Wendy Whelan was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where at the age of three she began taking dance classes with Virginia Wooton, a local teacher. At age eight she performed as a mouse with the Louisville Ballet in its annual production of The Nutcracker. Joining the Louisville Ballet Academy that year, she began intense professional ballet training. In 1981 she received a scholarship to the summer course at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, and a year later, became a full-time student there.
In 1984, Ms. Whelan danced as an apprentice with New York City Ballet. Ms. Whelan became a member of New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet in January 1986. She was promoted to the rank of soloist during the 1989 spring season and to the rank of principal dancer in the 1991 spring season. Ms. Whelan has performed numerous works by George Balanchine including Apollo, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Titania and Divertissement), and Swan Lake, among others. Ms. Whelan has worked with numerous choreographers including Christopher d’Amboise, Ulysses Dove, Boris Eifman, Albert Evans, Edwaard Liang, and Kevin O’Day.