#TBT: Patricia McBride and Edward Villella in “The Nutcracker” (1964)

December 2, 2020

For many dancers, this December will be the first they can remember without Nutcracker performances, giving us all the more reason to revisit Nutcrackers past. In this clip from 1964, former New York City Ballet principals Patricia McBride and Edward Villella perform a pas de deux as Marie and the Nutcracker Prince, choreographed by Kurt Jacob.

The footage, from a made-for-TV Nutcracker movie that originally aired in Germany before being broadcast in the U.S., has a festive, vintage feel. McBride, who appears as the grown-up Marie, wears a charming black and white dress and red satin pointe shoes, while Villella is dashing as the Nutcracker Prince in bright military red. In a voice-over, the narrator describes Marie dancing in “unlimited space”—a sensation that McBride evokes through her long, energetic lines and extensions that reach beyond 90 degrees. She and Villella dance with NYCB’s signature speed, whizzing through chaîné turns. They also have a dynamic partnering style, in which McBride delays her extensions slightly to give each lift a light, soaring feel.

It’s a treat to watch this pair dance together. Both were among NYCB’s leading dancers for decades and went on to have far-reaching influences on American ballet, with Villella as the founder of Miami City Ballet, and McBride, who won a Kennedy Center Honor in 2014, as Charlotte Ballet’s associate director, where she continues to teach today. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!