Tanaquil LeClercq


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(b Paris, 2 Oct. 1929; d New York, 31 Dec. 2000)

US dancer and teacher. She studied with Mordkin and at the School of American Ballet, making her debut at Jacob's Pillow Festival in 1945. She joined Ballet Society (later New York City Ballet) as a soloist in 1946 becoming principal dancer in 1948. With her sophisticated, stylish technique and sharp intelligence she excelled in a wide repertory, creating roles in over 25 of Balanchine's ballets including Four Temperaments (1946), Divertimento (1947), Bourrée fantasque (1949), La Valse (1951), Western Symphony, and Ivesiana (both 1954), as well as roles in Ashton's Illuminations (1950) and Robbins's Age of Anxiety (1950), Afternoon of a Faun (1953), and The Concert (1956). Her career was cut short when she contracted polio on tour in Copenhagen in 1956, though she subsequently taught at Dance Theatre of Harlem (1974–82) and published two books, Mourka, the Autobiography of a Cat (New York, 1964) and Ballet Cookbook (New York, 1967). She was married to Balanchine (1952–69).

Subjects: Dance.

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