Tanny

Tanaquil Le Clercq

195 posts in this topic

I posted a link to the Perry Ballet Collection photos in the video and photos forum, but I thought these gems should be shown here (downloadable too!) -

http://digital.lib.b...r/nosort/ad/asc

pherank, thanks once more for the lovely photos. The La Valse picture is stunning and haunting in a way.

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My favorites are the two very strange shots from Illuminations. I've never seen them before. They are so much better than the standard stage shots one sees in ballet books. For an example o the same episode, shot on stage, see 113 of Repertory in Review.

In the middle photo, LeClercq looks alarmingly like ... Alicia Alonso. speechless-smiley-003.gif Not the look one would expect from a character called "Sacred Love."

Love the Hayden , Magallanes shot. Strangely, Hayden (Profane Love) wears one pointe shoe with the other foot left bare. Sacred Love wears a PAIR of pointe shoes -- as one would expect from a proper classical choreographer. wink1.gif

From Rep. in Review:

LeClercq recalled the Being Beauteous adagio in which the ballerina is partnered in a number of precarious balances, lifts, and turns by four men, including a series of arabesque turns on pointe with a partner catching her by one arm. It was Balanchine who helped her most, technically, with this section. She found Ashton very detailed and helpful throughout.
`

Nancy Reynolds -- and Lincoln Kirstein -- write so much about Illuminations, which I've never seen.. I wish I could have made it to the 1967 revival, with Mimi Paul in LeClercq's role, Nina Fedorova danced it too.

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My favorites are the two very strange shots from Illuminations. I've never seen them before. They are so much better than the standard stage shots one sees in ballet books. For an example o the same episode, shot on stage, see 113 of Repertory in Review.

In the middle photo, LeClercq looks alarmingly like ... Alicia Alonso. speechless-smiley-003.gif Not the look one would expect from a character called "Sacred Love."

Love the Hayden , Magallanes shot. Strangely, Hayden (Profane Love) wears one pointe shoe with the other foot left bare. Sacred Love wears a PAIR of pointe shoes -- as one would expect from a proper classical choreographer. wink1.gif

From Rep. in Review:

LeClercq recalled the Being Beauteous adagio in which the ballerina is partnered in a number of precarious balances, lifts, and turns by four men, including a series of arabesque turns on pointe with a partner catching her by one arm. It was Balanchine who helped her most, technically, with this section. She found Ashton very detailed and helpful throughout.
`

Nancy Reynolds -- and Lincoln Kirstein -- write so much about Illuminations, which I've never seen.. I wish I could have made it to the 1967 revival, with Mimi Paul in LeClercq's role, Nina Fedorova danced it too.

Thanks for this information on Illuminations, Bart - I too am fascinated by these images. I wasn't familiar with this particular ballet, but love the crazy Ballet Russes/Modernist look of the costumes. The La Valse publicity shot is one of the better ones I've seen. There was a series of these done involving Tanny and Francisco Moncion, but I can't seem to find 'the whole ball of wax', and in high-resolution. I'd like to do an illustration or watercolor painting based on one of these La Valse images in the future.

Now that I've seen a number of signed photos, I know that officially, Tanny spelled her last name, "Le Clercq" (with a space). I think her family/relations have since dropped the space between the two words.

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Now that I've seen a number of signed photos, I know that officially, Tanny spelled her last name, "Le Clercq" (with a space). I think her family/relations have since dropped the space between the two words.

I'm glad to know that, pherank...I'd never seen an autographed photo of her before now, so I'm doubly grateful for your posts! :)

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Love the Hayden , Magallanes shot. Strangely, Hayden (Profane Love) wears one pointe shoe with the other foot left bare. Sacred Love wears a PAIR of pointe shoes -- as one would expect from a proper classical choreographer.

[Mostly a digression about Illuminations]

Profane Love – Melissa Hayden – got better notices than Tanaquil LeClercq's Sacred Love in the original reviews: "The astonishing Melissa Hayden fairly tears the scene to tatters with the passion of her performance of the evil genius" (NYT). "There are things about it I've never forgotten," says Irene Oppenheim in Threepenney Review, such as

Melissa Hayden, who dances with one toe shoe and one bare foot that has ever since epitomized for me that grating in Rimbaud’s poetry between bourgeois and bacchanal, between the dangers of propriety and dangers of abandon.

It's poor Rimbaud who gets the bad reviews – "the dirt and squalor of his life, the garbage can from which he picked his diamonds" (Clive Barnes 1967 revival), "the sordid and brutal elements of a singularly violent existence" (John Martin 1950). Perhaps this was to deflect from the gay subtext which seems pretty intense in the Perry / LeClercq photo.

According to Martin Duberman, Lincoln Kirstein commissioned Illuminations to give Ashton "new excitements," and he generally wanted Ashton to break free and take over Sadler's Wells from "Ninetter de Valore". New exitements included – according to Julie Kavanagh – a full frontal unclothed drawing of Nicolas Magallanes by Tchelitchew which Kirstein sent to Ashton as a possible love interest.

Illuminations seems to have been very successful and was regularly performed for over ten years. Anatole Chujoy wrote that it was one of the works that “justified the existence of New York City Ballet.” It was included in the 1968 edition of Balanchine's (& Mason's) Stories of the Great Ballets, then quietly disappeared from the 1977 update.

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Illuminations seems to have been very successful and was regularly performed for over ten years. Anatole Chujoy wrote that it was one of the works that “justified the existence of New York City Ballet.” It was included in the 1968 edition of Balanchine's (& Mason's) Stories of the Great Ballets, then quietly disappeared from the 1977 update.

Having 'grown up' on Rimbaud and Baudelaire poems, I'm definitely interested in seeing Illuminations. The question is, can any present day company do the work justice? It sounds to me like there's been a creative gap of 20 to 30 years with almost no performances (except by the Joffrey). Kind of hard to imagine anyone picking up the thread with the same level of creative energy, and all details in place.

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Having 'grown up' on Rimbaud and Baudelaire poems, I'm definitely interested in seeing Illuminations. The question is, can any present day company do the work justice? It sounds to me like there's been a creative gap of 20 to 30 years with almost no performances (except by the Joffrey). Kind of hard to imagine anyone picking up the thread with the same level of creative energy, and all details in place.

Denby says of Illuminations – and of Picnic at Tintagel

Each has sound workmanship and each has first-rate passages. I find the subject matter of each too magnificent to suit their official style scores, to suit either Ashton's own wonderfully intimate and ironic poetic eye. The more trivial the subject, the deeper and more beautiful is Ashton's poetic view of it.

What company could capture that tone or necessary clarity today? Could the Royal? Miami? The Dutch National Ballet? There's a characterization that Arlene Croce makes, and Irene Oppenheim quotes – perhaps it's a clue – about a particular skill of Ashton's: the equivalent of "a master draftsman whose pen never leaves the paper."

*

The Rimbaud line that is the basis of the ballet: "J'ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage / I alone hold the key to this savage parade."

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The Rimbaud line that is the basis of the ballet: "J'ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage / I alone hold the key to this savage parade."

And a great line it is. ;)

The ballet's visuals do fit well with that evocative statement.

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I think the Royal Ballet last danced Illuminations in 1994 or 1996. I think the cast at that time included Jonathan Cope and Darcey Bussell.

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f.y.i. undated, unidentified, signed publicity photo of Le Clercq as Sacred Love.

(i believe the "Mary" for whom Le Clercq signed her photo was a woman named Mary Allen about whom i know little.)

post-848-0-92284400-1358879629_thumb.jpg

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f.y.i. undated, unidentified, signed publicity photo of Le Clercq as Sacred Love.

(i believe the "Mary" for whom Le Clercq signed her photo was a woman named Mary Allen about whom i know little.)

Great find, RG. "Mary Ellen Moylan"? Ha! Perhaps not, but one of my favorite Tanny portraits (in her La Valse costume) has the same dedication written on it:

askyevvhtp13pt3v.jpg

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actually i'm fairly certain about this Mary Allen, i acquired a number of items from her estate over time and she was apparently a devoted ballet fan, responsible, if mem. serves for the hand-produced fanzine, TANNY, that was produced for a few 'issues' and of which i have one.

she was evidently close to a number of dancers a number of whom signed photos etc. for her.

i'm not sure if she was New Yorker or not...

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actually i'm fairly certain about this Mary Allen, i acquired a number of items from her estate over time and she was apparently a devoted ballet fan, responsible, if mem. serves for the hand-produced fanzine, TANNY, that was produced for a few 'issues' and of which i have one.

she was evidently close to a number of dancers a number of whom signed photos etc. for her.

i'm not sure if she was New Yorker or not...

I see - makes sense that some of these items were dispersed after an estate sale. It must have been a great collection. Publicity photos like the ones above used to be commonplace, but these days, it's next to impossible to find any such thing (unless in Russia). The digital age hasn't really helped out the fans in that respect - we may see lots of digital snapshots, but we don't have the rights to them, and most aren't of printable quality, if one happened to have access to a quality digital printer in the first place.

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makes sense that some of these items were dispersed after an estate sale. It must have been a great collection.

"makes sense" in that that's what usually happens, but unfortunate, to put it mildly; think of the experience a visitor to a public archive could have had seeing that collection intact!

But that "Sacred Love" picture takes me back: I saw a few performances of Illuminations at NYCB during my days in that audience, which began in earnest, to be sure, in 1973, 17 years after Le Clercq's tragic retirement, and I seem to recall the dancer in this role - its Sacred-white costume contrasting the darker colors of the costume for Profane Love, all quite elegant designs by Cecil Beaton - at one point lifted about shoulder high in a split and carried smoothly across to our left, as though in a coach. I imagine with her famous profile and the slightest raise of the head, Le Clercq might have brought just the right note of hauteur to this passage.

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It's poor Rimbaud who gets the bad reviews – "the dirt and squalor of his life, the garbage can from which he picked his diamonds" (Clive Barnes 1967 revival), "the sordid and brutal elements of a singularly violent existence" (John Martin 1950). Perhaps this was to deflect from the gay subtext which seems pretty intense in the Perry / LeClercq photo.

According to Antole Chujoy in The New York City Ballet, when NYCB visited London in 1950 Kirstein responded to an unsigned review in the Times by writing in part that

Your critic's unfavourable opinion of Mr. Frederick Ashton's ballet "Les Illuminations" in your issue of July 21 was, as far as I could judge, not shared by the audience, for the reception was enthusiastic Your critic is presumably aware of the mixed beauty and grossness in Rimbaud's life and work and it is regrettable that he could only recognize grossness on the stage
According to Martin Duberman, Lincoln Kirstein commissioned Illuminations to give Ashton "new excitements," and he generally wanted Ashton to break free and take over Sadler's Wells from "Ninetter de Valore". New exitements included – according to Julie Kavanagh – a full frontal unclothed drawing of Nicolas Magallanes by Tchelitchew which Kirstein sent to Ashton as a possible love interest

A quick search finds a number of head portraits in oil on canvas and in brush and gray wash on paper, and also a disturbing oil Phenomena in which Magallanes is identified as the nude, but not the nude Kavanaugh seems to be referring to.

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According to Antole Chujoy in The New York City Ballet, when NYCB visited London in 1950 Kirstein responded to an unsigned review in the Times by writing in part that ...

The New York Times consistently gave the Illuminations great reviews over its entire run – but always with the proviso that the original materials of Rimbaud's life were "violent, cruel, sordid," the poetry "of impenetrable obscurity," while the ballet transcended all that, being "of a rare and poetic beauty". The London Times, on the other hand, says the choreography itself was sordid.

From a New York Times report dated June 20, 1950 (KIrstein's unsigned one?):

The audience was especially interested to see how an American troupe would respond to the choreography of Ashton, who has help raise Sadler’s Wells Ballet to world eminence. The principal dancers Nicholas Magallanes, Tanaquil LeClercq and Melissa Hayden, as well as Ashton and Britten who conducted: Peter Pears, who sang the special tenor part, and Cecil Beaton, who designed the sets and costumes, all took ten curtain calls.

“Serenade” ... was less entusiastically received but Stravinsky’s “Firebird” ... with Maria Tallchief, Balanchine’s wife ... got thunderous applause.

The critic The London Times didn’t agree with the audience’s appraisal of “Illuminations.” He thought the ballet ... a “study of decadance, chic and nasty” that involved Ashton in “the most violent and contorted chronography [typo?] he has yet assayed.”

Of “Firebird,” he wrote, it is but a “poor emaciated creature” ...

So I wonder if the anti-Rimbaud comments in the New York Times are both to deflect from, and at same time obliquely condemn, the homoerotic subtexts as that the Perry photos demonstrate, as well does the scene of Rimbaud at a pissoir – which Clive Barnes in 1967 curiously says was done in "most tactfully and in the best possible taste." John Martin in 1950 characterizes the Rimbaud of the ballet as a

dark, turbulent, self-tortured, subcutaneously evil and unrelenting creature, for whom one felt, an almost protective warmth and sympathy.

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The audience was especially interested to see how an American troupe would respond to the choreography of Ashton, who has help raise Sadler’s Wells Ballet to world eminence. The principal dancers Nicholas Magallanes, Tanaquil LeClercq and Melissa Hayden, as well as Ashton and Britten who conducted: Peter Pears, who sang the special tenor part, and Cecil Beaton, who designed the sets and costumes, all took ten curtain calls.

John Martin in 1950 characterizes the Rimbaud of the ballet as a

dark, turbulent, self-tortured, subcutaneously evil and unrelenting creature, for whom one felt, an almost protective warmth and sympathy.

Only 10 curtain calls? It's a shame it all went over so poorly. ;)

Any ballet that can create characters of such depth ("dark, turbulent, self-tortured, subcutaneously evil and unrelenting creature, for whom one felt, an almost protective warmth and sympathy") is worth a trip to the theater.

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actually i'm fairly certain about this Mary Allen, i acquired a number of items from her estate over time and she was apparently a devoted ballet fan, responsible, if mem. serves for the hand-produced fanzine, TANNY, that was produced for a few 'issues' and of which i have one.

she was evidently close to a number of dancers a number of whom signed photos etc. for her.

i'm not sure if she was New Yorker or not...

RG, I just wanted to mention that I ran into these images of the letter and envelope that accompanied Tanny's La Valse publicity shot shown earlier in the thread:

Tanny1.jpg

Tanny2.jpg

Pretty interesting! Love the mention of Lee (Miller) Penrose, whose biography I recently read. From the website of Thomas Oboe Lee:

http://home.comcast.net/~thomas.o.lee/autographs.html

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Thanks Quiggin - it is interesting to hear from Tony Penrose, who grew up not particularly liking his eccentric, and mostly drunken mother, but later was able to learn something of the other facets of her life and personality. Supposedly, it was Miller's reportage of Dachau concentration camp that pushed her into chronic alcoholism and seemed to rob her of her creative instincts. That is the theory at any rate. It's not something she ever wrote about.

I do wonder how Tanny and Mary E. Allen came onto the subject of Lee Miller.

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Here's one of Lee Miller's recipes from the Times –

... in 1956 [she] took to running Farley Farm. She became a gourmet cook, specializing, as her housekeeper, Patsy, remembers, in “historical food” like roast suckling pig and Surrealist fare like marshmallows in Coca-Cola sauce, a concoction she made to annoy the snooty English critic Cyril Connolly, who had once rudely told her Americans could not cook.

But the war, and certainly her childhood rape and the loss of her extraordinary beauty, threw Miller into dark moods. She was, in many ways, tormented by her gleaming past.

http://www.nytimes.c...wanted=all&_r=0

That kind of odd cooking was chic in the 50s and 60, so it wasn't as if she had completely withdrawn. And her trauma – and what drew her to the surrealists – was probably way before Dachau, the horror of which she didn't shy away from.

"For Lee Miller, the kitchen was rather like the darkroom," Conekin said. "With serious cuisine, one prepares and sets up the plates, decorating them, garnishing them, in a way that could be seen as similar to styling and setting up a fashion photograph."

http://www.huffingto..._b_1394637.html

Yes and it would be interesting how much Tanny and Mary E. knew about her past.

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I think the Royal Ballet last danced Illuminations in 1994 or 1996. I think the cast at that time included Jonathan Cope and Darcey Bussell.

Adam Cooper danced the Poet too. My impression is that this was part of a series of Ashton revivals by the Royal.

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a revival of ILLUMINATIONS was said to be part of a recent NYCB anniversary season, i forget which, but it didn't get accomplished in the end.

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