By Paula Citron
21 November 2020
Choreographer, educator, writer, collaborator, producer, dancer – Patricia Beatty’s influence has touched generations of contemporary dance artists who work in every corner of this country. Inspired by American dance pioneer Martha Graham, Beatty became a pioneer of modern dance in Canada. She is credited as being among the first to introduce Graham technique to this country.
As a youngster, the overly energetic, Toronto-born Beatty was sent to Jean Macpherson’s creative dance classes for children, followed by ballet studies with Gladys Forrester and Gweneth Lloyd. As Beatty told me in a 1998 interview, she felt hemmed in by ballet’s autocratic system. Her liberation came when she attended Bennington College in Vermont whose liberal arts curriculum stressed creativity. Although she had never seen contemporary dance, Beatty enrolled in the dance program as a performance and choreography major under teacher William Bales. She also attended the summer programs at Connecticut College, where the New York modern dance luminaries gathered.
After graduation she studied at the José Limón School, but switched to the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, mentored by Bertram Ross and Helen McGehee. As she said, “I became enamoured with the modern dance principle of internal, organic movement. I changed from Limón to Graham technique because I needed to be more grounded than was possible with the lighter Limón style.”
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