Movie Review: Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan (2016) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “R” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Previous ”R” documentaries I’ve reviewed include Rape of Europa.

TitleRestless Creature: Wendy Whelan
Release Date: October 9, 2016
Director: Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger
Production Company: Abramorama
Summary/Review:

I don’t know much about ballet but it’s something I’m interested in learning more about. The subject of this documentary, Wendy Whelan, is considered one of the top dancers of generation during her 30 years with the New York City Ballet.  This film captures the end of those 30 years.

Whelan had remarkable durability, avoiding the injuries that plague many dancers until her mid-40s.  At the start of this film, she’s getting surgery on her hip injury and then beginning her recovery.  Her anxiety about being away from the stage is palpable, especially as rumors spread that she’s already retired.  Her physical therapist actually has to pull her out of a ballet class to keep her from aggravating her injury.  Whelan’s commitment to physical therapy and dance rehearsal show that she is definitely a “restless creature.”

But she is also a genuinely kind person, and her colleagues and friends think highly of her.  Part way through this film, Whelan comes to a decision.  First, she is going to perform in her final season with the New York City Ballet.  Second, she is going to transition into contemporary dance, with a tour called “Restless Creature” featuring four different dance performances choreographed by four differen male choreographers.  For her final performance at the New York City Ballet, she does a one-time performance of a number choreographed just for her.  The scenes of the performance are hair raising in their beauty.  Wendy Whelan gets to go out on her own terms and its perfect.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

I’m in my mid-40s and I found this movie strangely relatable.  I mean, even when I was young I physically couldn’t do the things Whelan does, and in my own chosen field I should be able to continue into old age.  Still, there comes a realization in one’s 40s that you can’t physically do the thing you used to do, and it comes time to make decisions about how you want to go forward in your life.

I also found it interesting the distinction that Whelan makes between ballet and contemporary dance.  I mean to my novice eyes they look very similar, and a dancer like Whelan makes it look effortless despite energy exerted.  I’m glad that Whelan finds that contemporary dance is way for her to continue in a way that is more friendly to her injury.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

The documentary Ballerina shows a different side of the ballet world, focusing on the young dancers in Russia’s highly competitive Kirov Ballet.

Source: Netflix

Rating: ****


2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films, Part II

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School
I: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
J: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
K: Kon-Tiki
L: The Last Waltz
M: Man With a Movie Camera
N: Nanook of the North
O: Obit.
P: Pelotero
Q: Quest: A Portrait of an American Family

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

A Song and a Story: “Rave On” #AtoZChallenge


Today for R Day, we have a shaggy dog story produced from memories of hearing Buddy Holly and the Crickets performing

Rave On

Have you ever been to a rave?  Me neither.  But during the peak period of “raving” being a term to refer to a dance party, I did like to go out dancing with my friends.  My senior year at college I lived in a residence hall of an odd mixture of men, some were devout Christians, some were alternative types (we didn’t use the term hipster yet) who drank, smoke, & enjoyed premarital relations, and some of us straddled on the line between both.

It was with some of the latter that I spent the night raving.  The occasion was our RA Rahsaan’s 21st birthday, and our group of four was filled out with Chris and John.  We traveled an hour away to take advantage of Norfolk, Virginia’s finest gay nightclubs, The White House and The Late Show.  Rather comically, after my friends made it past the velvet rope, I was stopped to be informed that I was indeed entering a gay club.  Apparently, I set off the Straight Detector.  Nevertheless, I was made welcome, and enjoyed the fact that people actually danced here as opposed to “straight clubs” where people stood around and acted creepy.

We danced all night and returned to Williamsburg as the first streaks of dawn appeared in the sky.  We ate breakfast, and then returned to campus, where my friends could go to bed.  But not me.  I got dressed for work.  And while groggy, I sold tickets to Colonial Williamsburg visitors with a feeling of giddiness, knowing that I’d been dancing just hours before.  I finally made it to bed in the afternoon, but not before creating a voicemail message (it was the 90s, and voicemail was new and fun) that I sent to Rahsaan, Chris, and John with a sound effect recording of a crashing airplane.  I then crashed myself.

Later that spring, the woman I was dating at the time included “Rave On” on a mixtape in honor of the night of “raving” for Rahsaan’s birthday.


2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
I: If I Were John Carpenter
J: Jungle Strut and Justified & Ancient
K: Kiss
L: Loaded
M: Marble Halls and My Moon, My Man
N: New York, New York
O: Oliver’s Army
P: The Parting Glass
Q: Qué Onda Guero

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.