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Before I saw the movie today, I knew nothing of Cate Blanchett's role, so it was a great surprise to see that her character was a ballet dancer who studied at SAB and danced for Balanchine. This is from Reuters UK:

More difficult than creating a convincing older character on screen, Blanchett said, were the dance combinations she was required to learn and perform for the film.

Her own formal instruction in ballet ended in childhood, but Blanchett said she later studied movement in drama school.

For "Benjamin Button," Blanchett worked extensively with a choreographer and performed all her own dance scenes, though a stand-in was used for a couple of shots, including a sequence of really quick turns, she said.

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I saw this movie over the weekend. I thought it was very touching, the special effects were fantastic and the acting was excellent. There is a reference by Cate Blanchett in the film in which she refers to a ballet in which Balanchine added a dancer's fall into the choreography. She never states the name of the ballet, but she is alluding to Serenade. There is also an excerpt of the Ballet from Carousel in the movie. The movie is 2 hours, 40 min, perhaps a bit too long. However, it is well worth your time, in my opinion.

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Has anybody read the following article about "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?" I only want to see this film because I cannot believe that Cate Blanchett could resemble Tanaquil Le Clercq - although I like Blanchett as an actress. Tilda Swinton strikes me as a would be dancer.

http://www.wildaboutmovies.com/behind_the_...NDTHESCENES.php

By contrast, Daisy would always be dressed in the upcoming fashions and form-fitting ballerina clothes of the era. For Daisy, West referenced pioneering dance choreographer George Balanchine and his wife and muse, Tanaquil LeClercq - an inspiration Blanchett herself had explored. "I looked at dance movements that were influential in Daisy's youth," Blanchett explains. "George Balanchine and Tanaquil LeClercq were of particular interest to me."

Blanchett, says West, "became a ballerina in the fittings. She reminded me so much of pictures I'd seen of LeClercq - the body language, the mannerisms and the internal conflict."

LeClercq favored the designs of Claire McCardell, one of America's top designers in the 1940s and 1950s, who is credited as the originator of "The American Look." West turned to McCardell for one of Daisy's most memorable costumes - the flowing red dress she wears on her date with Benjamin. "Jackie was definitely my partner in crime," says Blanchett. "I adored every stitch, every button. She introduced me to Claire McCardell and the costume fittings were a revelation. How blessed was I."

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Thanks, Neryssa, I hadn't read this article and it's most interesting. I would say that both Blanchett and Swinton are a little too big and a little too tall to be truly convincing ballet dancers, but that may not mean much to a general audience, especially as Blanchett seems to do very little dancing. (I'm not sure how West could have figured out Le Clercq's 'internal conflicts' by looking at pictures, but let it pass.) Blanchett doesn't remind me of Le Clercq at all, but I can see how she could derive inspiration and ideas for her role from her.

I did not know that Le Clercq was partial to the designs of Claire McCardell, but that makes perfect sense. McCardell's clothes had a natural and very American elegance, without pretensions, and were designed for comfort and ease of movement. Le Clercq would have looked beautiful in them.

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I still wish that when filmmakers do a Fitzgerald story, they wouldn't cherry-pick from other parts of Fitzgerald's work (or life) to interpolate into the movie at hand. "Daisy" has somehow lost her way on the rebound from Jay Gatsby into this one, and Zelda's dansomania has been imposed on Blanchett's character.

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I'm not sure I'd call Mrs. Fitzgerald a 'dansomaniac.' She wasn't well, to be sure, but her dance studies were quite serious and had she persisted there were genuine professional opportunities available to her, according to her teacher. Her doctors may have been mistaken in stomping on her artistic aspirations, which is pretty much what they did. Very sad story.

The original story isn't exactly a deathless masterpiece, so to use it as a taking off point and adding this or that isn't necessarily a bad thing, if the end product is a good one. (I haven't seen it yet and so can't say.) I can see why they didn't want to call their female lead 'Hildegarde' in any case. :)

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Thank you for posting, Figurante. In what way was Balanchine misrepresented, BTW?

You know what bothers me is the lack of research. Tanaquil Le Clercq died in 2000 and already there are inaccuracies being printed about her life. For example, the following online article.

http://www.moviecitynews.com/voices/2009/0..._daisymuse.html

**Contains spoilers about "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"

- Mark Wheaton

January 2, 2008

Mark Wheaton is a screenwriter. His most recent credit can be found on the forthcoming Friday the 13th.

Tanaquil Le Clercq was born in Paris in October of 1929 to a French father and American mother, who moved with their daughter to New York three years later. Though her mother wanted her to become a musician, Tanny had an early affinity for the ballet, and began her training at seven with a former partner to the great Anna Pavlova, going on to audition for the School of American Ballet when she was twelve . Though she was very small -- described by Balanchine -- as if you were looking at her through the wrong end of a telescope” –

Balanchine did not mean it that way.

"[blanchett] reminded me so much of pictures I'd seen of LeClercq," West says. "The body language, the mannerisms and the internal conflict."

HOW?

Robbins, too, was devastated back in New York and immediately began sending telegrams and letters to Tanny's bedside in Copenhagen (as well as a large stuffed dog Tanny dubbed "Morgan"). Tanny, however, did not want to be seen after her accident and became increasingly reclusive. Balanchine moved her to their cottage in Weston, Connecticut full-time and helped her adjust to her new life, but soon got busy again with the NYCB in New York -- coming home only on weekends. Tanny stayed put in her wheelchair with only her cat, Mourka, by her side.

What?

With Tanny unable to dance, Balanchine began to seek a new muse, leading to him neglecting Tanny. This all led up to an evening in 1969, when Balanchine announced -- via a telegram sent from Mexico - that he was in the process of securing a divorce (the one to win the hand of Farrell). Tanny was devastated. Balanchine was the first and only love of her life.

Wasn't the relationship really over in 1965/66?

In the case of Tanaquil Le Clercq, Robbins had always been a part of Tanny’s life, but after the divorce from Balanchine, his presence increased. It was through Robbins that a former dance partner of Tanny's -- Arthur Mitchell -- approached Le Clercq about coming to the dance school he had started, the Dance Theater of Harlem, to teach. Tanny agreed and soon returned to New York where her love of dance was reinvigorated

She never left NY.

She ended up teaching at the school for many years, all from her wheelchair. Ironically, a number of her students later went on to dance for Balanchine at NYCB. Attendant to her return to New York, Balanchine and Tanny became friendly again at the end of his life, so much so that Balanchine left her the stewardship of the rights to much of his choreography when he died.

They reconciled long before that time] (he died in 1983).

----

I am pleased to see Le Clercq receive some overdue press but not in relation to this film.

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Thank you for the link, Neryssa. The article is far from perfect, to say the least, but it is sympathetic and well intentioned. It may be that curiosity about this movie will lead to some people learning about Le Clercq and her career for the first time. That would certainly be a good thing.

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I was thrilled to hear LeClerq's voice in Virginia Brooks' film "Felia Doubrovska Remembered." Sadly, unlike Kent, Tallchief, Calegari, and Taras, she wasn't interviewed on camera -- I would have loved to have seen her facial expressions and gestures -- but her comments are background to photos. (The film would have been worth just the short excerpt of Doubrovska at the barre, demonstrating developpe to second, and then port de bras back from tendu front.)

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Hi, sidwich. Good to hear from you. Robbins did co-direct, didn't he, so Wheaton wasn't completely off base. An honest mistake. Clearly, however, he didn't spend a lot of time fact checking his article. :thumbsup:

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The film would have been worth just the short excerpt of Doubrovska at the barre, demonstrating developpe to second, and then port de bras back from tendu front.)

And the nicely long odd scene with Doubrovska and Danivola trying to recreate Pavillon d'Armide of Fokine, each with a competing memory.

And LeClerq's voice was rather surprising, didn't you think, Helene? Very American and slightly smokey and direct.

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I haven't seen the Doubrovska movie - thanks for bringing it up, Helene. But Le Clercq gave a wonderful interview to Barbara Newman for "Striking a Balance" and although of course you can't hear her speak she does sound very "American, smokey, and direct" even on the page. She's straightforward and practical, totally without pretension (and far too modest - to hear her talk, she couldn't do anything).

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Hi, sidwich. Good to hear from you. Robbins did co-direct, didn't he, so Wheaton wasn't completely off base.

No, Robbins did co-direct, so he's not entirely off-base. I just laugh because it's Musical Theatre 101 to use the choreography in "Pajama Game" as an example of early Fosse, the real beginnings of the "Fosse style." (That and the fact that "Steam Heat" seems to be dragged out and dusted off for every event honoring Fosse, "Evening of Fosse, " "Remembering Fosse," etc. anywhere).

The Robbins name isn't usually associated with "Pajama Game" like it is with "West Side Story," "On the Town," "Peter Pan" or "Fiddler on the Roof" or even less-known works like "Bells are Ringing."

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