Dance Magazine Award Spotlight: Patricia Wilde
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.
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.
Leading class at ABT in 1971
Photo by Herbert Migdoll, DM Archives
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured at top: Patricia Wilde in Balanchine's Sylvia, circa early 1950s. Photo by Walter E. Owen, DM Archives.
It took two years of intense nutrition counseling and psychotherapy to pull me out of being anorexic. My problem now is that I've gained too much weight from eating normally. Is there no middle ground? I can't fit into my clothes, but I don't want to go back to being sick.
—Former Anorexic, Weston, CT
Whatever your feelings about Wayne McGregor's heady, hyper-physical choreography, we can all probably agree on one thing: We'd really, really love to pick his brain. And tomorrow, Dance Umbrella, a UK-based dance festival, is giving everyone the chance to do exactly that.
"Women are often presented as soft, fragile little creatures in ballet," says Léonore Baulac. "We're not." The Paris Opéra Ballet's newest female étoile is discussing her unease at some of the 19th-century narratives she portrays. "It was real acting," she says with a laugh of La Sylphide. "James kills her by taking away her wings, yet she tells him not to worry and goes to die elsewhere onstage!"
Sitting in the canteen of the Palais Garnier, Baulac embodies some of ballet's contradictions in the 21st century. With her fair curls and dainty features, she could easily pass for a little girl's fantasy princess. As Juliet, she exuded a girlish ardor that felt entirely natural; her reservations notwithstanding, her Sylphide was committed and carefully Romantic in style.
Yet the 27-year-old is no ingénue. At Garnier that day, her sweater reads "I can't believe I still have to protest this s**t," a feminist slogan; last winter, Baulac proudly wore it over a Kitri tutu on Instagram. And her repertoire is as thoroughly modern as she is offstage. A versatile performer even by Parisian standards, she is equally at home in Nutcracker as she is in the works of Pina Bausch and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
You know Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo as the men who parody your favorite ballet variations—and make it look good. But there's more to the iconic troupe than meets the eye.
A new documentary, Rebels on Pointe, goes behind the scenes of the company, and it's full of juicy tidbits about what it's like to be a Trock. These were some of our favorite moments:
We always figured that stretching made us more flexible by loosening up our muscles and joints. Some of us, ahem, might have even tried to fall asleep in our middle splits to get our stubbornly stiff inner thighs to let go.
But it turns out that might not actually be how stretching works.
A new review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Science & Medicine in Sports suggests that increased flexibility actually comes from your brain growing more used to the tension.
Efficient movement is easy to recognize—we all know when we see a dancer whose every action seems essential and unmannered. Understanding how to create this effect, however, is far more elusive. From a practical perspective, dancing with efficiency helps you to conserve your energy and minimize wear and tear on the body; from an artistic point of view, it allows you to make big impressions out of little moments, and lasting memories for those watching.
So much struggle and determination goes into your training that it can be difficult for early-career dancers to recalibrate their priorities toward simplicity and ease, says Laurel Jenkins, freelance performer and Trisha Brown Dance Company staging artist. "Your aesthetic might shift, and you might have to find new things beautiful." Mastering the art of effortless movement requires a new perspective and a smart strategy—on- and offstage.
After 30 years of pioneering work in physically integrated dance, AXIS Dance Company co-founder Judith Smith has announced plans to retire from the Oakland, California, company. Throughout her tenure, she strived to get equal recognition for integrated dance and disabled dancers, commissioning work from high-profile choreographers like Bill T. Jones. Her efforts generated huge momentum for expanded training, choreography, education and advocacy for dancers with disabilities.
By phone from her home in Oakland, Smith reflected on how far the field has evolved since the early days of AXIS, and what's yet to be done.
You know that how you care for your body before curtain can impact your performance. But with so many factors to consider, it can be difficult to nail down an exact routine. How much rest is enough? How close to showtime should you eat? We asked the experts.
How do you make your athleisure collection stand out from the pack? Get the ultimate studio-to-street seal of approval by having dancers star in your campaign, of course.
For his second collaboration with activewear brand Carbon38, ready-to-wear designer Jonathan Simkhai traded in his usual top models like Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss for the original Hiplet dancers—and the resulting video is as cool as we'd expect from such a fierce collaboration.
Again and again, dance teaches me that when the filters fall away between people—when the boundaries of geography, religion and politics soften—the beginning and end of our relationships is always human.
In March, I traveled with Keigwin + Company to Cote D'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Tunisia, on a tour sponsored by the US State Department and facilitated by DanceMotion USA/Brooklyn Academy of Music. Our mission was cultural diplomacy: Simply, to share ourselves with diverse communities, to promote common understanding and friendships.
Our last stop was Tunisia. Until that point, we had mostly been learning varieties of traditional African dance, and sharing American modern dance. But Tunisia was different. The dancers already had a solid grasp of contemporary movement invention. Though we didn't speak the same language, we could make movement vocabulary with surprising ease. Everything about our backgrounds was different, but there was this special intersection through dance that seemed to present an open door to collaboration.