The last decade of Christopher Wheeldon’s career has gone by in a blur. The global nature of the ballet world means that he is constantly on the move, finishing one project even as another is taking shape somewhere else, demanding his attention. When the pandemic hit, he had two enormous projects on the way, a new evening-length ballet for the Royal Ballet in London, and a musical headed to Broadway. Both are now on hold until theaters open again. But he hasn’t been idle. In 2020, he took on several projects, most of them far less formal or elaborate than the sorts of productions he is normally involved in. There was a “Boléro,” made and rehearsed via Zoom with the dancers and musicians of the Royal Ballet, in June. (“It was a bit of a logistical nightmare,” he says of assembling all the film.) Then in August, he contributed to a dance film made by Benjamin Millepied for the San Francisco Ballet. His first time back in the studio happened around that time: a new duet for Sara Mearns and David Hallberg, close friends who had never had the chance to dance together. Hallberg was about to leave to take the reins at the Australian Ballet, where he is now. Mearns had some time on her hands. The moment, a respite from their usual hectic life, proved somehow magical. The result, “The Two of Us,” is a little jewel, a treasured memento from a difficult year.
Sara Mearns and David Hallberg in “The Two of Us” by Christopher Wheeldon. Photograph by Christopher Duggan