Before Paloma Herrera, before Sara Mearns, before Natalia Osipova, even before Suzanne Farrell, there was Tanny. Tanaquil Le Clercq, known as “Tanny” to her friends, was a principal with New York City Ballet until she was stricken by polio during a tour to Denmark. At the time, she was one of NYCB’s stars; she was also George Balanchine’s wife (his fourth). And, most heartbreakingly, she was only 27 years old. Le Clercq would never walk or dance again.
Le Clercq’s extraordinary life is chronicled in the documentary Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun, which premiered on PBS a week ago. Check your local listings page to confirm the airdate on your local station. The film is now available on DVD and can be live-streamed via the PBS website. You can also view the trailer, excerpts and outtakes on the live-stream site.