Patricia Ruanne was born in Leeds, England, in 1945. She studied at the Royal Ballet School and entered the Royal Ballet in 1962. She was appointed principal in 1969. Much of her work was with the touring company. In 1973 she joined London Festival Ballet, where she could dance classic roles, such as Aurora in Nureyev's Sleeping Beauty. She created many leading roles, in including Hynd's The Sanguine Fan (1976).
She became ballet mistress of London Festival Ballet (1983-85) and then at the Paris Opera (1986-96). After some freelance work she was appointed acting director at La Scala (1999-2000).