I recently had the great pleasure of seeing Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq during its run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. I certainly knew of Le Clercq — a ballerina with New York City Ballet, George Balanchine’s muse, his fifth and last wife, who was stricken with polio at age 27 while on tour in Copenhagen in 1956 at the height of her career. She never danced or walked again. I had read Varley O’Connor’s 2012 novel, The Master’s Muse, about Le Clercq. But I had never seen her dance. This lovely film, directed by Nancy Buirski, is full of wonderful footage and photographs of Le Clercq, clearly one of the greatest ballet dancers of the twentieth-century. Gorgeous and beguiling, I really didn’t have a sense of her and her tremendous legacy until this film, and I am so glad that Buirski made it. And my particular screening was made even more special by the presence of the marvelous Arthur Mitchell, former NYCB principal dancer, founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and close friend of Le Clercq who spoke of her after the film. He turns 80 this year but appears so much younger, just brilliant.  

Take a look at the trailer here