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Tanaquil Le ClercqQuery


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#106 pherank

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 11:54 AM

Robert Garis wrote in Following Balanchine: "...This time there was a new inflection [regarding Balanchine's choreography] because in Agon I saw for the first time something autobiographical in his choreography. This came fully clear to me only a year later, when the partnering in another new ballet, Episodes, reminded me forcibly of the partnering in the pas de deux in Agon. I was seeing a new kind of collaboration between men and women: an intensely careful, watchful, tender, and grave working together to achieve tense and perilous extensions and balances. From one point of view the Agon pas de deux was just another Balanchine revision of classical pas de deux, but to me it seemed to stem from and reflect, though not quite to imitate, his work with Le Clercq in physical therapy--not that the dance mimics the movements of physical therapy but that in both cases the man and woman seem required by some urgent necessity to move quietly, cautiously, with all the skill and courage they can muster, and in a mood of held-breath crisis.


I think that Garis' theory is quite plausible - Balanchine was as found of expressing mysterious moods and spiritual relationships as he was visualizing musical forms with human movement. It is believable that Balanchine would want to silently examine the 'metaphysics of polio'. But not to dwell on the constraints of the disease, and the negative emotions triggered by disease. And he was too clever an artist to get bogged down in the literal. Balanchine was always primarily interested in the transcendence of restraints - the spiritual aspects of any physical relationship. That might seem strange for a dancer/choreographer, but it adds the necessary dimensionality to his work that makes many of these ballets 'art', and not only steps, and forms.

#107 pherank

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 01:04 PM

From Richard Buckle: writing on the year 1968 at NYCB -

That same year, Balanchine and Kirstein helped Arthur Mitchell lay the foundation for his Dance Theatre of Harlem. A school was established on Morningside Avenue (it moved later to West 152nd Street)--Tanaquil Le Clercq became one of the teachers--and within three years the company opened its first season.

Tanaquil had developed a remarkable ability to manage by herself in her wheelchair, and with this increased independence she acquired a new group of young friends. She was, after all, only in her thirties. When Balanchine came home from work, he simply wanted to watch television. Apart from Westerns, he loved the detective series Ironside, Barnaby _/ones and Wonder Woman, and he considered The Muppet Show the greatest American invention since the refrigerator. This was rather a strain for his wife. He was also making himself conspicuous with Suzanne Farrell. Eventually Tanaquil and he agreed to separate, with a view to divorce, but some old friends believed that she never ceased to love him.

When they parted, an awful decision had to be made: Who would have Mourka? Balanchine ceded him to Tanaquil. That summer in Connecticut, Mourka disappeared. Tanaquil frantically telephoned Balanchine, who was in Saratoga. He at once drove the two hundred miles to Weston and remained there until he had found the cat.
[Mourka the 'dancing' cat was made famous by Le Clercq's book, "Mourka: The Autobiography of a Cat", and in photo essays showing Balanchine and Mourka 'in performance']


Richard Buckle writing on Balanchine's will -

Barbara [Horgan] made a list: two insurance policies; money in the bank; his share in Francis Mason’s book. Then there were the ballets.

Balanchine pondered for a few weeks, telephoned Sysol [Theodore, his lawyer] and saw him alone. He bequeathed his apartment on Sixty-seventh Street to Karin [von Aroldingen], his Southampton condominium to Barbara [Horgan] and the money in the bank to Tanaquil Le Clercq. He left his brother two gold watches Kirstein had given him.

After he had struck a great many ballets off the list because he considered them uninteresting or impossible to revive, there were about a hundred left.

He had already made presents of a few works. He had given all rights of Symphony in C to Betty Cage, A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Diana Adams, Meditation to Suzanne Farrell and Duo Concertant to Kay Mazzo. Now he bequeathed to Tanaquil Le Clercq the American rights of approximately eighty ballets, the remaining rights, media and foreign, to be divided between Karin and Barbara. All American and media rights to Concerto Barocco were to go to Lincoln Kirstein, for whose South American tour it had been made, as well as those of Orpheus, which Kirstein had asked Stravinsky to write. To Edward Bigelow he left the American and media rights of The Four Temperarnents and Ivesiana.

Patricia McBride was to receive world rights to Tarantella, the Ravel Pavane and the Scriabin Etude for Piano; Suzanne Farrell to Don Quixote and Tzigane; Rosemary Dunleavy to Le Tornbeau de Couperin, which she had remembered so well; Merrill Ashley to Ballo della Regina; Barbara Horgan to Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet; Karin von Aroldingen to Serenade, Liebeslieder Walzer, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Une Porte et un soupir, Vienna Waltzes and Kammermusilc No. 2.



#108 Helene

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 01:09 PM

Betty Cage gave the rights to "Symphony in C" to John Taras, surely as a lifetime trust, because the rights reverted after his death. Francia Russell said in a Q&A that Taras insisted that a single version of the ballet be used -- not the last one NYCB did during Balanchine's lifetime -- but that after he died, the ballet was no longer restricted to that version.

#109 pherank

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 01:25 PM

Betty Cage gave the rights to "Symphony in C" to John Taras, surely as a lifetime trust, because the rights reverted after his death. Francia Russell said in a Q&A that Taras insisted that a single version of the ballet be used -- not the last one NYCB did during Balanchine's lifetime -- but that after he died, the ballet was no longer restricted to that version.


Thanks for the additional information, Helene!

I wanted to mention that the Jacques d'Amboise autobiography, I Was A Dancer, contains details of the final days of Balanchine, and the funeral and reception, and Tanny figures into all of this, but there's a lot of text, and it is very emotional reading. (d'Amboise also works into the narrative the deaths of other acquaintances, and he clearly relates these various occurances together in his mind.) So it is a harrowing segment of the book. Not surprisingly, Le Clercq isn't at her best at the graveside. My advice is to READ THE BOOK, as it is definitely worthwhile for all the 'insider' information on life at NYCB during its golden era.

#110 Neryssa

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 02:41 PM


Betty Cage gave the rights to "Symphony in C" to John Taras, surely as a lifetime trust, because the rights reverted after his death. Francia Russell said in a Q&A that Taras insisted that a single version of the ballet be used -- not the last one NYCB did during Balanchine's lifetime -- but that after he died, the ballet was no longer restricted to that version.


Thanks for the additional information, Helene!

I wanted to mention that the Jacques d'Amboise autobiography, I Was A Dancer, contains details of the final days of Balanchine, and the funeral and reception, and Tanny figures into all of this, but there's a lot of text, and it is very emotional reading. (d'Amboise also works into the narrative the deaths of other acquaintances, and he clearly relates these various occurances together in his mind.) So it is a harrowing segment of the book. Not surprisingly, Le Clercq isn't at her best at the graveside. My advice is to READ THE BOOK, as it is definitely worthwhile for all the 'insider' information on life at NYCB during its golden era.

[size=3][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]I've read it and thought it quite worthwhile although I wonder if d'Amboise exaggerates the tone and manner of Le Clercq. She is depicted as rather cranky during Balanchine's illness and death but it is understandable. How did she bequeath the rights to Balanchine's ballets - anybody? I've read somewhere that she had several heirs. And what is happening with the Nancy Buirski & Ric Burns' documentary about her? IMDB says it is still in preproduction. Wow, it could be another year before it is released.[/font][/size]

#111 pherank

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 02:58 PM

[size=3][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]I've read it and thought it quite worthwhile although I wonder if d'Amboise exaggerates the tone and manner of Le Clercq. She is depicted as rather cranky during Balanchine's illness and death but it is understandable. How did she bequeath the rights to Balanchine's ballets - anybody? I've read somewhere that she had several heirs. And what is happening with the Nancy Buirski & Ric Burns' documentary about her? IMDB says it is still in preproduction. Wow, it could be another year before it is released.[/font][/size]


Different people react differently to intense sutuations, and Le Clercq was exasperated and furious over Balanchine's protracted, awful illness and death (as depicted by d'Amboise). I have to think that she still felt bound to Balanchine's fate. She barely survived her own polio onset, and was spending every moment of every day crippled, in a wheelchair. Balanchine's demise must have struck her as too unfair - in a sense she was still living through him as he continued to create for the ballet, and she had to struggle to relearn how to do everything for herself, or manipulate others to help her with those things she simply couldn't do. Jacques d'Amboise relates how she orders him about when she leaves the burial ceremony, but the important thing to notice is that Le Clercq often calls upon d'Amboise for help, and they are often together at events (literally side-by-side), not because he was her flunky, or a stooge, but because they were 'family', and had been so for years.

#112 Neryssa

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 08:24 PM

[size=3][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]


I've read it and thought it quite worthwhile although I wonder if d'Amboise exaggerates the tone and manner of Le Clercq. She is depicted as rather cranky during Balanchine's illness and death but it is understandable. How did she bequeath the rights to Balanchine's ballets - anybody? I've read somewhere that she had several heirs. And what is happening with the Nancy Buirski & Ric Burns' documentary about her? IMDB says it is still in preproduction. Wow, it could be another year before it is released.


Different people react differently to intense sutuations, and Le Clercq was exasperated and furious over Balanchine's protracted, awful illness and death (as depicted by d'Amboise). I have to think that she still felt bound to Balanchine's fate. She barely survived her own polio onset, and was spending every moment of every day crippled, in a wheelchair. Balanchine's demise must have struck her as too unfair - in a sense she was still living through him as he continued to create for the ballet, and she had to struggle to relearn how to do everything for herself, or manipulate others to help her with those things she simply couldn't do. Jacques d'Amboise relates how she orders him about when she leaves the burial ceremony, but the important thing to notice is that Le Clercq often calls upon d'Amboise for help, and they are often together at events (literally side-by-side), not because he was her flunky, or a stooge, but because they were 'family', and had been so for years.

[/font][/size]
[size=3][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]I re-read the chapters on Balanchine's illness and death this evening. They are so emotionally raw and descriptive. d'Amboise also did a good job regarding the chapter on Balanchine's Muses - giving everybody credit and noting each one's unique style and gifts - and not just focusing on Farrell... I was pleased that d'Amboise gives Diana Adams her due as a great muse. And quoting Balanchine on Darci Kistler: "Nobody should touch her - one could ruin what she has." So very true and poignant.[/font][/size]

#113 pherank

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 02:39 PM

On the last page of Jacques d'Amboise's book he mentions Le Clercq one last time:

I don’t know if anyone reading these memoirs will be disappointed that there was no revelation of drugs and childhood abuse. I’ve always been happy. In Staten Island, I escaped untouched by the man in the shadows of the barn, I survived the streetcar, never was sued by the city of Hamburg, and didn’t get polio when poor Tanny did. I hugged her that night in Cologne in 1956, and flew home to my bed in New York; she flew to Copenhagen, to recline in an iron lung. Dear Tanny, bravery and humor sat with you in your wheelchair for almost fifty years. Fate could have had me sitting in its mate, but I can still walk. The Cuban missile crisis did not escalate into war, so I never had to do pliés in a Siberian gulag; and Carrie and I weren’t at the Bishops’ the night of the slaughter.



#114 dirac

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:18 PM

and as Balanchine said himself, Farrell became his favorite because, "Suzanne didn't resist".


As I remember the context of the quote is that Adams spoke to Balanchine marveling at Farrell's extraordinary range and that was Balanchine's response. Certainly that was one of the reasons why he found her fascinating.

#115 Neryssa

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 01:41 PM

[size=3][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]The facebook page for the film Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun just posted: "We're delighted to announce that our film is officially part of the acclaimed American Masters | PBS series. We will keep you posted on its upcoming air date as well as festival screenings and other events" [/font][/size]Posted Image








#116 pherank

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 01:48 PM

[size=3][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]The facebook page for the film Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun just posted: "We're delighted to announce that our film is officially part of the acclaimed American Masters | PBS series. We will keep you posted on its upcoming air date as well as festival screenings and other events" [/font][/size]Posted Image


That IS good news, and I'll wager it has something to do with Ric Burns being onboard - the Burns brothers know all the powers that be, and how to get projects made.

#117 pherank

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 04:29 PM

Maria Tallchief talking about Le Clercq in the Balanchine documentary:


#118 pherank

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 04:43 PM

Tanny Le Clercq and the Ballet Cookbook - recipes currently being tested by Ryan Wenzel and friends:
http://rpwenzel.com/...quil-le-clercq/

And, there's video!


#119 Helene

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 05:32 PM

The facebook page for the film Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun just posted: "We're delighted to announce that our film is officially part of the acclaimed American Masters | PBS series. We will keep you posted on its upcoming air date as well as festival screenings and other events" Posted Image







Fantastic news!

#120 pherank

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 10:28 PM

I don't believe anyone in this thread has linked to this truly wonderful article, "Muse, Interrupted", but I think it deserves to be joined to this discussion:

 

http://www.nytimes.c...nterrupted.html

By Holly Brubach
Published: November 22, 1998

 

"When the New York City Ballet commemorates its 50th anniversary with a tribute to Le Clercq this Tuesday, opening night of its fall season, the audience will be transported back to those early years, with the same program that the company performed at its debut: ''Concerto Barocco''; ''Symphony in C,'' in which Le Clercq -- then 19 -- danced the breathtaking adagio; and ''Orpheus,'' in which she led the Bacchantes. It was an exhilarating time. Balanchine's longstanding dream -- of creating a company that would dance in a new style and serve as his instrument -- was at last becoming a reality: his fledgling New York City Ballet was installed at the City Center, and the first generation of students at his School of American Ballet, established 14 years before, had come of age.

Among them was Le Clercq, whom, in restrospect, we can now identify as the prototype for that exquisite thoroughbred the Balanchine dancer. Her elegant lyricism and her physique, attenuated and strong, set the precedent for a series of roles that occupy center stage in Balanchine's vast repertory. The line of succession, from Le Clercq through Allegra Kent and Suzanne Farrell to Darci Kistler, is direct.

 

...She has reached the age of 69 with her pride and her beauty intact. Even seated, she has the unmistakable posture of a dancer. Her hair is blond now, her skin still pale. Her vivacious intelligence and the sharpness of her wit animate the conversation. I write this not only as a journalist but also as a friend of some 17 years. And so it is with a sense of relief and delight that I have witnessed her obligation to ballet history win out, however briefly, over her longstanding insistence on her privacy. ''And then I'll lapse back into obscurity,'' she says dryly."




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