Dance Magazine Award Spotlight: Patricia Wilde

posted by Jenny Dalzell on Friday, Nov 22, 2013
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There are only a handful of dance teachers who can pass on Balanchine's style as authentically as Patricia Wilde. Though she joined New York City Ballet in 1950, Wilde's association with Mr. B began years earlier, as a student at the School of American Ballet and then as a principal artist with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, for which Balanchine was chief choreographer from 1944–1946. Today, Wilde continues to keep Balanchine's work alive. At 85, she still travels across the country as a guest teacher, inspiring countless young dancers. On December 9, Wilde will receive a 2013 Dance Magazine Award for her invaluable work as an educator, dancer and director.

 

A principal dancer with NYCB until 1965, Wilde served as frequent muse to Balanchine. He created nearly 20 roles for her in ballets including Scotch Symphony, Raymonda Variations and La Valse. In Dance Magazine's September 1971 issue, Tobi Tobias wrote of Wilde's exuberance onstage:

 

It was clarity, that beautiful sharpness in Wilde's dancing that gave it its focus and impact. She would flash into each position, seeming to arrest it for a second, so that it registered, forever, in the viewer's memory before she glided through to the next phrase. You'd notice this precision of movement in small, but very basic things, like the way she finished a step by closing into an absolutely perfect fifth position...and in the big flashy ones. Take that moment in Serenade where, running at top speed, she would turn—body almost horizontal—in mid-air, and throw herself into her partner's arms. It was either make it there smack on the dot or expect a couple of broken ribs. Pat always made it.

     She had unerring musicality. With an innate sense of rhythm, she allied her movement to the beat so that the accent of her steps and the pulse of the music became one thing. And she had a superb gift for phrasing. She learned to bear her movement on the physical breath and on the musical breath; it was buoyant; it flowed.

 

la valse
Wilde in costume for Balanchine's La Valse, circa 1951.
Photo by Walter E. Owen,
DM Archives

 

After retiring from the stage, Wilde directed the Harkness House ballet school for two years. In 1967, she joined American Ballet Theatre as company teacher and soon after assumed the role of ballet mistress.

 

at abt class
Leading class at ABT in 1971
Photo by Herbert Migdoll,
DM Archives

 

coaching makarova 1971
Wilde coaching Natalia Makarova at ABT in 1971
Photo by Herbert Migdoll,
DM Archives

 

From 1982 until 1997, Wilde was the artistic director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where she greatly expanded the company's school and the foundation of the company itself. As Joel Lobenthal reports in Dance Magazine's December issue, Wilde increased the company's performance season, raised dancers' salaries, and oversaw construction of a new building to house PBT.

 

at pbt
Coaching former PBT principal Laura Desiree for Balanchine's Square Dance in 1996
Photo by Brian Rushton,
DM Archives

 

The 2013 Dance Magazine Awards, honoring Philip Glass, Martha Clarke, Mats Ek, Patricia Wilde and Yuan Yuan Tan, will be held December 9 at the  The Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC. The ceremony is open to the public with a reception immediately following. Tickets are available for $50; contact Ashley Mathus at 212-979-4872 or dmawards@dancemedia.com.

 

Pictured at top: Patricia Wilde in Balanchine's Sylvia, circa early 1950s. Photo by Walter E. Owen, DM Archives.

The 2013 Dance Magazine Awards, honoring Philip Glass, Martha Clarke, Mats Ek, Patricia Wilde and Yuan Yuan Tan, will be held December 9 at the  The Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC. The ceremony is open to the public with a reception immediately following. Tickets are available for $50; contact Ashley Mathus at 212-979-4872 or dmawards@dancemedia.com. - See more at: http://www.dancemagazine.com/blogs/admin-admin/5482#sthash.CKEMvDov.dpuf