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Soufflés fall and so do dancers, and both survive: The main thing is to forget it. Time heals all wounds, this happens to be true. -- Tanaquil Le Clercq
"When Le Clercq was 15 and one of the brightest lights at Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, she danced the role of a girl with polio in his “Resurgence,” commissioned for a March of Dimes benefit. Wearing a black cape, #Balanchine himself played the Threat of Polio. Many years later, he worried that somehow he had brought on the disease.
Le Clercq became ill during the 1956 European tour of New York City Ballet, Balanchine’s company. Although most of the dancers had been given the polio vaccine before the trip, Le Clercq decided at the last minute to wait. She collapsed while in Copenhagen, was confined to an iron lung and spent several months in a Danish hospital. She never walked or danced again. Balanchine did everything in his power to help restore her agility, to no avail.
When Le Clercq, known as Tanny, became the latest in a string of Balanchine’s muses, she established what became the prototypical Balanchine prima ballerina: phenomenally long-legged, gracefully athletic, passionately committed." Excepted from a 2014 New York Times piece written by Stephen Holden.
Le Clercq went on to write two books, including a now out of print cookbook, which offered an unusual look into the private lives of dancers. Released in 1967, The Ballet Cookbook featured chapters by America’s first prima ballerina and Balanchine’s third wife #MariaTallchief, British choreographer #SirFrederickAshton, confidante and choreographer #JeromeRobbins, Russian superstar #RudolfNureyev, and over 50 other luminaries. Le Clercq also taught at Dance Theater of Harlem, and and as one student recalled, "used her hands and arms as legs and feet."
#FranciscoMoncion and #TanquilLeClercq perform in #JeromeRobbins ballet, “Afternoon of a Faun,” in 1953.
Photo: Augusta Films.