Tanaquil Le ClercqQuery
Posted 22 March 2013 - 01:56 PM
Posted 18 April 2013 - 09:03 PM
Thanks very much for finding this clip. I always thought it interesting that the Robbins documentary has much more personal information, and talk about Tanny, than the Balanchine documentary for American Masters - that one's devoid of any personal relationship talk. Robbins felt Le Clercq was his muse (as she was for Balanchine obviously). It's too bad the last little bit about Tanny is missing from this clip.
Posted Yesterday, 04:41 PM
From Jacques d’Amboise, I Was A Dancer -
'She's too skinny!' the Boss [nickname for Jacques' mother Georgiana] would announce to Tanny's mother, Edith LeClercq. 'She should eat more!' Boss always had something to say to the cabal of ballet mothers. Presided over by Edith, they would sit and gossip in the hall outside the studios during their children's ballet classes, the Boss moving among them like a ferret.
It was from Edith that the Boss found out about the King-Coit School, an after-school program run by two little old ladies in a town house they owned together. They were prim Victorians, and created a place where kindergarten play and games were taken to a sophisticated performing-arts level. Tanny was enrolled, and I don't know how the Boss swung it, but she had Madeleine and me enrolled as well, on scholarships. The town house teemed with activity-plays, recitals, poetry readings, dramatic recitations, costume making, anything in the performing arts that tickled Miss King and Miss Coit’s fancy. Over the course of some six months, we performed in little vignettes, variety shows, all forgotten by me-with one exception. In that recital, I played a sailor dancing a hornpipe with two belles. The teenage Tanny was on the same program, but the star was a plump little girl, a pasty-faced dumpling with red pouty lips, who recited a poem. Her voice, strident and ear-scraping, would cut through an Alaskan oil slick taster than carbolic acid. That voice is so ingrained in the memories of King-Coit alumni that, fifty years later, I could pick up the phone, call Tanny, and, mimicking THE VOICE, screech, ‘Eat little hird and think no more of sorrow! ‘ and Tanny would immediately parrot the next line, ‘I'll feed you every day at this time!’ Then, amid laughter, she would quip, ‘Are you soliciting me for an invitation to dinner?’”
Posted Yesterday, 04:45 PM
The Balanchines included us in their family life. Routinely, Tanny would say, “Come over for dinner. We’ll play cards after." As it was the fifties, steak every night was the norm. Porterhouse, rare, served with Dijon mustard, a salad of romaine lettuce with a dressing of olive-oil, lemon, and garlic, and new potatoes roasted in their skin with butter, parsley, and rosemary. This was the usual menu Tanny chose and chef Balanchine served. Her wit, barbed and directed at everything and anyone (including herself), was unpredictable, yet veined with affection. Having decided on the dinner menu, she would announce, “Oh! This again?" Delivered with mock surprise and a hint of indignation. Dessert was never anything but ice cream. “I thought we'd have something new,” Tanny would declare. Mouton Rothschild was the wine--two bottles in the course of an evening. I was responsible for the downing of one. 'Have another glass,' Tanny would quip. 'Here, let me pour it for you.' Then, turning to Balanchine, she’d add, 'If he does, George, we're sure to win, even with you as my card partner.' After dinner, Balanchine would sit, patiently playing endless rounds of canasta. Sometimes, either from boredom or just to pique an outburst from Tanny, he would throw down a wrong card, dissolving her strategy.
During the next day's rehearsal, Tanny would pick up from the night before. She’d draw away from me, dramatically, as I partnered her. ’Do I detect a little purple staining the whites of your ballet shoes? Jacques, I can’t believe it! You’re sweating wine!’”*
* We loved to eat, Tanny and I; dancing kept us slim, so the sky's the limit on the cuisine. Tanny even did a cookbook where different ballet friends gave their favorite recipes. I gave her a stack and most of them ended up in her book. The number of mine she included is second only to Balanchine's.
--Jacques d’Amboise, I Was A Dancer
Posted Yesterday, 05:02 PM
"...Moncion I saw act too little to speak of any change. Hayden and Laing, formerly very fine in a tense and even overwrought style of acting, now seemed feeling their way toward a calmer and larger kind, such as Kaye and Robbins use. Together with the acting that Tallchief and Le Clercq show, it looks as if the NYC would welcome a simple and steady kind of acting whenever it begins to show.
Tallchief though weak in adagio, strikes me as the most audacious and the most correctly brilliant of allegro classicists. She can lift a ballet by an entrance, and she has flashes of a grand decision that are on ballerina scale. What I missed seeing was that expressive radiance which makes beautiful not only the ballerina herself; but the whole company with her, and the whole drab area of stage space and bright imaginary world of the ballet that visibly and invisibly surrounds her--a gently indomitable radiance that is a classical ballerina's job, and that several times in my life I have seen a dancer accomplish. Le Clercq has a heavenly radiance and a lovely adagio, but neither has been trained to spread indomitably. Her New York elegance of person, her intelligence in every movement, the delicacy of her rhythmic attack we all adore. Adams has a perfect action the best adagio, a ravishing figure, and a sweet manner that is our equivalent of your 'county.' Wilde has a beautiful Veronese grandeur and plasticity of shape in her dancing, a glorious jump; and Hayden has a Lautrec edge and vehement stab and a strange softness in her she seems to hate: a great actress, I would guess, if she learns calm. They are all in Caracole, each with a line as pure as a great ballerina’s, and as characteristic as a great horse’s in a horse show. And intent little Reed with the heart of gold--but individuals isn’t what this letter is about, as I said to begin with. I love them all."
Edwin Denby from a review of Roma -
"The strictness of classicism in Roma and the strictness of the musical setting of the steps show the nuance of dance impulse more clearly. Dancers classically trained find in classicism a theatrical spontaneity and transparency. The expression of their dance can look sincere. And their personal quality in classicism--unconsciously transparent--can become a view of what the stage character represented is like 'really.' So for intance Le Clercq’s delicacy of timing can give her characters a grace in courtesy, a quick awareness, that makes them exceptionally interesting.
Fonteyn--a quite different dancer--has a similar courtesy."
Posted Yesterday, 06:03 PM
"I have not reworked these articles. I am astonished that I ever thought Serenade would be better danced in a demi-caractere way. Astonished, too, that the thrill I remember so distinctly of Le Clercq’s climax in La Valse--throwing her head back as she plunges her hand into the black glove--is not mentioned here. Her solitary pacing that made the last minute of Opus 34 so marvelous is mentioned but without naming her."
"During the exquisite understatements of Balanchine’s ballet to Haieff’s Divertimento, I was thinking what a wonderful artist Tanaquil Le Clercq is turning out to be. The old accusation that American dancers are cold and inexpressive no longer holds good. Le Clercq, Hayden and Wilde all have personalities which ‘project’; and technically they are prodigious."
Edwin Denby, At the Champs-Elysees, Paris, 21-7-52
"Western Symphony is an extraordinary work. We expect ballets about the Wild West to have a lot of thigh-slapping and characteristic movements, and, of course, a story. This one, apart from some superficial local colour, is a typical Balanchine ballet, built up symphonically. The score, by Hershy Kay, is a web of familiar popular tunes, the set is a gold-rush town of wooden houses, the dancers are dressed as cowboys and spangled barroom vampires: otherwise Western Symphony is as classical as the Bizet Symphony in C. Melissa Hayden has a bounding, exulting solo: she is a more wonderful artist than ever, gloriously strong and expressive, with all the verve we associate with Russian dancers. Wearing an etherealized Mae West hat, Tanaquil Le Clercq makes a big entry in the last movement and does an amazing diagonal of turning jumps in her spiky spidery style. She is most effective, and so is her partner Jacques d’Amboise, who swings and bounds about, looking frightfully pleased with life, exuding athletic glamour. He is now a star personality, and I hope he can’t sing, otherwise the company will lose him to Broadway. Western Symphony has some of Balanchine’s favourite cavalry charges and counter-charges, and ends with everyone spinning joyously."
"Robbins’s new version of Debussy’s L’Apres-midi d'un fauna was the biggest hit of the season. He seemed to have struck on a new and yet right interpretation of the music, which is sultry and sensual, but dreamlike, as if unsatisfied desires fed the summer afternoon with beauty. The scene is a ballet classroom whose white transparent walls let in the blue sky. The audience is a mirror. Jacques d’Amboise lies sleeping on the floor. When he wakes up he does a few exercises and admires himself. Tanaquil Le Clercq comes in, high-stepping and aloof. They practice a pas de deux, and then subside, overcome by the heat. You watch a thought coming into the boy’s head. He kisses the girl chastely on the cheek. She is as surprised as if the barre had broken out in thorns and blossom. Holding her hand to her wound, she steps gingerly out of the room, leaving the boy to go back to sleep. Robbins’s idea is poetic and subtle, its realization impeccable. The two performers were as imposing as Babilée and Philippart in Le Jeune homme et la mort. I do not agree with French critics who thought the music misinterpreted. There are fauns everywhere, even in the British Museum Reading Room."
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