World-renowned ballerina Wendy Whelan is joining Barnard College as the inaugural Lida Orzeck ‘68 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence. In this position, which she will hold through May 2016, Whelan will lead a variety of artistic and academic activities, including six master classes, a coaching repertory course and experimental choreography sessions. She will also present two public events, the first of which will take place on Nov. 10 when the creative team of Hagoromo reflects on the Japanese Noh classic in the wake of its premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

“It's a thrill and an honor to welcome Ms. Whelan to Barnard,” said Barnard College President Debora Spar. “Her remarkable career with the New York City Ballet serves as an inspiration to so many of our students, and we're fortunate to have this rare opportunity to learn from her over the course of the year.”

As a New York City Ballet dancer for more than 30 years, Whelan is widely considered one of the world’s leading ballerinas. Since retiring from the City Ballet in 2014, she has gone on to serve as a New York City Center Artistic Associate and to develop a number of new collaborative projects; her inaugural project, “Restless Creature,” toured internationally in 2014 and 2015 to sold out houses.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be chosen as the first Orzeck Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, and I’m very much looking forward to what the year will bring,” said Whelan. “Barnard’s strong dance curriculum very much aligns with my own experience, and I look forward to getting to know students and the Barnard community at large.”

In March 2015, Lida Orzeck, Ph.D., endowed The Lida A. Orzeck ’68 Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Fund with a substantial gift. Orzeck is the cofounder of Hanky Panky, which reports estimated annual sales of $50 million and employs approximately 165 people.  She currently serves on the Barnard board of trustees and has given generously to the College for years, including a scholarship fund in her name, support to the annual Athena Film Festival and many other initiatives.

"Barnard feels like my family, even more so since coming back for my 35th reunion," said Orzeck. "Historically, Barnard hasn’t received the philanthropic attention it deserves, and I realized it was up to alumnae like me to change that and make a difference. I am very excited to be able to help bring artists of the highest caliber to campus, where they will inspire and motivate Barnard students and the wider community. It will be such a thrill every year when an appointment such as this one is made.”

Barnard Dance Department co-chair Katie Glasner is excited by the prospect of having such a legendary dance figure on campus.

“Ms. Whelan’s presence within the Dance Department enriches the association between the College and active artistic practice in New York City, expands the Department's ballet offerings and gives a first-hand view of an artist's continued development,” said Glasner. “A remarkable performer, Wendy's many generosities will be amazing assets to the students this year.”