Coming to PBS’s American Masters and to VOD this Friday, June 20: AFTERNOON OF A FAUN: TANAQUIL LE CLERCQ
Nancy Buirski’s portrait of the tragic dancer debuted at last year’s New York Film Festival. It went on to screen at Berlin, Palm Springs, Full Frame, and Bermuda, among others. In conjunction with its broadcast debut, the doc is also expected to be released on iTunes.
In the early 1950s, ballerina Le Clercq, known familiarly as Tanny, captivated audiences – and the legendary George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins – until she was stricken with polio at the age of 26, never to dance again. Buirski’s haunting portrait captures not only the biographical and personal, but also a sense of a bygone era when the mainstream accepted – and appreciated – modern dance and ballet. While the film features numerous colleagues and confidantes of Le Clercq, invaluable in offering insight into her personality, relationships, and, critically, her ability to cope with tragedy, it is the footage of her dancing that is the heart of Buirski’s profile. Utilizing just enough of the latter to demonstrate the dancer’s artistry – and, in its age-worn softness, a sense of time long past – but not so much that it becomes inaccessible to non-dance fans, the film succeeds in conveying Le Clercq’s allure to new audiences.