Why Wendy Whelan Gives Back

November 28, 2001

For Pointe‘s December/January issue, photographer Matthew Murphy went behind the scenes of Daniel Ulbricht’s “Dance Against Cancer” benefit. The event, featuring performances by dancers from all over, raised $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. Murphy captured splendid shots of the dancers rehearsing, organizing, performing, texting, giggling, getting dressed, and more.


One of our favorites that didn’t make it in print was this one of New York City Ballet prima ballerina Wendy Whelan helping Carolina Ballet dancer Lara O’Brien into her costume. We later asked Whelan why she takes the time out of her schedule to volunteer her time—and gorgeous artistry—to worthy causes. Here’s what she had to say:


“I try to ‘give back’ whenever possible. Especially when it comes to HIV/AIDS and cancer. These two diseases, in particular, have challenged the lives of far too many of my loved ones. AIDS took the young life of my beloved teacher who tirelessly trained, inspired and sent me off with confidence toward my now 26 years as a professional dancer.


He literally gave me everything…

To give back, brings him back to me momentarily. These kinds of performances stir my heart and my imagination tremendously. It’s a way for me to thank him in the best way I know how: through what he taught me.”


Stay tuned for more great photos from the event.