Honoring Ballerina Patricia McBride


When California Ballet’s full length The Nutcracker debuted in 1971 at the Russ Auditorium, the fledgling ballet company was honored to have New York City Ballet’s Patricia McBride step into the Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu for the debut holiday run. Partnered by Edward Villella, the star couple brought peerless technique and glamour to the California Ballet stage, their performance the crown of an amazing new The Nutcracker.

On December 7, 2014 Patricia McBride became a Kennedy Center Honors recipient. Ms. McBride is one of only a handful of artists who are able to claim such an honor, and we are humbled and grateful to be able to claim that her talent launched our The Nutcracker - now San Diego’s oldest and largest production. We’d like to pay tribute to this amazing ballerina.

Patricia McBride began her training at an early age, and by age 14 received a scholarship to George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet. Just three years later she would join the New York City Ballet Company. By age 18, Ms. McBride became the company’s youngest principal dancer, and would continue in that role for 28 years.


During her time at NYCB, Patricia McBride danced in 60 principal role, 30 if which were created specifically for her. She partnered with such amazing dancers as Jerome Robbins, Edward Villella, Mikhail Baryshnikov,  and Jean-Pierre Bonneforx (whom she would marry). She also danced for 5 American Presidents.

Upon receiving her Kennedy Center Honor last December, Ms. McBride said that, “It’s one of the greatest awards one can get. Ihave such respect for . . . the Kennedy Center Honors. To be an artist in America and to be honored for it is extraordinary.”

Congratulations Patricia! All of us here at California Ballet are excited for and proud of you.

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