Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq

Tribute Nancy Buirski

Tanaquil Le Clercq was still a teenager when George Balanchine made her a principal dancer of the New York City Ballet. She was long and tall when other dancers were short, and her fluid movements possessed an intoxicating quality that inspired audiences and choreographers alike. Jerome Robbins created the duet Afternoon of a Faun for her to dance with Jacques d’Amboise. Though Robbins was in love with her, it was Balanchine she eventually married. Then, in 1956 at the height of her fame, she was stricken with polio and confined to an iron lung. She survived but was paralyzed and never walked or danced again. Through interviews with fellow dancers, glorious archival footage of performances, and intimate Super 8 films shot by friends, Le Clercq’s exceptional allure emanates from the screen. The documentary also beautifully incorporates the letters she exchanged with Robbins, which reveal her innermost longings and a bond complicated by romantic feelings. Afternoon of a Faun is a window on this unparalleled talent and her mesmerizing story of love, loss, and surprising grace.  ST

Filmmaker Q&A following screening


Nancy Buirski


Nancy Buirski, Ric Burns, Krysanne Katsoolis


Claire L. Chandler


Damian Rodriquez


Rick Rodgers

Release Year


Festival Year



United States

Run Time

91 minutes