PATRICIA MCBRIDE coaches excerpts from GEORGE BALANCHINE'S THE NUTCRACKER® for cameras of THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION VIDEO ARCHIVES
New York City: On May 1, 2023, in the New York City Ballet studios, Lincoln Center, New York, long-time NYCB principal dancer Patricia McBride worked with NYCB soloist Erica Pereira on the Sugar Plum Fairy variation, a role she had often performed with NYCB beginning at age 17, and with Pereira and NYCB principal dancer Roman Mejia on the pas de deux and coda of the Christmas classic. The session was overseen by Archives director Paul Boos, assisted by Archives founder Nancy Reynolds, who interviewed McBride at its conclusion. NYCB solo pianist Elaine Chelton provided the accompaniment.
Reviewing an early McBride performance as the Sugar Plum, New York Times critic Clive Barnes admired her "sugar-spun delicacy." Some years later his colleague Jack Anderson wrote that she and Helgi Tomasson gave "a regal account of the pas de deux" in which she "looked particularly radiant." Recently interviewed about how she kept her performance fresh over a 30-year period, McBride replied that she continually found in the choreography something new to explore.
The Nutcracker, with choreography by Marius Petipa, premiered at the Maryinsky Theater, Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1892 as a "fairy ballet" with only moderate success and was never particularly popular in that country until much later. In the 20th century, although at least two other companies in America already had a version of The Nutcracker in repertory, it was the enormous impact of Balanchine's production in 1954 that led to his ballet's becoming an annual event in the New York City Ballet repertory and in companies throughout the United States.
The GBF Video Archives document the insights of dancers, often principals from original casts or those who worked closely with Balanchine. The Archives’ mission is to preserve this knowledge and pass it on to today's dancers, scholars, and audiences. The Archives are available world-wide through public and university libraries. In addition, the interview components can be accessed on the Balanchine Foundation's YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/blnchn).
PATRICIA MCBRIDE, in a long and illustrious career with NYCB, had an extraordinarily large number of works choreographed on her by George Balanchine, including “Rubies” (Jewels), Tarantella, Who Cares?, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia), Harlequinade (Columbine), Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (Intermezzo), Union Jack, Coppélia (Swanhilda), and Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée, among several others. McBride was also favored by Jerome Robbins, who created principal roles for her in Dances at a Gathering, The Goldberg Variations, The Four Seasons, and Opus 19/The Dreamer. With her frequent partner Edward Villella she performed on concert stages around the world. Among her other partners were some of the most noted dancers of her generation, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Helgi Tómasson, and Peter Martins. McBride danced for five presidents. She is the recipient of a Dance Magazine Award and the Kennedy Center Honors. After her retirement from performing in 1989, she joined the faculties of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Chautauqua Institute, before taking up a senior position at the Charlotte Ballet in 1996, where she continues to teach and set excerpts of Balanchine ballets. For the GBF Video Archives she has been recorded coaching her created roles in “Rubies,” Tarantella, Who Cares?, Harlequinade, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and Le Baiser de la Fée.
ERICA PEREIRA, while an apprentice with NYCB, danced Juliet in Peter Martins’s Romeo + Juliet in Spring 2007 and soon afterward joined NYCB as a member of the corps de ballet. In December 2009 she was promoted to soloist and has since appeared in several roles originally premiered by McBride, including “Rubies” (Jewels), Tarantella, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia) and Coppélia (Swanhilda). Other ballets Ms. Pereira has been featured in include dynamic and technical roles in Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, La Source, Square Dance and Raymonda. Ms. Pereira has been coached by McBride for a previous Video Archives recording of Le Baiser de la Fée.
ROMAN MEJIA began his training with his parents, Maria Terezia Balogh and Paul Mejia, in Arlington, Texas, before entering the School of American Ballet (SAB) in 2015. In 2017, Mr. Mejia became an apprentice with NYCB and joined the company as a corps member later in the year. He was promoted to principal in 2023. Mr. Mejia was featured by Dance Magazine in 2019 as one of their “25 To Watch,” was the recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA Dance Fellowship, and was a finalist for the Clive Barnes Award in 2020. An exuberant performer, he has been featured in virtuosic roles, including George Balanchine’s Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Allegro Brillante, Candy Cane from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jerome Robbins’ Other Dances and Fancy Free and Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Fandango. Mr. Mejia can be seen being coached by Patricia McBride for the GBF Video Archives in Tarantella, by Patricia Wilde and Robert Barnett in Western Symphony, and by Jacques d’Amboise in Stars and Stripes.
NANCY REYNOLDS is the founding director of the George Balanchine Video Archives. She is a former dancer with New York City Ballet and has been Director of Research for The George Balanchine Foundation since 1994, when she conceived and for over 25 years directed the Video Archives program. Among her books are Repertory in Review: Forty Years of the New York City Ballet, No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century (co-authored with Malcolm McCormick) and Remembering Lincoln. In 2013 she received a “Bessie” Award for “outstanding service to the field of dance.” On camera for the GBF Video Archives, she has conducted interviews with Maria Tallchief, Melissa Hayden, Patricia Wildle, Patricia McBride, Frederic Franklin, Todd Bolender, and Edward Villella, among others.
PAUL BOOS, Director of the Video Archives since 2021, is a former dancer with NYCB and répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust. His work for the Trust has been presented at a number of theaters, including the Maryinsky, Bolshoi, Paris Opera, La Scala, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Boston Ballet. He also guest teaches abroad and locally.
The George Balanchine Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1983 with the goal of creating programs that educate the public and further Balanchine’s work and aesthetic. Among the GBF’s major initiatives are the Video Archives, in which dancers who worked closely with Balanchine teach and coach their roles with the dancers of today (Interpreters Archive) or recreate sections of ballets that are rarely performed or in danger of disappearing (Archive of Lost Choreography). Legendary dancers who have taken part in this project include Alicia Alonso, Jacques d’Amboise, Suzanne Farrell, Frederic Franklin, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Alicia Markova, Patricia McBride, Maria Tallchief, Violette Verdy, Patricia Wilde, Edward Villella, and others, working with dancers from such companies as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco, Boston, Pacific Northwest and Suzanne Farrell ballets.
In 2007 the Foundation announced another major initiative, the online publication of the Balanchine Catalogue, a fully searchable database giving first-performance details of all known dances created by Balanchine and supplemented by lists of companies staging his ballets, a bibliography, a videography, reference resources, a database of roles Balanchine performed, and related information. The project was made possible by a leadership grant from The Jerome Robbins Foundation. An expanded and updated version, enhanced by visuals, was introduced in June 2022 (www.balanchine.org).
The George Balanchine Foundation expresses its profound gratitude to the following donors: The Brown Foundation, Agnes Gund, Barbara D. Horgan, The New York State Council on the Arts, the Pettit Foundation, Nancy R. Reynolds, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Denise Littlefield Sobel, and Louisa Stude Sarofim; and to Leslie Tonner Curtis, Nancy S. Furlotti, Jeffrey A. Horwitz, The National Endowment for the Arts, Meryl Rosofsky and Stuart H. Coleman, The Evelyn Sharp Foundation, Resa and Heiner Sussner, and I. Peter Wolff.