A Ballerina's Fairy Tale Closet
It’s rare that you get the chance to step into a true, storybook life. That’s why we considered it an honor when Patricia Barker, the retired principal dancer from the Pacific Northwest Ballet, invited us into her personal closet for a tour of her style and memories. We guessed that we would see an old shoe or two, perhaps a tiara, but we found so much more.
At first glance, Barker’s closet is nothing fancy. It is neat, and most everything is behind closed doors. Yet, once she begins to open those doors, Barker lets us in to an elite world most little girls (and sometimes boys) only dream about…into a world that makes adults marvel.
First, she leads us to the far corner, to a simple dresser showcasing several cherished photos and bits of her ballerina past. There is a photo of Barker at age 22, in the role of “Dream Clara” for the Nutcracker movie, filmed in the 80s. Nearby, she shows us a photo of her last performance in June 2007, Swan Lake, alongside the crowns of both black and white swans.
Barker narrates the stories behind her framed pictures with Oscar de la Renta, who wanted ballerinas at a perfume promotion, and with Michael Kors, who was in Seattle early in his career to help raise money for the eventual, new home of her ballet company. Upstaging both of those photos, the gold Tiffany bracelet given to her by the Seattle Tiffany store for her retirement last year. Barker had been eyeing it for 15 years. On days she was low, she explains, she would walk through the store and try on jewelry. “I would always come away happy and inspired,” she told us.
Fun Facts (whimsy about the celebrity)
• Tiffany closed the store for her retirement party and gave her a gold cuff bracelet
• Barker did a rather nude ad in Dance magazine and caused a scandal in the late 90s
• Ballerinas can go through 200 pairs of pointe shoes per season
• All pas de deux are done on the left foot, so ballerinas use more left shoes when they perform this type of ballet
• Barker befriended Michael Kors before he was “big”
Patricia has also been artistic advisor for the Slovak National Ballet.
Monday, May 27th