,” said Jenny Kreizman, CPA’s marketing and communication coordinator.

The creation of “Restless Creature” has also forced Whelan to overcome a number of obstacles. Aside from being catapulted out of her familiar world of ballet, the 47-year-old will be dancing after a recent hip surgery.

Journeying out of her comfort zone and conquering injury and her age have set the critically acclaimed dancer apart.

“Whelan is a wonderful example for future artists on the importance of always learning more and expanding oneself,” said Rachel Cianfichi, a senior Romance Languages and Communication Studies major at UNC.

An avid dancer on campus, Cianfichi serves as the Carolina Style Dance Company’s ballet company director and dances with Star Heels Dance Team.

“After the show, students will leave with mixed emotions about what they saw — inspiring them to learn more not only about Wendy Whelan, but also about the art of dance,” Cianfichi said.

Whelan said she is excited to share her art with UNC students, whether they are familiar with dance or not.

“Guys dig the show because there is no intermission,” Whelan said, using an example from a past performance of “Restless Creature” in Arkansas.

After her performance, a man gave her a note that candidly detailed how much he enjoyed her show. It read: “I’m a man’s man. I make things out of wood. I race cars. I brew my own beer. But, fuck that — I think I really love dance.”

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