EAST LYME — Count Mikhail Baryshnikov among the admirers of acclaimed dancer Wendy Whelan, who’s making a rare appearance on the Shoreline to train the latest generation of aspiring prima ballerinas.
“She’s the best,” the ballet superstar told the New York Times, when asked to describe the longtime New York City Ballet principal dancer.
Whelan, recently appointed as the NYCB associate artistic director, is among a host of bold-faced names slated to lead master classes at Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s summer intensive, “In Balanchine’s Footsteps,” at the East Lyme studio in two sessions, beginning on July 29.
Joining Whelan will be NYCB principal dancer Adrian Danchig-Waring, praised in 2018 for a “newfound brilliance” by Times’ dance critic Gia Kourlas.
He’s “hit fresh heights in leading roles,” as the Wall Street Journal put it, “not only in solo moments that revealed athletic prowess and nobility, but while supporting his three attendant muses with spontaneity and keen musical timing.”
Celebrated Broadway dancer Mary Ann Lamb, whose credits include “Fosse,” “Chicago” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” brings teaching chops that saw her working with Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell on the current FX series “Fosse/Verdon.”
Then there’s Gloria Govrin, ECB’s artistic director, and formerly a ballet luminary under the legendary choreographer and NYCB founder George Balanchine, with her “instinctive understanding of how to draw the best out of her students,” as ECB executive director Lise Reardon put it.
The sessions offer a contrast to the hotly competitive NYC School of American Ballet summer intensive, where spots are highly coveted, according to Reardon, a former dancer.
“It’s New York City-level training in a sleepy coastal town,” she said. “It’s also a singular opportunity for students of dance to immerse themselves in a range of areas from ballet technique, pointe, and variations, to discussions on topics like point shoes, to jazz and musical theater.”
Not to mention, crucially, in the Balanchine method.
“There’s no better way for a young dancer to learn than from master teachers who were either students of Balanchine, or members of companies that embrace his style and choreography,” she said.
Whelan, who’s making her debut as a faculty member at EBC, had another take.
“Intensive summer dance programs are part of the necessary building blocks to finding a career in dance,” she said. “Training with new teachers who are introducing new ideas and new dance forms is a way to take your artistry to a new level.”
For more information on the “In Balanchine’s Footsteps” summer intensive, contact ECB at 860-739-7899 or visit easternctballet.org.
Eastern Connecticut Ballet is on 435 Boston Post Road in East Lyme.