“Patricia Ruanne: A Conversation With a Ballet Répétiteur” is from the Document(s) series, a library of commentary on people and issues in the dance field. This repository of essays includes interviews by writers and thinkers on dance, as well as “dance discursions,” which offer opportunities for reflection on the field of dance commissioned by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
For the dancer, learning a role is more than simply memorizing a series of steps, particularly in the realm of ballet where dances are frequently restaged long after the choreographer has died. Individual coaching and mentoring is essential to the interpretation of a role. Ballet répétiteurs work one-on-one with dance artists to articulate and find the essence of a character or particular portrayal that becomes distinctive to their physicality. This article, along with “Georgina Parkinson: A Dancer in Her Time / Making the Blueprint” and “Julie Lincoln, Répétiteur: Inhabiting the Bodies of Others,” offers a glimpse into the life of an influential woman who inhabited this role.
This interview took place on March 2, 2001, at the Palais Garnier in Paris, where Ruanne was engaged with the restaging of Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon for the Paris Opera Ballet.
From the interview:
“Patricia Ruanne is concerned with the abiding aesthetic and ethical values that constitute ballet as an art form. In this world, artistic values are informed by aesthetics as well as ethics. Her impressive record as a dance artist—as performer, coach, ballet mistress, répétiteur—has yielded a remarkable career. Ruanne’s articulate assessment of the European ballet scene is framed by her early years spent in the Royal Ballet schools and companies, the 1960s through the early 1980s—a period marked by prolific creativity and strong performing personalities—as well as by her long and formative working association with Rudolf Nureyev.”