Skip to main content

Film Reviews Afternoon of a Faun: Documentary of a real-life survival story

Tanaquil Le Clercq was the foremost dancer of her day until it suddenly all stopped. At age 27, Tanny was struck down by polio and paralyzed. She never danced again.

Kino Lorber

2 out of 4 stars

Written by
Nancy Buirski
Directed by
Nancy Buirski
Starring
Tanaquil Le Clercq
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2014

Described by one partner as "an elongated, stretched out path to heaven," the late ballet dancer Tanaquil – known as 'Tanny' – Le Clercq (1929-2000) certainly cut a celestial figure: she was tall, she had legs that lasted forever, and a face that seemed cast in fine bone china. And she moved like magic, a woman born to this most physical but delicate of arts.

Watching De Clercq dance is not only what Nancy Buirski's uneven documentary does to best effect, it helps you understand the movie's otherwise restrictive emphasis on the men who became obsessed by her, primarily her discoverer and husband George Balanchine and the dancer/choreographer Jerome Robbins.

Starting as an account of an unlikely game-changer and shifting into an inspirational real-life survival story – Le Clercq lost her precious mobility to polio in 1956 – Afternoon of a Faun is primarily the story of a woman loved, desired, objectified and watched by men. That she was ultimately so stubbornly independent would seem to be Buirski's motivating interest, but her movie is as transfixed by the heavenly object as the men are.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter