Thursday, November 18, 2010

A local treasure dies

Yvonne Patterson, who had a long career as a dancer, died last week at the age of 100. She lived in Flourtown, the heart of Springfield Sun country, and I had the privilege of interviewing her on the occasion of what turned out to be her final birthday, when her friends at the Springfield Township High School swimming pool threw her a modest party.

Yvonne was a very big deal, a breathing bit of cultural history in a small suburb that has little use for culture. She danced for Balanchine beginning in the 1930s, and — most exciting as far as I was concerned — she took part in the 1937 premiere of Stravinsky's ballet Jeu de Cartes, which the composer conducted. (The program, presented at the Metropolitan Opera House, also included Fairy's Kiss and Apollo.) I was eager to hear her recollections of Stravinsky, but after seventy years, she had none to give. She remembered being introduced to him briefly at a rehearsal, and that he was short and not very impressive. Then she suddenly stopped herself.

"Oh, don't write that," she said. "If you write that I won't talk to you."

So I didn't write it.


Lisa Hirsch said...

I interviewed Licia Albanese a few years ago about Dame Eva Turner, and same thing: she just didn't remember that much about singing with Turner in the late 1930s. Sigh.

Going Bygone said...

Who's taking care of Mitzi now?

Joe Barron said...

Good question. I'm afraid I don't know.