Tanaquil Le Clercq (published 1982)

Dublin Core


Tanaquil Le Clercq (published 1982)


LeClercq primarily discusses creating the role of Choleric in The Four Temperaments, but delves into experiences with other ballets. She describes working with Balanchine and Jerome Robbins as well as other dancers at the Ballet Society/New York City Ballet.

Biographical note:

LeClercq was born in 1929 and began training with Mikhail Mordkin at age 7. She was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet and created roles for George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Merce Cunningham. In 1956 she contracted polio and was paralyzed from the waist down, but she went on to teach at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, write books, and frequently attend performances.


Pratt SILS LIS-665, Barbara Newman

Date Created

February 27, 1979



Access Rights

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Is Part Of

Newman, B. (1982). Striking a balance: Dancers talk about dancing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Newman, B. (1992). Striking a balance: Dancers talk about dancing. New York: Limelight Editions




Interviews recorded on cassette by Barbara Newman

Rights Holder

Barbara Newman, Tanaquil Le Clercq

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Audio Cassette Tape

Digital Format


Digital Master

leclercq1979feb27_sidea.wav.mp3, leclercq1979feb27_sideb.wav.mp3, leclerq1979feb27_sidea.wav.mp3



Bit Rate/Frequency



Barbara Newman


Tanaquil Le Clercq, 1929-2008


New York, NY

Additional content

"When I was quite small, Tanaquil LeClercq engraved her pared-down, pristine, nearly casual elegance so deeply on my mind that I can still see it now. And if you look at the New York City Ballet, so can you. Since her dancing gave as enduring a definition to the company's style as it did to my own personal standards, its shape persists today, like a signature scrawled obliquely across time. She was the first dancer I ever saw who captured movement in her body, enlarged it, focused it, and sent it flashing through the dark, without comment but with an extra edge that was hers alone. At full speed she seemed transparent, pure energy encased in glass; slowing to adagio, she became opalescent. When I first spoke to her about this interview, we were sitting at the back of the City Center, awaiting the first performance of Balanchine's The Four Temperaments by the Dance Theatre of Harlem" Barbara Newman (1982).




“Tanaquil Le Clercq (published 1982),” Dance Dialogues: Interviews by Barbara Newman, 1979-Present, accessed May 17, 2022, http://dancedialogues.prattsils.org/items/show/24.

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