|Former Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Artictic Director, Patricia Wilde Credit: Gene Puskar|
Starting around 1985, I only got to meet Patricia Wilde in person a couple of times, but saw her from a distance on several occasions during visits to a ballet performance. Over the years, as I learned more about her stunning career, my admiration for her both as a dancer and an arts administrator grew. Yesterday, I was thrilled to learn that her talents and abilities are being recognized by an important arts organization.
Joining dance visionaries like George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) Artistic Director Patricia Wilde will become the National Museum of Dance’s 56th Hall of Fame inductee next month. The museum will formally induct her into the Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame at its annual gala, Aug. 13, in Saratoga Springs, New York. As part of the honor, the museum will curate an exhibit showcasing her more than 50-year career in dance.
From photos to a past pair of pointe shoes, Wilde’s daughter Anya Davis helped her mother gather and send memorabilia to Saratoga for the exhibition. Davis will join Wilde in Saratoga for the Hall of Fame induction, along with Wilde’s son, Youri Bardyguine, and her two grandsons, Nicholas and Alexei Bardyguine.
|Patricia Wilde Credit: Gene Puskar|
A former New York City Ballet (NYCB) principal dancer, Wilde led Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for 15 years and still resides in Pittsburgh today.
At age 88, Wilde remains deeply connected to the ballet field. Just this summer, author Joel Lobenthal released the first biography on her career: “Wilde Times: Patricia Wilde, George Balanchine, and the Rise of New York City Ballet.” The Library Journal wrote, "This first biography of the performer presents a window into the world of Balanchine at an important time in dance history."
As the 56th Hall of Fame inductee, Wilde will join Balanchine, and a diverse group of influential artists, including Martha Graham, Igor Stravinsky, Jerome Robbins, Edward Villella, Arthur Mitchell, Jacques d’Amboise, as well as 2015 honorees, Rudolf Nureyev and Mark Morris.
“Patricia Wilde is a true force. Onstage, she had this captivating presence and a speed and purity to her dancing that was something special,” said Terrence S. Orr, PBT artistic director. “She brought that incredible sensibility to Pittsburgh and really helped put Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre on the map. She continues to drop in to watch rehearsal and catch up with the company. We are incredibly proud to see her honored in the National Museum of Dance Hall of Fame.”
Wilde launched her ballet career at age 14 with Marquis de Cuevas Ballet International, went on to dance with the famous Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and joined New York City Ballet in 1950 – just two years after its founding. During her 15 years a principal dancer at NYCB, Wilde worked extensively with its choreographer and co-founder George Balanchine, who created nearly 20 roles for her in ballets including “Scotch Symphony,” “Raymonda Variations,” “La Valse” and “Square Dance.”
After retiring from the stage, Wilde directed the Harkness House of Ballet in New York, helped Balanchine establish the school for the Grand Theatre of Geneva, served as ballet mistress for American Ballet Theatre and as director of the American Ballet Theatre School. She led PBT as artistic director from 1982 to 1997.
Wilde passed on the iconic Balanchine technique to another generation of dancers. She worked to diversify PBT’s repertoire, introducing Balanchine classics and commissioning new works from emerging choreographer.
In 2013, she received a Dance Magazine Award “for her invaluable work as an educator, dancer and director.”
Patricia Wilde in Class Credit: Susan Cook
About the National Museum of Dance
Founded in 1986, the National Museum of Dance is the only museum in this country dedicated entirely to the art of dance. The museum welcomes over 10,000 visitors annually, presents several engaging exhibitions each year, and offers a wide range of live performances including opera, musicals, and theatrical works. The National Museum of Dance is located in Saratoga Spa State Park in New York and is deeply connected to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The School of the Arts is one of the leading not-for-profit dance schools in New York State, serving students of all ages and abilities, with a strong focus on technique and artistic development.