The Inspiring Life Story of Ballerina Tanaquil "Tanny" LeClercq on American Masters.

Aug 28, 2014

American Masters - Tanaquil LeClercq: Afternoon of a Faun (9:00 pm)

Tanaquil Le Clercq in Afternoon of a Faun.
Credit New York City Ballet Archives

She was a dancer of uncommon style and beauty, full of candor, passion and humor, the love object of arguably the two leading 20th century choreographers working in America - the muse to both George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Balanchine married her and Robbins created his famous version of “Afternoon of a Faun” for her. She also inspired the great ballets “Western Symphony,” “LaValse” and “Metamorphosis.” Recognized as uniquely gifted - her vivacity, her unbelievably long legs, her sinuous figure, her theatricality and spirit - she was a ballerina of rare versatility. No one was thought to have a brighter future until it suddenly stopped. On a tour of Europe in 1956, Tanny was struck down by polio at age 27. In an iron lung with a dire prognosis, she never danced again. Balanchine devoted himself to her recuperation and, eventually, her personal tragedy became another kind of artistic triumph - paralyzed from the waist down and wheelchair ridden, her story is ultimately one of great courage and fortitude.