What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Question: How did you arrive in New York?

Wheeldon: I was dancing with the Royal Ballet, I had just secured my contract coming straight out of the Royal Ballet School in London. A lot of the major ballet companies of the world have vocational schools attached to them, I had been a student at the Royal Ballet School since I was eight years old. So I had gone pretty much ten years through the same establishment with the goal of becoming a dancer with the Royal Ballet, and about, I’d say, six or eight months into my contract I sprained my ankle in a performance, which is about the worst thing that can happen to a young dancer who is aspiring to, you know, dance big roles, big, major roles in the company like the Royal Ballet. So I was sitting at home, my foot was up on the couch completely encased in ice, and I was watching TV, you know, as one has a tendency to do when you’re pretty much out of action for six to eight weeks, and a commercial came on TV for Hoover vacuum cleaners, and they were having this kind of special deal at the time where if you bought a particular type of vacuum cleaner, you could get a free round trip ticket to the United States, I think specifically to New York, and so I was, like, well, you know, I’ve got to clean, so why not? It just seemed like a pretty good deal, you know, 60 pounds for a new vacuum cleaner, and then you get, you know, three or four hundred dollars worth of ticket. So I limped out to buy my vacuum cleaner, and sent off my little coupon, and sure enough I got my round trip ticket to New York, and I flew out here really just to have a week’s vacation, but it was kind of towards the end of my rehabilitation program from the sprained ankle, so I called the New York City Ballet to see if I could take a class with them, partly out of interest. The big companies tend to have sort of an open door policy if you’re part of a major ballet company somewhere, you can usually write them a letter, you know, or give them a call and they’ll let you come in and take a company class. So I went into ballet class, and they were auditioning boys for a big upcoming festival, and suddenly at the end of my first day in New York, I had a job offer, which was just completely out of the blue, and now I look back on it, it’s, you know, it was definitely fate. So, yeah, I was like, “Well, I have a job and I haven’t even seen the Empire State Building yet.”

Recorded on: 5/22/08


A Twist of Fate, or a Pirou...

Newsletter: Share: