Afternoon of a Faun

courtesy of

courtesy of

A new documentary film by Nancy Buirski Afternoon of a Faun:  Tanaquil Le Clercq recently had a week long run in San Francisco and tells the story of a brilliant American ballerina whose performing career was tragically ended after contracting polio. A principal dancer and muse for George Balanchine of the New York City Ballet, I think this review by Stephen Holden from the New York Times describes best Tanaquil’s all too short dancing life:

“As you watch grainy kinescope footage of dancers in a mirrored studio executing a pas de deux in the documentary biography “Afternoon of a Faun:  Tanaquil Le Clercq”,  it is almost as though you are beholding mythological deities who have alighted briefly on the earth. Here today, gone tomorrow, they are like rare birds, seldom glimpsed, who remind us of the evanescence of all things, most of all physical beauty and the casual grace of youth. Therein lies a primal attraction of ballet: its evocation of the ecstatic moment is as fleeting as it is haunting.”

Trailer for Afternoon of a Faun:  Tanaquil Le Clercq

Tanaquil Le Clercq and Diana Adams dancing in Concerto Barocco for NYCB

100 Years of Le Sacre du printemps

New York Times Review
courtesy of Wikipedia

May 29, 1913 marked the premiere performance of Le Sacre du printemps, (the Rite of Spring), at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. This first performance is legendary for the sensation it caused and near riot. Originally composed as a “ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets Russes company; the original choreography was by Vaslav Nijinsky, with stage designs and costumes by Nicholas Roerich”. Now, 100 years later, the work continues to endure with many interpretations both orchestrally and in dance by many companies across the globe. And, “although designed as a work for the stage, with specific passages accompanying characters and action, the music achieved equal if not greater recognition as a concert piece, and is widely considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century” (quotes courtesy of Wikipedia).

From the original to contemporary, the three videos below start with a wonderful BBC documentary about the premiere performance. Interestingly, it brings out that the near riot in the audience was not spontaneous but that Diaghilev actually prepared the Parisians for 5 weeks before the premiere to hate this work and the resulting riot was exactly what Diaghilev had wanted.

Ballets Russe – Le Sacre du printemps, BBC documentary (pt 3 of 3)


Maurice Béjart, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Le Sacre du printemps, 1970


Adonis Foniadakis, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, Le Sacre du printemps, 2013