Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Kaye Mackinnon de Pacheco (ca.1910-ca.1985), H1978, J1931, graduated with a degree in English from Jackson College in 1931.Shortly after her graduation she launched a long and distinguished career in ballet, making her international debut with the Ballet Russe of Bronislava Nijinski in Paris.
MacKinnon was born in Boston, but began dancing as a child in Canada. Back in Massachusetts, she studied the art throughout prep school and her college years. At Tufts she pursued other interests as well. She was a member of the tennis team and the Weekly, served a stint as class vice-president, acted in plays and operettas, and competed in the Goddard Prize readings. MacKinnon was chosen by her peers to represent Tufts at Yale's 1930 Model League of Nations. She dabbled in hockey, baseball, and the glee and press clubs. Adept at her studies, she earned honors in three subjects and Phi Beta Kappa recognition. It is not surprising to find that her fellow classmates voted MacKinnon Most All-Around and Most Ambitious in the class.
She lived up to expectations in a novel way. Following her marriage to composer Luis Pacheco in France, the couple was forced to leave on the eve of the Second World War. Compelled by circumstance to cancel a promising contract with a noted Parisian theater, it seemed that the diminutive dancer's career was, at least for the moment, on hold. The woman who had once studied with Preobrajenska, Trefilova, and Wigman now headed to Peru, a land lacking in ballet opportunities and interest. Her new homeland was to become the site of her greatest triumphs. In Peru MacKinnon created the Ballet Peruana and the Escuela del Ballet Peruano. Both School and Ballet were recognized by the Peruvian government in 1952, and in 1960 MacKinnon was awarded a silver medal and diploma by the Municipality of Lima for "outstanding artistic and pedagogical achievement."
The creation of an official ballet school and company in a foreign country is not easy. To create one in a culture where ballet was only tenuously known, and where men regarded the art as a womanly occupation, was no small feat for MacKinnon. Yet, by 1960 MacKinnon was choosing from among thousands of candidates for entry into her school - men included. In 1978 Tufts awarded MacKinnon an honorary doctorate for her creation of the Ballet Peruana, an event so appreciated by her adopted country that the show "24 Hours" covered the ceremony from Lima. In the interview, Mrs. MacKinnon admitted that as a child she had, out of embarrassment, taken ballet classes in secret.
Kaye MacKinnon de Pacheco died in the mid-1980s, still a resident of her adopted Peru.
Sources: MS024/001 Box 145; DTP; JB; VF; CODB