Thursday, August 28, 2014

A balletomaine streaming "must": Nancy Buirski's doc re Tanaquil LeClercq AFTERNOON OF A FAUN

TrustMovies is no balletomaine, but he still would not have wanted to miss the recent documentary AFTERNOON OF A FAUN: TANAQUIL LE CLERCQ. Many of us older folk (maybe some younger, too) have heard Ms LeClercq's name bandied about in the dance world over the years, so it is good to now know just why that name, the rather amazing dancer/woman to whom it belonged, and her immense reputation remain so securely fixed in American ballet history. Part of the American Masters series via PBS, and one of the better of those films, the documentary received a critically-acclaimed theatrical release some time back and can now be streamed on Netflix, Amazon and elsewhere, or caught on DVD.

As written and directed by Nancy Buirski, the film grabs us from the outset, as we enter the world of ballet and George Balanchine (shown at bottom, left, with LeClercq), the name still most firmly associated with that art here in the USA. Jerome Robbins makes quite an appearance, as well, and as nasty and unpleasant a person as he is often said to have been, he comes across here as a man who was enchanted enough with Tanaquil to be able to actually be a genuine friend (with a little extra prodding now and then)..

There is a wealth of archival footage here (much of it less than hi-def, coming from the 1940s, 50s and 60s as it does), of ballet and New York City and even Europe and Scandinavia (reaching for international acclaim, American ballet traveled frequently back then).

We see and hear from those dancers still around today -- Arthur Mitchell and Jacques D'Amboise (below) -- plus old friends of Tanaquil. Together they (with the help of the filmmaker) weave a fine portrait of this dancer who captivated audiences worldwide until... something very bad happened.

What, how and why is brought to us with shock and sadness, yet the dancer's life went on for quite some time -- but without dance. It's a great tale, beautifully told and one that will bring you up close and personal with a woman who, until now, has been but a name and kind of distant legend for many of us.

Here's your chance to meet her about as intimately as one can imagine doing in a 91-minute film -- which, as I say, you can view now via Netflix streaming and elsewhere, and on DVD.

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