Watch star ballerina “Tanny” (Tanaquil Le Clercq) in action in these five fantastic gifs showing off her technique and flair. All footage is from performances she gave with the New York City Ballet.
1. Spotting turns in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco.
When a dancer rotates her body in a turn, she’ll usually keep her head and focus in a fixed place, lagging behind the body’s rotation for as long as possible. This is called “spotting.” One of the benefits to spotting is that it prevents a spinning dancer from getting dizzy!
2. Falling with composure in George Balanchine’s Symphony in C.
Tanny’s cool composure while falling backwards in Symphony in C captivated Jerome Robbins and sealed his decision to join George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet. “Tanny Le Clercq made me cry when she fell backward and I thought, ‘oh boy, I want to work with the company,’” said Robbins.
3. Fancy footwork in Lew Christensen’s comic ballet, Con Amore.
Tanny executes quick footwork in the New York City Ballet’s appearance on the Red Skelton television show in 1954.
4. Strutting her stuff in George Balanchine’s Western Symphony.
Tanny flirtatiously struts her stuff en pointe (on pointe shoes) in George Balanchine’s Western Symphony, which she performed the last night she ever danced in 1956. The next morning she was hospitalized in an iron lung, paralyzed by polio.
5. Afternoon of a Faun: Jerome Robbin’s dedication to Tanaquil Le Clercq
Jerome Robbins created the romantic pas de deux (duet) on Tanny in 1953. Above, she partners with Jacques d’Amboise, who described the experience of dancing with Tanny this way: “How can you not love the ballerina you dance with? I mean there you are feeling the heft of her and the sweat of her and the taste of her and the dance with her in love pas de deux.”
See more of Tanaquil Le Clercq’s dancing in American Masters — Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun, premiering nationally Friday, June 20, 10-11:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings, New York metro area at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN).