mussel

Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq

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The documentary opens 2/5 Wed. at Lincoln Center, there will be Q&A sessions with Jacques d'Amboise & Arthur Mitchell after the 6:45pm screenings on 2/5(JdA), 2/7(AM), 2/8(AM): http://www.filmlinc.com/films/on-sale/afternoon-of-a-faun-tanaquil-le-clercq-nancy-buirski

NY Times review: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/movies/th-unusualstory-of-tanaquil-le-clercq-artist-and-muse.html?ref=arts&_r=0

Interview with the director on WNYC: http://www.wnyc.org/story/nancybuirskisdocumentaryabout-dancer-tanaquil-le-clercq/

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I saw the movie this afternoon and loved it. I had no idea so much footage of her dancing existed. She was a totally intriguing dancer and woman. She had a radiant quality, urbane wit, and intelligence that was clearly projected in her photographs, dancing, letters and interviews. The letters to and from her and Jerome Robbins are fascinating. I urge everyone to see this movie if they can. Hopefully it will be available.

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I saw the movie this afternoon and loved it. I had no idea so much footage of her dancing existed. She was a totally intriguing dancer and woman. She had a radiant quality, urbane wit, and intelligence that was clearly projected in her photographs, dancing, letters and interviews. The letters to and from her and Jerome Robbins are fascinating. I urge everyone to see this movie if they can. Hopefully it will be available.

Thanks Vipa, I hope it does go into some kind of general release, or at least ends up on DVD quickly so those of us outside NYC can have a look. ;)

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In case anyone miss it or not available in your area, it will be broadcasted on PBS American Masters later this year.

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Saw the film today and enjoyed seeing the Le Clercq footage... Such a beautiful dancer. Seeing the iron lung brought home the terror, and there were aspects of the story I had not considered... such as the fear among the other dancers that they might have caught it, and living in Balanchine's world no longer able to participate.

The talk about the partnering in Agon left me a little unsure. Was that the first time Balanchine used that kind of manipulation? Is the tall girl in Rubies more of the same? It is interesting but do I buy it? Not sure... What do others think?

I thought I had heard something about Balanchine not wanting La Valse to be performed for a long time because of Le Clercq, but can find no mention of this and it seems Le Clercq coached McBride in a 1962 revival. The film brought up La Valse over & over but made no mention of this either, so I'm wondering if the rumor was baseless?

There was a close up of a pointe shoe worn with an elastic segment in the ribbon... Were dancers doing this already back in Le Clercq's day? I thought it was a more recent development.

It was lovely to walk past Lincoln Center plaza lit through the snowfall this evening and see only a single frozen strip across the stairs' digital readout... "Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil LeClercq"

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Here are screening dates for the next couple of months. I subscribed to the facebook page in the hope that they would alert me to upcoming screenings in Toronto, but they didn't (only found out by accident yesterday that it's screening here now!).

California

Laemmle Music Hall 3 Los Angeles CA April 18th 24th

Landmark La Jolla Village Cinemas La Jolla CA April 18th 24th

Hawaii

Honolulu Museum of Art Honolulu HI 04/20, 04/22, & 04/27 ONLY

Illinois

Northwestern University Evanston IL May 16th ONLY

Massachusetts

Coolidge Corner Theatre Brookline MA May 16th 22nd

New Mexico

Harwood Museum of Art Taos NM May 9th 10th

New York

Rivertown Film Society Nyack NY June 11th ONLY

Ontario

Bloor Cinema Toronto ON April 18th 24th

Texas

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Houston TX 05/24-26 & 5/30-6/1 ONLY

Washington

Landmark Varsity Theatre Seattle WA April 25th May 1st

The link to screenings page is here:

http://www.afternoonofafaun.com/screenings.html

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The talk about the partnering in Agon left me a little unsure. Was that the first time Balanchine used that kind of manipulation?

I can't remember the source off-hand, but I read that he was influenced by the physical therapy exercises she was getting for the polio and used some of that in Agon. Have others heard that?

I assume everybody knows that the DVD is available for pre-order on Amazon, with release on June 24:

http://www.amazon.com/Afternoon-Faun-Nancy-Buirski/dp/B00JAGF9Y2/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1398087525&sr=1-1&keywords=afternoon+of+a+faun+tanaquil+leclercq

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I can't remember the source off-hand, but I read that he was influenced by the physical therapy exercises she was getting for the polio and used some of that in Agon. Have others heard that?

Yes, but I can't remember where I read it, either! dunno.gif

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I found a source (there might be others, too): Arlene Croce's "Balanchine's Girls: The Making of a Style" (April 1971). It's reprinted in AfterImages, pp. 416-427. Here's the quote:

. . . tight phrases exploding like crystals in a confined space. Many people believe it derived from the hours of therapy Balanchine spent with his wife, LeClercq. . . (p. 418)

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I found a source (there might be others, too): Arlene Croce's "Balanchine's Girls: The Making of a Style" (April 1971). It's reprinted in AfterImages, pp. 416-427. Here's the quote:

. . . tight phrases exploding like crystals in a confined space. Many people believe it derived from the hours of therapy Balanchine spent with his wife, LeClercq. . . (p. 418)

In the film it's Arthur Mitchell who discusses it.

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I found a source (there might be others, too): Arlene Croce's "Balanchine's Girls: The Making of a Style" (April 1971). It's reprinted in AfterImages, pp. 416-427. Here's the quote:

. . . tight phrases exploding like crystals in a confined space. Many people believe it derived from the hours of therapy Balanchine spent with his wife, LeClercq. . . (p. 418)

Thank you, California, that is very helpful. I initially read about the Agon/therapy/choreography connection in either an online review of the film or interview with Nancy Buirski, but darned if I can find the source now!

From a different angle, there's a review of the film that refers to Balanchine creating movements for Tanny to use as part of her Pilates-based therapy. Consumed as he was by the desire to rehabilitate her, it would be surprising (to me, anyway) if that drive didn't find expression in specific choreography (as Croce suggests, above). Here's a link to the review: http://m.theepochtimes.com/n3/305291-afternoon-of-a-faun-movie-review/

Edited to add: I just saw sandik's post - good to know it's discussed in the film.

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Edited to add: I just saw sandik's post - good to know it's discussed in the film.

Actually, about two-thirds of the film is devoted to LeClercq's polio, and her life after retirement from the stage. I thought, watching it, that it was her polio rather than her dancing that really engaged the film-maker, who presents it as dramatically as she can; although there's more than enough quite marvelous dancing to be seen in the film to make buying the DVD worthwhile, too much of that has an interfering voice-over.

Don't get me wrong, the content of the voice-over often struck me as very good and sometimes wise (in the best sense), but when LeClercq is performing on screen, I want to get all I can of that. (The narration was better when it was adjacent to the dance footage, not over it.) But nevertheless, it was easy to see why both Balanchine and Robbins fell for her, in their different ways.

May I suggest using the box on this page rather than the Amazon link above? I don't know whether BA! gets a few pennies every time we use the box or only if we make a purchase, but it can't hurt, and it does add up.

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I'm so glad the DVD has a release date. Good suggestion about preordering it through the Amazon link here at BA!, Jack.

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I saw the film yesterday at the Opera Plaza in San Francisco, shown in a tiny screening room where it seems to be enjoying a long run.

I liked seeing it on the whole, saw lots of footage I would never have seen otherwise, and I think having it projected on a screen at some distance seems to make for a more engaging experience than watching it at home.

Tanaquil Le Clercq, however, was not the only person to have gotten polio, many children and young adults did in the fifties (including two friends of mine) – and, just as Kafka's art is not solely defined by the fact that he died so young from TB, Le Clercq's should not be so always so linked to the pathos of that fact. Illness is not the only means of accounting for a life.

I found the most effective parts of the film were just of Tanny dancing (in B&W especially) and the lovely films and photographs (the picture with her hair over her face) in the country at ease with friends. There could have be a lot more of that, without voice-over ...

Also the letter writing – and lack of it – between Le Clercq and Jerome Robbins was very moving and had a nice hypnotic back and forth to it, that's when you lost yourself in the film. I did have to fill in the blanks about Robbins' character, his fickleness and acts of bad faith, which were much more explicitly dealt with in the recent PBS biography.

And Barbara Horgan aside, I do object to the use of so many talking heads in documentaries. They're supposed to replace the "voice of god" invisible narrator of the old days, but they're just as bad. They're like troublesome docents in an art museum getting between you and the art – or it's as if all the busts of noble Greeks and Romans in the Metropolitan Museum begin talking out loud to you as you passed by, pleading their cases. Jacques d'Amboise's part could have been cut substantially (and reserved for another documentary). Whenever he'd appear, I felt the center of gravity of the film shifting from Le Clercq to him.

The real bombshell for me was the revelation by LeClercq's long time friend (not in any list of credits I can find) that in the end she really didn't care for any of Robbins' ballets (the friend said he hoped she never told him that) and that Le Clercq thought Balanchine's work was supreme.

A little more on the working relationship between Balanchine and Le Clercq would have nicely filled out the portrait.

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I agree with Quiggin's points. With such an emotional subject, I feel that the director lost control of the tone of the film. Intentionally or not, to me it opened the tear ducts, frankly -- perhaps that's because I worked as a volunteer for our local March of Dimes organization during the 90's and 00's, and learned a lot about the early years of the Salk vaccine which were very tense indeed.

The script didn't really present enough of Tanaquil Le Clerc as a dancer and artist for me -- it was about the person and her life story. As a non-ballet expert I could see some of her greatness in the wonderful archival footage, would have liked more depth on her as a ballerina.

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The documentary DVD is now available for pre-order on Amazon - release is June 24, 2014 (use the Amazon search link at the bottom of the page to support this forum). Search for "Afternoon of a Faun (2013)". And order "Balanchine in Montreal" Volume 2 for Tanny in Concerto Barocco!

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She's also listed in a May 13, 1954 "Scene from Coppelia", with Eglevsky, on Volume 3! (Not shipping yet, though.)

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She's also listed in a May 13, 1954 "Scene from Coppelia", with Eglevsky, on Volume 3! (Not shipping yet, though.)

Yes! I wasn't aware of that fact, thanks Jack.

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American Masters Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun premieres nationally Friday, June 20, 10-11:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings, New York metro area at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN).

Yeah!

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American Masters Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun premieres nationally Friday, June 20, 10-11:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings, New York metro area at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN).

Yeah!

At long last. Thanks for the update, pherank

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"nationally" never seems to include the PBS stations to which I have access...

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does anyone know of an easy way to find which PBS stations a certain program is airing on? I find the PBS website incredibly cumbersome, and it's especially difficult for us Canadians (many of whom watch PBS and whose donations PBS is most happy to accept) because, to find a station to check its listing you have to fill in a zip code. The stations we get in Toronto are: Buffalo, Boston, and Seattle. How am I supposed to know a Seattle zip code?

Why can't you just click on the name of the program and have the website spit out the list of stations it's airing on? grr.

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I, too, find the PBS website cumbersome and hard to negotiate. Here's a page that will take you to the zip codes of any state and city: http://www.50states.com/zipcodes/#.U3lFaMZtdL9

Large cities like Buffalo, Boston and Seattle have several zip codes, but my guess is that any of them would work for this purpose. Hope so, anyway! beg.gif

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