Dancing Past the Light: The Life of Tanaquil Le Clercq

Univ. Pr. of Florida. Sept. 2021. 398p. ISBN 9780813069029. $35. DANCE
It’s difficult to capture the essence of a dancer on film let alone in words, but that is exactly what Protopopescu (What Remains) does in this rich, compelling biography of Tanaquil “Tanny” Le Clercq (1929–2000), “a unique fusion of power and lightness, pathos and wit.” Protopopescu describes her subject’s career—at 19, Le Clercq became a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, where both George Balanchine (she was his fourth and last wife) and Jerome Robbins created roles for her. Le Clercq was also an artist with a social conscience; she and Arthur Mitchell danced the New York City Ballet’s first interracial pas de deux in 1955, and she later taught at Mitchell’s company, the Dance Theatre of Harlem. During the company’s 1956 European tour, Le Clercq, then 27, contracted polio and never danced again. In the ensuing years, however, she found new roles as a dance teacher and coach, writer, and photographer. Protopopescu’s research is drawn not only from written and visual archives but from interviews with Le Clercq’s students, friends, and dance partners, including the late Jacques D’Amboise.
VERDICT This thoughtful and elegant narrative is full of wonderful stories about the world of ballet. A fitting tribute to the life and legacy of a beloved dancer that will enthrall balletomanes everywhere.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing