Saturday, August 09, 2014

Tanaquil Leclerc

I just finished watching the documentary "Afternoon of a Faun" about Tanaquil Leclerq from PBS American Masters.  Riveting.  Tanaquil (Tanny) Leclerq was Balanchine's 4th wife, and a star dancer with the American Ballet theater, when she was stricken with polio in 1956 at the age of 27.  There are some incredible dance clips of her dancing with Jacques D'Amboise (a legend in his own right), and clips from ABT in the 50s. She was beautiful, sensuous dancer - intelligent, alluring.  The documentary is a fitting tribute, as well as a time capsule for the creation of some of Balanchine's work.

I had no idea of her story. I love documentaries.  She lived to almost 80, taught at Dance Theater of Harlem, and lived the rest of her life in a wheelchair once she adjusted to the loss of her legs.  It's quite a triumph from a strong, strong person. I am so glad there are photos and film of her dancing. Quite impressive. Ironically, Balanchine cast her in a ballet where she played polio before she contracted it. I won't spoil one of the most heartbreaking moments, but it's incredible how one small decision can effect our entire lives.


Elizabeth said...

I loved watching that clip -- I used to have a sort of obsession with ballet dancers, mainly the women, so this documentary looks interesting to me. Have you read the novel "Astonish Me?" It's actually quite good -- an interesting read about the ballet world.

Criticlasm said...

I haven't! I will now. I'm weirdly obsessed with ballet films, especially documentaries. I'm sure it's the mix of art, beauty, rigor, athleticism, determination, etc. Whatever it is, it can be electric.