Acclaimed Documentary of Prima Ballerina Tanaquill Le Clercq Telecast on PBS American Masters Friday
By: Ellis Nassour
Emmy and Peabody-winning filmmaker Nancy Buirski’s new and fascinating 90-minute dance documentary of the great prima ballerina and muse to George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun, premieres Friday, June 20, at 9 P.M. on PBS American Masters.
Ms. Le Clercq, a blithe spirit known as "Tanny," passed away at 71 in 2000. In her heyday she mesmerized viewers and choreographers alike as principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. She was muse to husband Balanchine and, in spite of their very rocky relationship, Robbins, whom she called her soulmate. Tanny’s exquisite dancing and graceful physique became the new prototype for Balanchine’s ballet dancers. Her career was cut short at age 27 and the height of her fame, when she was stricken with polio and paralyzed. Though she never danced again, her influence on the two ego-driven masters was monumental.
Afternoon of a Faun is an inspiring and haunting experience, filled with archival footage, photos, and a rare recording of her voice. There’re first-hand stories from NYC Ballet’s Jacques d’Amboise and Arthur Mitchell, as well as Randy Bourscheidt, former president of the Alliance for the Arts.
The DVD release is June 24 from Kino Lorber.