The Teatro alla Scala and ballet company join the mourning in the dance world for the passing of Patricia Ruanne, a great performer and maître de ballet.
She was entrusted with important choreographic restagings at our theatre, which linked her career to the Royal Ballet and the London Festival Ballet, to the Paris Opera, the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome and to Teatro alla Scala where she was principal maître in 1999-2000 and then director of the company for the 2000-2001 season.
In 1975 she performed at our theatre in Petipa/Ivanov's Swan Lake in a version by John Field dancing alongside Paolo Bortoluzzi. She also supervised the revival of Giselle for the 2000 tour, and previously of Rudolf Nureyev's Sleeping Beauty, from 1993 to 1996, as well as Nureyev's Cinderella in 1998, when this version entered La Scala's repertoire for the first time.
Her name is inextricably intertwined with that of Rudolf Nureyev: for her he created the role of Juliet in his production of Romeo and Juliet, dancing it with her at her debut for the London Festival Ballet in 1977, and later inviting her, when he became Director of the Paris Opera Ballet, as maître de ballet of the Company, a role she held for ten years, from 1986.
Manuel Legris, now Director of the La Scala Ballet, who became étoile of the Paris Opera Ballet in 1986, has an indelible memory:
For ten years I worked alongside her every day, tackling all the ballets in the repertoire, for six hours a day and even more. It was precious being able to confront the ballets and roles I worked on with her. She was one of a kind, for her extraordinary intelligence and her knowledge of the theatre, which she passed on to me not only in technique but, perhaps above all, in the delicate process of identifying with a role, to truly experience it, and to feel it on a total and theatrical level.
With thoroughness, great knowledge and experience, and great openness, she was the maître who followed me most closely and made me what I am. So much so that in Vienna, when I became director of the ballet company, I invited her to supervise the revival of Manon, to renew our collaboration and continue this important transmission of knowledge. Unforgettable.
Patricia Ruanne (born 3 June 1945; died 1 November 2022)
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.