This much I know: Patricia Crosbie, Ballet mistress

Dance is a strange thing. Dancers are all perfectionists. We try to be better than we are.

Patricia Crosbie of Cork City Ballet.

We look in the mirror every day to find faults we know are there, that’s what’s always at the back of your mind. It’s not narcissism — it’s simply what makes a dancer work hard and perform to the best of their ability.

When I was young, I always knew emotionally, in my heart, that I’d be a performer but in my head it was not an option. As far as I was concerned, I was too shy and insecure.

I always loved dancing and started going to classes with Joan Denise Moriarty when I was five. I didn’t shine particularly.

My earliest memory is locking the door at home and putting on an old LP of classical music — back then I thought the only music you could dance to was classical — and I was in heaven. I was one of eight kids and it was during those times that I really found my passion for dancing. You have to really want to do this. We are trained to make it look easy and beautiful but when you pull back the layers, it is not easy at all. The training is relentless, every day, from nine until six. You could start with a warm up and two classes before lunch and then if you’re in a company, you will be rehearsing all day.

By age eleven I knew organised religion was not for me. I’d sit in mass and it didn’t mean anything to me.

I do believe in fate, or luck, or whatever you like to call it — certainly in being in the right place at the right time. I was in the Irish National Ballet for six years. Then I went off to London and got work here and there in different shows and started doing a lot more training in different forms such as jazz ballet.

Several years ago, I broke my ankle. That was one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face. I was living in a bedsit in London at the time and remember getting work in a gym and even thinking, I don’t want to dance anymore. That’s where I met my husband, Ray Davies from The Kinks.

Choreography is something that comes quite naturally to me. Ray has always been interested in the arts in general, not just in music, and he asked me to choreograph a piece he’d written.

If I’m not doing some form of exercise I feel groggy, I certainly walk every day and do yoga every other day. I don’t think of it as being disciplined, it’s just what I do — it’s in my body. And of course a sensible diet is important.

There is a sort of internal freedom to dance, that is what I love about it — it allows your soul to come out in a way.

I’ve lived in some very different places — London, New York and now I’m settled in Kinsale. I moved back here after my marriage had broken down.

I felt there would be lots of support and plenty of cousins for my daughter to grow up with. I’m really glad that I did, there is nothing like the peace and beauty of being here by the sea and by the river.

Although I do sometimes miss Manhattan — I’m due a blast of it again soon.

I used to be a terrible worrier but with age comes the realisation that there is no point in worrying.

My idea of misery is never being able to dance again. My biggest fear, well worry, is for my teenage daughter, that she will be happy, but I suppose all parents feel like that.

My perfect day would be hearing that Cork City Ballet has been given a grant that would enable me to work with the company full time, to continue doing what I’ve done all my life — creating and choreographing.

Patricia Crosbie is ballet mistress with Cork City Ballet — bigger, brighter and better after 21 years.


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