Patricia McAndrew: LUAG Historian

Not only is our teaching collection a resource for learning, so is our staff. Take Patricia McAndrew. Here at LUAG McAndrew is our Coordinator of Volunteers and Education, but in the greater world she is known as one of the few remaining independent dance historians in America. Her greatest feat – the translation of Bournonville’s nearly 700-page memoir, My Theatre Life. For those of you not up on your dance history August Bournonville was a Danish ballet master and choreographer. He created an entire method of ballet technique and training called the Bournonville Method, which is still used today.

37cont638McAndrew was born and raised in Bethlehem by her father who was a physician and her mom who was a nurse. Her obsession with dance started when she was seven, when her mother took her to see Danny Kaye and the French dancer Jeanmaire in Hans Christian Andersen, a movie musical. McAndrew would go on to study ballet during her younger years, but with urging from her parents her education took first priority. At 18 she entered Moravian College.

Around the same time, the Royal Danish Ballet toured the United States and McAndrew was able to see Bournonville’s choreography in person. She was hooked. Her adviser at Moravian advised her to delve into the world of Bournonville by making him the focus in her Honors thesis.

Her thesis would become her obsession. She found a Danish speaking young man at Bethlehem Steel to use as a translator. She traveled to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, which owned a copy, in Danish, of Bournonville’s My Theatre Life on the weekends. She and her translator would poor over the words of Bournonville until the library closed.

The presentation of McAndrew’s thesis to Moravian faculty was so impressive that word got out to the Wesleyan University Press, and the idea came about that she should translate Bournonville’s memoirs. And this she did. It took ten years. It was published in 1979.

McAndrew continued to be around her great love, dance, by working as general manager of the Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley for 17 years. Her other great love, history, has led her to be an active scholar of the Civil War and Stephen Vincent Benét, poet and storyteller, and establish her own publishing enterprise, Moon Trail Books, which publishes book on the Civil War.

People are great resources, and I can guarantee Pat McAndrew can tell you many facts and stories that you can not find in any book.

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