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Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq


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#16 Quiggin

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 07:33 PM

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.



#17 GNicholls

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 12:29 PM

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.



#18 pherank

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Posted 10 May 2014 - 04:51 PM

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!



#19 Jack Reed

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 12:36 PM

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



#20 pherank

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 07:32 PM

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.



#21 pherank

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 10:04 PM

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!



#22 MakarovaFan

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 05:24 AM

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



#23 kbarber

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 01:54 PM

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

#24 kbarber

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 02:03 PM

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.

#25 Bonnette

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 03:49 PM

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....s/#.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



#26 sandik

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 08:30 PM

Just so you know, the main PBS station in Seattle is KCTS (kcts.org, though their website is often as goofy as the PBS one) and they are showing this on Sunday 22 June at 3 pm (and repeating it Friday 27 June at 9:30 pm).

 

And their zip code is 98109.



#27 kbarber

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 11:13 PM

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....s/#.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

Just so you know, the main PBS station in Seattle is KCTS (kcts.org, though their website is often as goofy as the PBS one) and they are showing this on Sunday 22 June at 3 pm (and repeating it Friday 27 June at 9:30 pm).
 
And their zip code is 98109.


Thank you so much, both! This is very helpful.

#28 California

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Posted 18 June 2014 - 03:56 PM

PBS is showing an on-line sneak preview of the film Thursday, June 19 at 8:30 Eastern (the site says EST, but I'm guessing they meant EDT): 

 

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/tanaquil-le-clercq/online-sneak-peek-screening-with-the-film-director/3094/ 



#29 kbarber

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 04:33 AM

Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun is now streaming online, but not outside US: http://to.pbs.org/1jD2FH8

#30 canbelto

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 11:38 AM

I saw this on PBS the other night. Like everyone else, I really enjoyed the footage of LeClercq dancing, and had no idea how much of it existed! I enjoyed the reading of the letters between Robbins and LeClercq but thought it was odd that they didn't mention that a huge part of the reason why Tanny "chose" George was that Robbins was gay? It was like they ignored a big elephant in the room. In this day and age, why be so delicate about something that's been discussed many times in books and documentaries about Robbins? 




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