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perky

Patricia McBride

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The first time I saw Patricia McBride dance was on The Steadfast Tin Soldier/Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux tape. I'm ashamed to admit now, but my first thought on viewing her was, "what terrible feet!" She had a way of standing over on her pointes that I found displeasing. But watching the tape through repeated viewings I slowly began to realize what an wonderfully appealing and beautiful dancer she was ( I even think her feet are lovely now.) She had such an open almost serene look on her face. You just feel happy watching her! The hint of coy mischief she brings to the doll part in Steadfast is so wonderful to watch.

To all of those who saw her dance live during her long career please comment on what you thought of her. What were her best qualities, her best roles.

Also I was wondering why she hasn't done a taped coaching session for the Balanchine Archives? Would love to see her coach Who Cares, Rubies , etc.

Thanks.

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I saw Patty McBride dance 'Voices of Spring' from VIENNA WALTZES in the early '80's. She danced beautifully and projected a warmth and radiance that was all her own.

Melissa

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On my very first visit to NYCB, the first ballet of the evening was BAISER DE LA FEE and the ballerina was McBride. I fell in love with her right away and she was one of the main reasons I kept going. Her smile was incredible and to me she always seemed to convey her joy of dancing. For someone who might be thought of as "big soubrette" (COPPELIA, TIN SOLDIER, HARLEQUINADE) she actually had a huge range and I vividly remember her in BUGAKU, DYBBUK, FAUN, and THE CAGE.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting her when I worked briefly with her daughter. Her smile lit up my day, just like it always did when she danced.

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Until Suzanne Farrell came along, Patricia McBride was my favourite NYCB dancer, next to Allegra Kent. To me she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. In the 60s she was truly a young beauty, with a personality to match.

I loved her feet, perky, but I know what you mean! On video they don't look quite the same as when viewed from the middle of Row A of the State Theater. They were such articulate, hard-working feet. Was she ever a fast dancer -- sharp, precise, nimble -- with a bright, wide smile on top of it all. I don't think she ever broke into a sweat! She could just about do anything, and I saw her in every ballet she was cast in, several times.

She was classy, cute and intelligent, all rolled into one. Together with Eddie Villella, they were a star couple. They had a flirtatious, affectionate onstage connectedness, each flamboyantly bravura, yet warm and down-home, a boyfriend-girlfrend kind of partnership that always brought down the house. Oh, how I miss them!

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Perky -

I can't speak for the Balanchine Foundation, but I'm pretty sure that the main reason McBride hasn't been asked to coach some of her original roles is that she's younger than most of the people who have already done tapings. They're just starting to document that generation (Farrell and Tomasson) and I think even those sessions happened serendipitously and the opportunity presented itself. I think we'll see a McBride session as well.

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I didn't see McBride live until she returned to the company after the birth of her daughter when she was in her late 30's. By then she was no longer dancing the virtuouso roles like Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, Theme and Variations, Four Seasons, Allegro Brilliante, Tarantella (at least not often), roles which NYCB histories and memoirs and reviews record her as having danced brilliantly. Lincoln Kirstein said that she "saved" NYCB during Farrell's absence from '68-'74.

Her technique was somewhat diminished in the last four years of her career, but I can't remember her ever dancing without energy or a sense of the stage space or the other dancers on it. I did see her perform in some of her original roles -- she was hysterically funny in "Costermongers" in Union Jack, delightful in Who Cares ("The Man I Love" and "Fascinatin' Rhythm"), Scotch Symphony, Vienna Waltzes, and Rubies, strong in Opus 19/The Dreamer, and lovely in Baiser de la Fee and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (2nd movement). She was also a radiant Sugar Plum Fairy in the first performance of Balanchine's Nutcracker that I ever saw, a tough Novice in The Cage, moving in Liebeslieder Walzer (Hayden's role, one she took over soon after the premiere in 1960), and lovely in Sonatine (created for Verdy). The only roles I didn't love her in were Valse Triste (Martins), Pavane, Shadows (a 1986 Bonnefous piece), and the "classical" role in Cortege Hongrois, mostly because, except for the latter, I don't really like any of these ballets.

I envy those who saw her in her prime. For me, the way I remember her is at her last performance, which ended with the piano solo from Harlequinade. It was the humble bow at the end that was the perfect gesture, and the audience clapped and screamed and threw flowers, many with tears running down their faces.

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Patricia McBride was the prime reason I started going to New York City Ballet regularly. In the late sixties, when I was just learning about the performing arts, I had only heard about Giselle and Swan Lake. Then one night I saw a program at NYCB that included the Brahms-Schoenberg. The magic that was Patricia McBride -- particularly the Intermezzo section of that ballet -- started me on my journey of exploring the Balanchine rep. She was sui generis. She is still my favorite dancer of all time. Perky, if you just look at the ballets that were created on Patti, you will know what kind of dancer she was. Previous posters have mentioned some of her repetory, so I won't reiterate it here. Without her, we literally would not have had a good portion that is the glory of the Balanchine opus.

Characteristics of her dancing: sheer joy, drama, magic. She is the one dancer who, in my opinion, who has been irreplaceable. (I know, FF, you will say Suzanne!) I've seen very satisfying renditions of SF's roles, but no one (with the possible exception at times of Nichole Hlinka) has done true justice to Patti's roles. For those of you who were at NYCB in the seventies, you will remember that Patti was always called back by the applause at least two -- and often three times -- during Who Cares after her Fascinatin' Rhythm solo. When have you heard that kind of enthusiam at NYCB in the last twenty years?

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Not only was Patty McBride's "Fascinatin' Rhythm" solo in "Who Cares" incomparable, so was her "The Man I Love" with Jacques d'Amboise. This isn't just nostalgia talking -- nobody has ever come close to them. As bobbi says, Patty was unique. It was a privilege to be going to the ballet when two great ballerinas were in the same company at the same time, Patty and Suzanne, both of them embraceable and irreplaceable. :D

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Yes, Bobbi, I well remember (and miss) the enthusiasm that dancers like McBride used to stir up. Being called out 2 or 3 times was not unusual and curtain calls used to go on longer and louder.

But I think in general we just don't see ovations like we used to. My last few visits to ABT found even big names like Corella and Ananashvili getting solid but hardly rapturous applause. Things are even worse at the opera, where the great Pavarotti's Met farewell last week only got 10 minutes of cheers. OK, 11 minutes.

Audiences just don't get involved; they want to rush out & check their cell-phone messages or get to the subway.

Biggest ovation I ever encountered at the ballet: Fracci & Nureyev after GISELLE with La Scala Ballet.

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First of all, I must say I have never seen Mc Bride dancing (only a little bit too-little with Misha rehearsing Steadfast Tin Soldier),but I have seen photos and read about her.

I own a book called "Dancershoes". In this book lots of dancers write what they do to their shoes, how they care for them, etc. McBride says that though all people criticized her for her way of standing "over" her toes instead of pushing up from the shoe, she felt that this way was the most confortable for the structure of her feet. There is a photo of one of her feet, and I must say I like that particular photo a lot.

It is also interesting to note Gelsey Kirkland's comments on that same book: that once she had to substitute for McBride in an emergency, and that she had to wear Patty's shoes as well (because she had none of her own already sewn). Kirkland says that she felt she could have balanced forever in Patty's shoes - that it was an effort NOT to hold a balance in her shoes

Thought this might be interesting to you.

Silvy

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Thanks Silvy, by the way I've completely changed my mind about McBride's feet being unattrative. I now think they are as lovely as her ageless and beautiful face :)

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she was hysterically funny in "Costermongers" in Union Jack

I was never a great fan of McBride. She always seemed like a delicate china doll to me. Not that I found any fault with her dancing, it was a chemistry thing that didn't appeal to me. Until she did her funny Costermonger in Union Jack. She suddenly seemed very human and I bacame a fan after that. Weird, how those things work. Sometimes you see a dancer do something that just turns you on to them.

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Another thing that nobody has ever done as well as Patty is the bump-and-grind in Costermongers. :devil:

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The first thing I saw McBride in was Baiser-- to echo Oberon-- :ermm: . I have wished ever since that I had been older (although I went to a performing arts school and knew a tiny bit about ballet at the time, such a performance as hers can't be grasped by an adolescent) but I have also remembered, forever, the indelible impact of her dancing and personality. I never saw anyone else like her, and when I recall the end of her variation (a triple pirouette on the diagonal, two on point, one off-- talk about TROUBLE....) I still have a frisson. Even Helgi Tomasson, an icon of grace, strength, and refinement, could not take my attention from her. Later I saw her in many of her created roles, and especially remember the Intermezzo and the curved lines she made in it; I've never seen those lines recreated by another ballerina, though many wonderful dancers have done the part. She once said in an interview that she had a "special arc" for Brahms, meaning the line of her back and the epaulement, I assume, and it isn't surprising. I had the pleasure of taking a friend to Jewels once-- with McBride at forty AFTER maternity leave dancing Rubies-- I said nothing about her age, of course, and after the performance (which had included Nichols and Farrell.....) all he could say was WHO IS THAT BALLERINA???? I said, yes, she's great, isn't she. How old do you think she is? he said, oh, twenty-eight, thirty? I said, well, actually, forty, with a child. I'll never forget his face! :unsure:

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