American Masters: Tanaquil Le Clereq

About This Episode


Of all the great ballerinas, Tanaquil Le Clercq was surely among the most transcendent. With a body unlike any before hers, she mesmerized viewers and choreographers alike as principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, and became a muse to both her husband George Balanchine and friend Jerome Robbins. Then, at age 27 and the height of her fame, Le Clercq was paralyzed by polio; she never danced again.

To illustrate Tanaquil’s personality, exquisite dancing and long, racehorse physique, which became the new prototype for Balanchine’s ballet dancers, the film uses photos, home movies and kinescopes, including a rare recording of her voice. American Masters - Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun also features interviews with those who knew her, including fellow New York City Ballet dancers Jacques d’Amboise and Arthur Mitchell and friends Randy Bourscheidt, Barbara Horgan, and Pat McBride Lousada. These first-hand stories combined with evocative music and archival footage reveal how one woman influenced an entire art form and sparked the creative imagination and adoration of two of its most prolific, renowned creators.