Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq

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I saw this charming film, “Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq”  at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The ballet was first choreographed and danced by Nijinsky to scandalous acclaim. Later, Jerome Robbins’ version at New York City Ballet paired Tanny and Jacques d’Amboise. Her dancing is so light and effortless, her legs the longest, her extensions the greatest. She is a beautiful creature in motion.

She was fifteen when she joined the School of American Ballet and later became the fifth Mrs. Balanchine. She came to epitomize the ideal Balanchine dancer. Jerome Robbins also was smitten, and she was accordingly his muse.Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 6.03.05 PM

But at twenty-seven her career ended. She contacted polio in Copenhagen, having neglected to take the vaccine, and remained paralyzed the rest of her life.

But to see her dance is ineffable. She is youth in all its glory, and her transcendent beauty can bring tears to your eyes. The film captures her greatest years as well as her later life and rechanneled creativity. When I knew her she was making crossword puzzles for the New York Times and working with Arthur Mitchell and the Harlem Ballet.

Jean Vanderbilt

One Response to “Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq”

  1. Jean, and all VDPers, this film, “Afternoon of a Faun,” starring Tanaquil Le Clercq, will be shown on PBS stations Friday, June 20, at 10pm.

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