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Royal Danish Ballet Honors Moravian Alum
Patricia McAndrew ’68 Translated Bournonville Memoirs
Bethlehem, Pa., August 2, 2005—Patricia N. McAndrew, who normally works in an office at Lehigh University, is spending this week in Copenhagen, Denmark, as guest of the Royal Danish Ballet.
McAndrew, who graduated from Moravian College in 1968, expanded her senior Honors project on the Danish choreographer August Bournonville (1805-79) into an English translation of his memoirs, My Theater Life. She was able to study and work in Denmark with the aid of a Fulbright fellowship. More recently, she has translated the letters of Bournonville to his daughter.
The Royal Danish Ballet, which Bournonville directed from 1830 to 1877, invited McAndrew to attend a symposium on Bournonville’s work that is being held the first week in August.
August Bournonville is one of the most revered names in ballet history. He was trained by his father, the great dancer Antoine Bournonville, and then went to Paris to train with Auguste Vestris. While a soloist with the Paris Opéra Ballet, he also choreographed and trained dancers. (His most famous student was Lucille Grahn.) He created more than 50 ballets, mostly for the Royal Danish, but also for the Paris Opéra and theaters in Stockholm, Vienna, and Moscow. He also staged operas.
Many of his works have been passed down from generation to generation in the Royal Danish Ballet and are still in the active repertory of the world’s ballet companies today. Among these are “Napoli,” “Far From Denmark,” “The Kermesse in Bruges” and “The Conservatory.”
Bournonville’s style emphasized clean, accurate footwork rather than bravura leaps and turns, and it became apparent over time that this “grounded” approach to dancing made bravura work less risky for the dancers.
Though ballet took its first steps in the court of Louis XIV of France, who was a gifted dancer, the art form quickly shifted to one in which men did little more than support women dancers and help them hold their balance. Bournonville, who came a century after the French dancing-masters, placed the training and athleticism of men on an equal footing with those of women. The Royal Danish Ballet is still known as a training ground for male dancers, as well as a repository of Bournonville’s choreography.
McAndrew works at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, as a coordinator of volunteers for the campus art galleries. She is also an adjunct curator. With an interest in the history of the Civil War and other 19th-century American conflicts, she has curated an exhibit about the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine, which started the Spanish-American War of 1898, and edited a book about Frank Wilkeson, a Civil War soldier and explorer of the Pacific Northwest. She is also a free-lance editor and publisher for historical groups such as the Stephen Vincent Benét Society. Recently she founded her own company, Moon Trail Books.