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NYCB Vol. 8 No. 9 - Tarantella

Updated: Mar 30

Balanchine choreographed Tarantella in 1964 for Edward Villella and Patricia McBride.

“The dancers in Tarantella are also specific characters. Who is this guy? He’s a simple, open, sunny kind of person who knows his way around a dance floor. The hero of an Italian village, he’s joyful, and he’s got his girl, and they’re performing the national dance together for an assembled group and for their own pleasure. The style is in his blood, along with his passion for the girl.”

(left) Patricia McBride & Edward Villella. Photo by Martha Swope, 1964. NYPL

(right) Patricia McBride & Edward Villella. Photo by Erio Piccagliani, 1964.

Foundation Video Archive. Elizabeth Kendall interviews Patricia McBride in 2018 on Tarantella.


Tarantella marked the beginning of a long professional partnership between Patricia McBride and Edward Villella. Although they joined the company at the same time and had danced together a couple times before, including in Bizet, Tarantella was the first ballet choreographed for the two of them.

“I was especially happy to be dancing with Patti. She was the easiest dancer I have ever worked with. Rarely did anything faze her—she could dance anything, in any style. […] Dancing with McBride, I could practically anticipate by just a look what her next move was going to be. […] It was a lucky thing that we had a good rapport. The rapid-fire pace at which Balanchine was choreographing Tarantella didn’t leave any time for discussion.”

Edward Villella and Patricia McBride in Tarantella. Photos by Fred Fehl, 1964. Harry Ransom Center.

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