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Remembering Patricia McBride


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#31 kfw

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 04:48 PM

Adams is certainly a candidate for our next "remembering" thread, :wallbash: But even I have only the dimmest memories. Agon with Arthur Mitchell is one,

Yes, please! I hope someone will post memories of Adams, and of that first cast of Agon.

#32 dirac

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:53 PM

Did McBride ever think of leaving, I wonder? Somehow I imagine her as just braving through, and taking solace in were own special Balanchine ballets, where Farrell could not hope to compete.


I don't think so. Because of her partnership with Villella, and Robbins' return to the company later, she wasn't as affected by the ascendancy of Farrell as other ballerinas. I remember her quoted saying that Villella was her 'savior' during those years, although she also felt the ballets made for the two of them were more creations for Villella than for her.

#33 papeetepatrick

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 07:54 PM

Did McBride ever think of leaving, I wonder? Somehow I imagine her as just braving through, and taking solace in were own special Balanchine ballets, where Farrell could not hope to compete.


I don't think so. Because of her partnership with Villella, and Robbins' return to the company later, she wasn't as affected by the ascendancy of Farrell as other ballerinas. I remember her quoted saying that Villella was her 'savior' during those years, although she also felt the ballets made for the two of them were more creations for Villella than for her.


That's good. I had thought it would read something like that, so that these extra details are very good to get; and this all does demonstrate still further the singularity I see her as inhabiting.

#34 4mrdncr

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 09:16 PM

... but that does not take into account all the other pieces in the repertory, or the subjective feeling we eventually define as the one that means the most to us, in dancers (or any kinds of performers or creative artists), if they are up on a comparable technical and artistic level ... that is what the balletgoer cares most about, who he/she loves most. We are not mostly concerned with the external, with the facade of the WHOLE New York City Ballet apparatus and edifice as it is erected in some kind of inner hallucination for us. We look at a lot of work, and decide 'that means the most to me for reasons I can point to.' And we are all the better equpped to do this when it is a matter of performers who are on an already very high level...


A little OT I know but I wanted to say...
Thank you for the above accurate and wonderful description of both a balletomane and why my answer to most who ask me which dancer(s) I prefer is, "It's not that one dances better than another, but rather, dances differently." It's the difference(s) that matter to me. And only after I've thoroughly analyzed the how & why of those differences, do I finally figure out whether I prefer one dancer more than another. Like you said, "We look at a lot of work, and decide 'that means the most to me for reasons I can point to.'"

#35 bart

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 09:45 AM

my answer to most who ask me which dancer(s) I prefer is, "It's not that one dances better than another, but rather, dances differently." It's the difference(s) that matter to me. And only after I've thoroughly analyzed the how & why of those differences, do I finally figure out whether I prefer one dancer more than another.

Great point, 4mrdnr. The New York City Ballet when I attended regularly was a marvelous institution for watching those differences and learning how to appreciate them. Everyone had favorites, but I don't recall this getting out of hand or out of touch with reality.

This thread is teaching me something about McBride's range. Of COURSE she was most striking in the roles Balanchine created on her. But, she also did second-cast work -- as did everyone else -- in roles for which she was probably not perfectly suited, but to which she brought her own personality and style.

Question: Patrick, can you tell us more about your memories of McBride in Liebeslieder Walzer?

Also, does anyone know if McBride ever danced the Balanchine Swan Lake?

#36 papeetepatrick

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 09:54 AM

Question: Patrick, can you tell us more about your memories of McBride in Liebeslieder Walzer?

Also, does anyone know if McBride ever danced the Balanchine Swan Lake?


Will fill in later on Liebeslieder, it was great all right, that perf, want to reiterate before stepping out what you've just said about McBride in Swan Lake, also interested in Farrell and Verdy in it--I imagine they all did it, and I wish I could have seen all of them. Mainly because the only performance I ever saw Hayden in was 'Swan Lake', and that alone puts her all the way to the top with the others I've seen more. I just won't ever forget that one apparition-like appearance of Melissa.

#37 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 10:01 AM

Yes, bart, she did: I opened my copy of Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review, and there across the bottom of page 131 was a performance photo, with not quite a dozen corps "swans" behind them all down on one knee, arms back, of her and her frequent partner, Edward Villella. "Mid-60s (new production)," says the caption, "...(Photo Martha Swope)" We see her bent deeply back toward downstage and our right over his supporting right arm, her left foot on pointe, the right raised back, her arms outstretched, palms outward, and elbows bent. As Odette, she could well be struggling a bit for her freedom here; it's a dramatic shot, enhanced by being spread across the bottom third of the page in a book where many of the pictures are rather small for their best effect.

#38 bart

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 10:10 AM

Wow! You're right! Thanks, Jack. I had noticed Villella in this photo but hand't troubled to read the caption. So that's McBride! Different make-up, untypical pose, unexpected context: who would have thought? :wub:

#39 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 10:19 AM

Well, yes, in this picture we see her face in profile, more or less, and upside down at that. But, not to chide anyone, I'd argue that she's pretty recognizable just by the way she holds herself. Which reminds me of the time she and Helgi Tomasson came to Chicago to headline the first performances of Ruth Page's annual Nutcracker. When the curtain went up on the second act, there she was at the back of the stage in her pink Sugar Plum costume, holding her fairy wand up in the air. She stood still better than anybody had moved in the whole first act! And then of course, after a while, we would see her and Helgi move and show us Balanchine's pas de deux! And all I'd had to do was hop on a train to McCormick Place, no airplanes, no hotels. When I showed up for their subsequent three shows, arriving at intermission, the guy in the ticket window thought I was nuts. (A good judge of character...)

#40 papeetepatrick

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 11:54 AM

Thanks, 4rmrdncr, for your kind words and the excellent addition you made to mine.

Bart, yes, Croce has something, I'm pretty sure I read it there, in 'Writing in the Dark' on that same period of 'Liebeslieder' casting, but this is what you were talking about the more tranquil, contemplative, serene Patricia McBride. In this, from 1985 performance, I remember her face more than I do the rest of her dancing. It was uncanny, and I saw the expression one other time on her face as she left Juilliard from rehearsal. Several dancers made a strong impression in that performance, and Farrell was also marvelous in what I recall is a much more extroverted role, she is very youthful. These remind me a bit, these differences in character types, of the Women in White, Red and Yellow in Graham's 'Diversion of Angels', which is one of the more balletic Graham pieces but still not ballet in the strict sense, of course. Not that the contrast was quite that strong, but Farrell's is slightly like the youthful 'Woman in Yellow', who is really more a girl, that's about 'young love'. McBride's character here is more like the Apollonian 'Woman in White' who ultimately prevails over the erotic 'Woman in Red' in 'Diversion'. There is not really 'prevailing over' in the Liebeslieder Walzer, I think, in the same sense, and no parallel at all to the Woman in Red, as I recall, and didn't notice anything of that sort when I saw it in 2006 either. I do remember being equally dazzled by Bart Cook's dancing, there was this 'dancing fiend' about him that day, and maybe very often. I also recall Jock Soto was dancing that day, and Maria Calegari, but memory doesn't serve quite as well, except that Calegari was, as always, very elegant.

But McBride and her serenity is definitely the primary image I retain from that performance, but then this always then recalls Farrell's seeming 'excitement to dance'. when she was seated there was this sense that she couldn't wait to get up and dance again, a youthful quality. This could be an incorrect impression, but if so, I did have it at the time, not invented years later. And then always follows how fabulous Bart Cook was and how wonderful the men's costumes look in that.

Thanks for the info on 'Swan Lake' and McBride, Jack.

#41 Helene

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 03:26 PM

In her article for the Summer 2009 Ballet Review on Todd Bolender and Kansas City Ballet, she notes that for the closing performance of his first season, guests Patricia McBride and Alexander Godunov danced pas de deux from "Giselle" and "Le Corsaire" and Balanchine's "Pas de Dix".

#42 sandik

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 04:51 PM

In her article for the Summer 2009 Ballet Review on Todd Bolender and Kansas City Ballet, she notes that for the closing performance of his first season, guests Patricia McBride and Alexander Godunov danced pas de deux from "Giselle" and "Le Corsaire" and Balanchine's "Pas de Dix".


In the film "A Portrait of Giselle" there's a sequence of Anton Dolin coaching Mc Bride and (I think) Helgi Tomasson in Giselle, act 1.

#43 bart

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 08:39 AM

sandik, a long time ago I saw a very brief part of this on YouTube, right before the end of one of the clips. thanks for the refereance. I'll have to locate the entire film (or the next clip in the series).

4mrdncr, on another thread you wrote:

But of course I remember ... PMcB (whom I did see live when she did "Bugaku" with her husband in Amherst.)

I'd love to hear your memories of this. What was the occasion? At the College or UMass? What did you think? What DID the audience make of it?

#44 bart

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 04:17 PM

Just came across the following photo: McBride and Tomasson rehearsing Afternoon of a Faun for (huh ? :) ) the "Stravinsky Festival" (1972). I've never seen a McBride photo like this.

http://images.google...img...=100&um=1

#45 carbro

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 07:29 PM

You misread the caption. Please, note error where error is due. :)

Stravinsky Festival '72
New York City Ballet dancers
Helge [sic] Tomasson & Patricia McBride rehearsing for production of "The Afternoon of a Swan" [sic] at the Stravinsky Festival at the New York State Theater.

I have noticed so many errors in the Life photo posts, it's ridiculous. Embarrassing, actually.

This may have been in '72, but as I recall (and unfortunately I wasn't there) the Stravinsky Festival was wall-to-wall Stravinsky. No fauns -- or even Swans.


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